Breast augmentation, also known as breast enlargement, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman’s breast. A woman may choose this cosmetic surgery to enhance her body contour, to correct a reduction in breast volume after pregnancy, to balance a difference in breast size or as a reconstructive technique following breast surgery.
Breast augmentation, technically known as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman’s breast for a number of reasons:
- To enhance the body contour of a woman who, for personal reasons, feels her breast size is too small.
- To correct a reduction in breast volume after pregnancy.
- To balance a difference in breast size.
- As a reconstructive technique following breast surgery.
By inserting an implant behind each breast, surgeons are able to increase a woman’s bustline by one or more bra cup sizes.
The best candidates for breast augmentation
Breast enlargement can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have cosmetic surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
The best candidates for breast enhancements are women who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.
Types of implants
A breast implant is a silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or a salt-water solution known as saline.
The method of inserting and positioning your implant will depend on your anatomy and your surgeon’s recommendation. The incision can be made either in the crease where the breast meets the chest, around the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple), or in the armpit. Every effort will be made to assure that the incision is placed so resulting scars will be as inconspicuous as possible.
Working through the incision, the surgeon will lift your breast tissue and skin to create a pocket, either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath your chest wall muscle (the pectoral muscle). The implants are then centered beneath your nipples.
Some surgeons believe that putting the implants behind your chest muscle may reduce the potential for capsular contracture. Drainage tubes may be used for several days following the surgery. This placement may also interfere less with breast examination by mammogram than if the implant is placed directly behind the breast tissue. Placement behind the muscle however, may be more painful for a few days after surgery than placement directly under the breast tissue.
You’ll want to discuss the pros and cons of these alternatives with your doctor before cosmetic surgery to make sure you fully understand the implications of the procedure he or she recommends for you.
The surgery usually takes one to two hours to complete. Stitches are used to close the incisions, which may also be taped for greater support. A gauze bandage may be applied over your breasts to help with healing.
There are risks and complications with this procedure.
They include but are not limited to the following.
- Infection can occur, requiring antibiotics and further treatment.
- Bleeding could occur and may require a return to the operating room. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood-thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Asprin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
- Small areas of the lung can collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
- Increased risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
- Heart attack or stroke could occur due to the strain on the heart.
- Blood clot in the leg (DVT) causing pain and swelling. In rare cases, part of the clot may break off and go to the lungs.
- Death as a result of this procedure is possible.