Breast Augmentation: What You Should Know

For nearly 10 years now, breast augmentation has been one of the most common cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. So popular in fact, that in 2014, breast augmentation was the number one cosmetic surgery performed. More than a quarter million women opted for breast augmentation last year.

If you’ve thought about enhancing your breast size, this article covers everything you need to know.

What Is Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure to enhance a woman’s breast size by placing breast implants or fat within the breast.

Who Elects Breast Augmentation?

Thousands of women ages 18 to over age 55 opt for the procedure annually, most commonly those in the 30-39 age range.

For the right candidate, breast augmentation can improve confidence and self-image. Good candidates are people who:

  • Are physically healthy
  • Do the procedure for themselves, not for someone else
  • Have fully developed small or moderate sized breasts
  • Want to correct breasts that are not the same size
  • Have breasts that have lost shape or size after weight loss or pregnancy
  • Have “droopy breasts” that appear empty or flat on the top
  • Did not fully develop due to congenital abnormalities
  • Have realistic expectations

Severely droopy breasts may require a breast lift procedure called a mastopexy. This procedure may or may not be performed along with breast augmentation.

Are There Different Types of Breast Implants?

During your initial consultation, your surgeon will examine your breasts and discuss your options. Typically these discussions include:

  • Size: Implants come in a variety of sizes. Your doctor will use various measurements such as the width of your breasts to determine the right size implant for you.
  • Shape:
    • Round: Same shape all around
    • Shaped/Anatomic: There is more projection at the bottom and tapering at the top.
  • Shell:
    • Smooth
    • Textured
  • Filler: Your doctor can advise which type of implant is best for your situation. Options include:
    • Saline implants filled with sterile saline water. Saline implants are FDA approved for breast augmentation in women ages 18 and up.
    • Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel and feel more like a natural breast. Silicone implants are FDA approved for breast augmentation in women ages 22 and up.
    • Form stable/”Gummy Bear” implants contain thicker silicone than traditional silicone gel implants. They are firmer to the touch, but are less likely to break.

In 2014, 77 percent of all breast augmentations used silicone implants and 23 percent used saline implants.

What Are the Incision Options for Breast Augmentation?

During your consultation, your doctor can describe the differences between these options:

  • An inframammary incision is made underneath the breast in or near the breast fold.
  • A periareolar incision is made around the areola (the colored part of skin which surrounds the nipple).
  • An axillary incision is made in the axillary floor (armpit).
  • A transumbilical breast augmentation (TUBA) incision is made through an incision above your belly button.

Where Are Implants Placed?

Implants are most commonly placed:

  • Subglandular: below the breast tissue but above the pectoralis major muscle (muscle located underneath the breasts)
  • Sub-Pectoral: below the breast tissue and the pectoralis major muscle. This is the most common option because it decreases the risk of capsular contracure (scarring around the implant) and rippling.
  • Dual-Plane: Partly underneath the pectoralis major muscle and the breast glandular tissue

Are There Risks to Breast Augmentation?

Any surgery involves some risk. Risks that are specific to breast augmentation include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fluid collections (seroma or hematoma)
  • Noticeable scarring
  • Changes in nipple or breast sensations
  • Persistent pain
  • Undesirable positioning of the implant
  • Visibility of the implant (rippling or wrinkling)
  • Capsular contracture (scar formation around the implant) which may become painful or distort the shape of the breast
  • Implant leakage
  • Need for revisional surgery 

Are Breast Implants Dangerous with Breast-Feeding?

Studies have shown that silicone levels in breast milk of women who have had breast augmentation and those who have not are not significantly different.

During your initial consultation, your doctor will be happy to answer all your questions about the procedure and discuss all your options to ensure the best outcome.

Meet the Author

Nyama M. Sillah, MD is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at the Aurora Health Care Cosmetic Center located at the Women’s Pavilion in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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