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Ira H. Rex III, MD
American Board of Plastic Surgery

Breast Augmentation

Breast Enlargement / Breast Augmentation procedures are among the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures. Breast augmentation is designed to improve the size and contour of smaller breasts. Sagging breasts may also be helped using a breast lift procedure combined with breast augmentation.

Length: 1 to 2 hours.
Anesthesia: Local with sedation, or general.
In/Outpatient: Usually outpatient.
Side Effects: Temporary soreness, swelling, change in nipple sensation, bruising. Breast sensitive to stimulation for a few weeks.
Risks: Lack of implant permanence -- surgical removal or replacement of the implants may be required to treat problems, including: deflation; the formation of scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture), which may cause the breast to feel tight or hard; bleeding or infection. Increase or decrease in sensitivity of nipples or breast skin, occasionally permanent. Mammography requires a special technique. (Note: Some women have reported symptoms similar to those of immune disorders. Ask your doctor about these and other FDA concerns.)
Recovery: Back to work: a few days. Physical contact with breasts: 3 to 4 weeks. Fading of scars: several months to a year or more.
Duration of Results: Variable. Implants may require removal or replacement.

FAQs about Memory Gel Implants

Breast augmentation, also known as mammoplasty, is a surgical enhancement procedure to accentuate the size and shape of a woman's breasts. While breast augmentation will make the breasts larger, the surgery will not move the breasts closer together or lift sagging breasts.  Breast augmentation is tremendous help to patients who desire a fuller profile, who have lost breast volume due to pregnancy or nursing, or who have undergone breast reconstruction and want to gain a more natural look again.

Reasons for Considering Breast Augmentation:

  • Enhance body shape if breasts are too small.
  • Increase breast volume after pregnancy and nursing.
  • Equalize a difference in breast size (cup size) to gain breast symmetry.
  • Reconstruct breasts following a mastectomy or injury.

General Procedure

Breast augmentation involves making a small incision to insert a breast implant into the breast area in order to enlarge the breast.  The surgery is commonly performed on an outpatient basis at a hospital or state-of-the-art surgical unit while the patient is under a general anesthesia and asleep.  There are several possible locations for the small incision that will be used for inserting the breast implant.  The most frequent technique utilizes an incision made in the lower portion of the breast.  Another technique, though less frequently used, involves making an incision in the armpit.  A third technique makes an incision around the areola (the darker skin surrounding the nipple).  A newer technique uses an incision in the belly button, thus reducing the chance of scarring in the breast area.  The best technique will be decided together between the patient and the surgeon during the consultation.

During surgery, the breast tissue is raised to create an open pocket under the breast tissue or beneath the chest wall muscle.  Inserting an implant behind each breast can increase a woman's breast size by one or more bra cup sizes.  Implants typically contain a saline solution (similar to saltwater) although in special cases the implants can contain a silicone gel.  In some circumstances, particularly those in which there is breast asymmetry (uneven breast size), an inflatable implant may be used to allow the surgeon to adjust the level of inflation to attain breast symmetry and balance.  Surgery typically lasts from 1 to 3 hours.

Recovery Process

Generally, post-operative instructions call for plenty of rest and limited movement in order to speed up the healing process and recovery time.  Bandages are applied right after surgery to aid the healing process and to minimize movement of the breasts.  Once the bandages are removed, a specialized surgical bra will need to be worn for several weeks.  Patients sometimes report minor pain associated with the surgery.  This pain can be treated effectively with oral medication. While complications are rare, patients can minimize potential problems by carefully following the directions given by the physician after surgery.

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