About Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation uses breast implants to increase bust size and restore volume lost due to weight loss, aging or pregnancy. The procedure, which takes up to 3 hours, can also be used to reconstruct the breasts of cancer patients who’ve had them removed during mastectomy or when breasts are narrow and long (tubular).
Achieving better symmetry, a rounder breast shape, fullness, projection, and greater body proportion are the goals you can accomplish with augmentation. One thing the surgery can’t do is provide a lift.
A consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon helps you understand whether augmentation alone is enough to meet your needs.
How breast augmentation works
While at a hospital or outpatient surgical clinic, general anesthesia is given to make you unconscious. The surgeon makes an incision along your breast crease (inframammary fold), nipple (areola), armpit (axillary), or belly button (transumbilical)—the latter two are reserved only for saline implants.
Before the surgery, you choose implant fill type (saline or silicone), texture (smooth or textured), shape (round or teardrop), and profile (low to extra-high). Your selection is placed in a crafted pocket, either partially behind the pectoralis muscle (“unders”) or directly behind the breast tissue (“overs”).
The breast tissue is layered with sutures, and additional stitching closes the skin. Adhesives or surgical tape are placed over the incisions to provide a barrier against infection and to prevent the cuts from opening. Bandages or a post-surgical bra are placed for support and promote healing by reducing swelling.
Breast augmentation recovery
You go home the same day as the procedure, usually an hour or so after it is over. You are instructed to rest but take short, daily walks around your home periodically to promote blood circulation and prevent blood clots.
The height of your pain occurs over the first week and minimizes with prescription pain medication. Expect your chest to feel tight and for your breasts swell. Your breasts may initially look oblong or boxy, or they may sit very high. Once the swelling goes down, fluid abates and tension on the breast skin/muscles relaxes, your implants lower, round out and fluff.
Except for extremely physical occupations, most women return to work around the 2- to 3-week mark and increase their physical activity. By 2 months, most limits are off, and by 3 months you may be fully recovered.
Breast augmentation results
Results depend on surgical skill and your ability to comply with post-op instructions.
By the time 4 to 5 weeks approaches, swelling should subside enough to give you an idea of what your final outcomes may look like. Women with implants over the muscle may have a rounder and softer shape at this time, while women with implants under may notice that the implants have dropped, the nipple is coming into position, but the sides of their breasts are still not rounded and feel firm.
Between week 6 and month 3, the overall volume of your breasts will be what they are going to be. Softness and breast shape, however, continue up until 1 year.
Pregnancy, significant weight loss, aging, gravity, and other factors may disrupt the look of your breast augmentation over time. Though the procedure can add volume and size, it cannot create lift. In such cases, a breast lift with augmentation is recommended.