Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty, is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures among women. As the name indicates, this procedure aims to increase the breast size by placing implants under the breast tissues.

Women undergo breast augmentation for various purposes, both cosmetic and reconstructive. You may opt for the procedure if you desire larger or more proportional breasts,  or to restore your breast size after pregnancy, weight loss, breastfeeding, or other factors.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of breast augmentation surgery, including breast implant materials, placement options, incision styles, and the post-treatment recovery process.

Why is breast augmentation requested?

Everyone has a unique set of reasons to consider breast augmentation. However, the following are the most common reasons women undergo breast augmentations:

  • The desire for larger breasts that fill out bras and dresses better
  • Adjust the size of one or both breasts to ensure optimal proportionality
  • Restore the breast’s size after pregnancy, nursing, or significant weight loss
  • Improve overall self-confidence and esteem

Factors to consider before proceeding with breast augmentation

Breast augmentation is a major surgical procedure, and you should only proceed after considering all the potential outcomes and possibilities. Your specialist plastic surgeon should discuss all the risks and breast implant options during your consultation.

However, the following are some less-discussed aspects of breast augmentation to consider:

  • Breast augmentation only increases breast size — it doesn’t correct very saggy breasts. For this you may need a breast lift, as well as implants to increase your breast size.
  • Breast implants do not last forever, and all will need to be replaced one day. With careful planning and surgery, implants can last 20 years or longer, however you may also need to change the implants earlier if your breasts change shape due to pregnancy, weight gain, and other factors.
  • If you get breast implants, you’ll need longterm follow up with your surgeon, at least every 5 years. For breast implant checks and cancer screening, ultrasounds and specialised mammograms are used to monitor the signs of leaks or implant ruptures and check your breasts for problems..
  • Breast augmentation and later revision surgeries are not covered by Medicare or health insurance, unless you are having your implants removed for medical reasons. You will need to plan for eventual removal or replacement of your implants and the costs that this will involve.

What are my breast implant options?

When proceeding with breast augmentation, you must make several essential decisions about your breast implants. These involve selecting the right material, shape, placement style, and implant size. Your plastic surgeon should highlight the pros and cons of all the available options to help you make an informed decision.

Breast Implant Materials

  • Silicone Gel Implants: These are the most popular materials for breast implants because they have the texture and feel of natural breasts.
  • Saline Implants: These are water filled implants but they are less commonly used because they don’t resemble the natural feel of breasts and are more likely to rupture and empty.

Breast Implant Shape

  • Teardrop Implants: These are anatomically-shaped implants — fuller at the bottom and tapered at the top. These may look more natural in certain patients, but tend to a bit firmer than round implants.
  • Round Implants: These are uniformly shaped implants with round corners. Breast augmentation with round implants generally produces results with more fullness in the upper breast.

Breast Implant Placement

  • Submuscular Placement: In this placement style, the implant is placed underneath the chest muscles. This is especially suitable for women with insufficiently thick natural tissues.
  • Subglandular Placement: In this placement style, the implant is placed above the chest muscles but underneath the breast tissues.

Breast Implant Size/ Projection

The breast implant’s size and projection are also important factors to consider. Breast implant sizes are measured according to weight or volume, but all women can’t opt for all sizes. Your plastic surgeon will measure your chest to determine the ideal range of breast implant sizes for you to avoid an unnatural appearance.

What are the possible incision styles?

Depending on the type, size, and placement of the breast implant, the surgeon will need to use one of the following incision styles:

  • Inframammary: The incision is made under your breast. This is the most common place for an incision in breast enlargement surgery, and usually considered the best in most patients.
  • Transaxillary: The incision is made under your arms.
  • Periareolar: The incision is made around your nipples.

Transaxillary and periareolar are the least visible incisions because one is hidden under the arms, and the other is placed along the dark contours of the areola. However, an inframammary incision is often necessary for certain implant styles, such as silicone gel implants. Your specialist plastic surgeon will determine the ideal incision style for your needs.

What’s the recovery process like after breast augmentation?

You should expect soreness, swelling, and bruising for a few weeks after the breast augmentation surgery. The scar will initially be visible, but it will gradually fade over time and merge with the surrounding skin.

You’ll be asked to wear compression garments or support bras for a few weeks or months, depending on the specifics of your surgery and chosen implant. The plastic surgeon will also prescribe pain medications and antibiotics to minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of infections.

You should avoid activities that strain or burden your breasts for a few weeks. If you have a desk job that doesn’t require much movement, you can resume work in a week, but you should avoid strenuous physical activities for several weeks.

You must contact your plastic surgeon if your breast feels warm and red or you develop a fever. These might be signs of an infection. However, reputable plastic surgeons take all necessary precautions to prevent infections.

Breast augmentation is a popular and rewarding surgery, but you must consider all your options before proceeding, and you should select the right specialist plastic surgeon with skill and experience in breast augmentation.