Breast augmentation — also known as augmentation mammoplasty — is surgery to increase breast size. It involves placing breast implants under breast tissue or chest muscles.
For some women, breast augmentation is a way to feel more confident. For others, it’s part of rebuilding the breast for various conditions.
If you’re considering breast augmentation, talk to a plastic surgeon. Make sure you understand what surgery involves, including possible risks, complications and follow-up care.
What breast augmentation surgery can do?
- Increase fullness and projection of your breasts
- Improve balance of breast and hip contours
- Enhance your self-image and self-confidence
What breast augmentation surgery can’t do?
- Breast augmentation does not correct severely drooping breasts. A breast lift may be required along with a breast augmentation for sagging breasts to look fuller and lifted.
- Breast lifting can often be done at the same time as your augmentation or may require a separate operation. Your plastic surgeon will assist you in making this decision.
Who is a good candidate for breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation is a deeply personal procedure, and it’s important that you’re doing it for yourself and not for someone else, even if that person has offered to pay for it. Patient satisfaction is high, specifically when they want the procedure themselves.
- You may be a candidate for breast augmentation if:
- You are physically healthy and you aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have realistic expectations
- Your breasts are fully developed
- You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts are too small
- You are dissatisfied with your breasts losing shape and volume after pregnancy, weight loss or with aging
- You are unhappy with the upper part of your breast appearing “empty”
- Your breasts are asymmetrical
- One or both breasts failed to develop normally or have an elongated shape
If you’re considering surgery, spend some time reviewing breast augmentation photos and learning about what to expect during recovery. Preparation ahead of time helps patients have reasonable expectations and a smoother recovery.
What should I expect during a consultation for breast augmentation?
- During your breast augmentation consultation be prepared to discuss:
- Why you want breast augmentation surgery, your expectations and the desired outcome
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and previous medical treatments
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- Family history of breast cancer and results of any mammograms or previous biopsies
- Your plastic surgeon will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Examine and measure your breasts, including detailed measurements of their size and shape, skin quality and placement of your nipples and areolas
- Take photographs
- Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
Discuss likely outcomes of breast augmentation and any risks or potential complications
The consultation is the time to ask your plastic surgeon questions. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your breast augmentation surgeon that you can take with you to your consultation.
It’s important to understand all aspects of your breast augmentation surgery. It’s natural to be nervous about it, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
What are the risks of breast augmentation?
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal and you will have to weigh the potential benefits in achieving your goals with the risks and potential complications of breast augmentation. Only you can make that decision for yourself.
- Breast Implants: What Patients Need to Know
- You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
- Possible breast augmentation surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Formation of tight scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture)
- Implant leakage or rupture
- Persistent pain
- Poor scarring
- Possibility of revision surgery
- Wrinkling of the skin over the implant
- Wrong or faulty position of the implant
- These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
- Breast implant safety
FDA-approved breast implants undergo extensive testing to demonstrate reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. The vast majority of people with breast implants experience no serious complications. However, there are risks associated with breast implants, including breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) and systemic symptoms commonly referred to as breast implant illness (BII) that some patients attribute to their implants, which can include fatigue, “brain fog,” muscle or joint pain and rash. In the event any complication develops, patients should consult a board-certified plastic surgeon to address it in a timely manner. Likewise, if a patient desires to have breast implants removed – for any reason – she should consult her plastic surgeon.
Other important considerations:
Breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime and future surgery may be required to replace one or both implants
Pregnancy, weight loss and menopause may influence the appearance of augmented breasts over the course of your lifetime
Breast augmentation requires regular examinations of your breasts’ health and to evaluate the condition of your breast implants.
What results should I expect after breast augmentation surgery?
While a breast augmentation yields larger breasts right away, the final results may take a few weeks as the swelling subsides and the skin stretches. Some patients may need to wear a bandeau to help shape their breasts, especially if they have underlying asymmetry or very small breasts to start with. Incision lines may take several months, even a couple of years, to fade.
To achieve optimal breast augmentation results, follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions and return for follow-up visits.
Will breast augmentation increase my risk of breast cancer?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by women considering this surgery. Many studies have shown that women who get implants are not at an increased risk for getting breast cancer. In addition, implants do not delay the detection of breast cancer. Numerous studies, as well as evidence from the National Cancer Institute, show that having implants does not hinder the patient or their physician in finding breast tumors. Finally, breast implant patients who do get breast cancer have the same chance of obtaining remission, or being free of cancer for 5 years, as women without implants.
How long until I can exercise?
It is recommended that patients begin walking immediately after surgery. However, women should not perform any intense physical exercise for six weeks following the operation. Physical exercise including weight lifting, biking, jogging, and other forms of intense activities may cause implants to shift position or cause wound healing problems that may alter the appearance of the breasts after surgery.
When can I return to work?
This depends on your job and its physical demands. Some general guidelines are: Upper arm movements, like reaching, should be avoided for the first 1-2 weeks. Lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds should be avoided for 6 weeks after the operation. This lifting restriction may prevent some women from returning to work.