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Breast Augmentation

Overview

Breast augmentation, also called augmentation mammoplasty, refers to a general surgical procedure for enhancing breast size and shape. The procedure involves placing breast implants under chest muscles or breast tissues.

For some women, breast augmentation is a way to feel confident about themselves. But for others, it is a process to rebuild their breasts which may have been removed for medical reasons.  If you are considering breast augmentation surgery, talk to your surgeon in detail. Before opting for the surgery, you must know what it involves, the risks, the complications, and the necessary follow-up or aftercare.

Before consulting with the surgeon, it is critical to educate yourself on breast augmentation. The information in this article is an overview. However, do not use the information here to replace or avoid professional advice.

About Breast Augmentation

The breast augmentation procedure aims to increase the shape, size, and fullness of the breast. In this procedure, the surgeon places saline, silicone, or any composite breast implant under the breast tissues or chest muscles. The implants last from 8 to 12 years on average.

Breast augmentation procedures can be performed at a hospital. You can probably go home after a few hours of the surgery as it rarely needs hospitalization. To insert the breast implant, the plastic surgeon makes a single incision (cut) in one of three places:

  1. The crease under the breast (inframammary)
  2. Under the arm (axillary)
  3. Around the nipple (periareolar)

After making the cut, the plastic surgeon will separate the breast tissue from your muscles and connective tissue of the chest. This will create a pocket either in front of or behind or the outermost muscle of your chest wall (pectoral muscle). The plastic surgeon will then insert the implant into this pocket and center it behind the nipple.

Saline implants are inserted empty and then once they are in place, it is filled with sterile salt water. Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel.

When the implant is in place, the plastic surgeon will close the cut with sutures (stitches) and bandage the cut with skin adhesive and surgical tape.

Who Qualifies for the Breast Augmentation?

If you are not satisfied with your breasts’ size, contour, or shape, you can consider a breast augmentation procedure. It is also known as augmentation mammoplasty that involves using breast implants to enlarge the size of your breasts.

This procedure is useful for women who are unhappy with the size of their breasts due to weight loss or pregnancy. The breast augmentation procedure can align unevenness or asymmetry in the breasts. You qualify for the breast augmentation procedure if one or more conditions mentioned below are visible:

  • If one of the breasts is slightly smaller or larger than the other.
  • If weight loss has changed the shape and size of your breasts.
  • If your breasts have contracted and lost their firmness and shape after childbirth.
  • If you are not comfortable wearing a swimsuit or a fitting top due to drooping breasts.
  • If you are concerned that your breasts are too small.

How is the Breast Augmentation Performed?

Usually, a breast augmentation procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The incisions are made in the inconspicuous breast areas to limit the visibility of the scars. Various incisions can be made for the procedure.

  • Transaxillary incision (it is made in the armpit)
  • Submammary incision (it is made under the breast fold)
  • Inframammary incision (it is made in the lower breast crease)
  • Periareolar incision (it is made around the lower area of the areola or the dark-colored skin around the nipple)

Through these different types of incisions, the surgeon creates enough space to place the implant. To maximize the procedure’s accuracy, the breast implants are placed subpectorally (under the muscle).

What are the Different Types of Breast Augmentation Procedures?

Some of the breast augmentation procedures are minimally invasive, performed using endoscopes. In such procedures, tiny incisions are made in the armpit area. The procedure takes around 2 to 3 hours.

Other techniques of breast augmentation involve placing implants below the breast gland. Some surgeons may also use fat-grafting procedures for breast augmentation.

Benefits of Breast Augmentation

A breast augmentation procedure can have magical results if you are worried about your breasts’ shape and size. The procedure :

  • Naturally adds volume and curves to your breasts.
  • It can even out the unevenness or symmetry in your breasts.
  • Restore the natural form of the breast after pregnancy or due to aging.
  • Rebuild breast after breast cancer.
  • Boost your self-confidence.

Risks or Complications

Complications are part of every surgery or medical procedure. Breast augmentation might involve certain risks, including:

  • Infection or loss of breast sensation.
  • Leakage or rupture in the implant.
  • Position changes in the implant.
  • Scar tissue.
  • Breast pain.
  • Changes in the nipple.

The side effects include an increase in sensitivity in the breast area, swelling, or bruising. A little swelling in the region is normal for a few weeks. But if the swelling lasts, you must immediately contact your surgeon.

Immediate breast augmentation complications (although rare) includes: 

  • Wound healing issues.
  • Infection.
  • Hematoma (it is a condition in which blood collects in the surgical area).

Breast augmentation complications that might be visible after a long period include: 

  • Seroma, fluid around the implant area.
  • Sagging of the implants placed in the breast, causing the breasts to droop.
  • Deflation or rupture of the implants. The implants are not made to last long, and you might require another procedure after the period expires.
  • Capsule contracture, the formation of scar tissues in the area.
  • Systemic symptoms (sometimes known as breast implant illness) may be linked to breast implants. While the exact link of these symptoms to the breast implants is not clearly understood, some reported signs and symptoms include skin rash, fatigue, trouble concentrating and thinking clearly, memory loss  and joint pain. Removal of breast implants can help and may reverse the symptoms. Research to determine the connection and the cause is ongoing. Speak with your plastic surgeon if you have breast implants and experience any of the above signs and symptoms.

Recovery

As soon as the anesthetic wears off, the patient is given painkillers for pain relief. 

Dissolvable or absorbable sutures will usually disappear within six weeks. A follow-up appointment is necessary if the sutures have not dissolved. The patient has to seek immediate medical help in either or both cases:

  • If there is any sign of infection, fever, redness, or warmth in the chest area.
  • Unusual heartbeats, chest pain, shortness of breath.

You must not engage in any strenuous physical activity for at least seven weeks after surgery. Based on your doctor’s recommendation, you can opt for post-operative exercises to relieve pain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it better to wait for breast augmentation until after pregnancy?

Pregnancy will certainly change the shape and size of your breast, irrespective of implants. It is recommended to postpone breast augmentation until six months after pregnancy.

How long until I can exercise?

Patients can walk immediately after surgery. However, intense physical activities are not recommended. You can gradually start with post-operative exercises.

Is breast augmentation painful?

Breast augmentation is general surgery and pain can be controlled with medication in the first two weeks. If the pain is severe and untreatable, it means some other complication has developed.

Is it possible to breastfeed after augmentation?

Yes. The implants are placed below the breast tissues in a breast augmentation procedure. It means the procedure does not affect milk production and feeding. However, make sure to consult your surgeon .

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