Breast Augmentation

August 1, 2011

Breast AugmentationOver the last few decades, there has been a great deal of emphasis placed on the shape and size of women’s breasts. Many women sometimes wish that their breasts were larger and for that reason seek breast enlargement or augmentation mammoplasty.

Women have diverse reasons for wanting to augment their breasts. Breast augmentation involves using implants to enlarge and shape the breasts, and permits a woman to wear clothes that, at one time, were not an option, such as swimsuits and dresses that fit in the hips and not the breast. Sometimes, women wish to go back to the size they were prior to pregnancy or after weight loss. Breast augmentation may also improve self-esteem and, indirectly, how a woman relates to others.

Approximately a decade ago, there was a great deal of negative publicity directed toward breast implants, particularly silicone implants. As a result, silicone implants were taken off the market. Since that time, studies have not found any association between silicone breast implants or breast cancer or autoimmune disorders. Still, the silicone implants are now used only in trial studies and have been replaced with saline (salt) implants. Salt is a natural constituent of our bodies and, therefore, allergic reactions are virtually nonexistent. Other substances such as peanut and soybean oil have been utilized, but have since been taken off the market.

One of the first important steps for seeking breast augmentation is an in-depth consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. There are always risks associated with any procedure and these should be provided in the consultation. Many women also obtain a wealth of information from the Internet. There are many websites dedicated to this subject as well as information through the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Once a woman has decided to have the procedure performed, there are various options for how and where it is performed. This procedure is performed in an accredited outpatient facility, surgery center, or hospital and is almost always done on an outpatient basis. It is usually performed under general anesthesia, but conscious sedation can also be used. An incision can be made in the following places: around the edge of the areola (pigmented area around the nipple), just above the crease underneath the breast, within the armpit, or just at the edge of the navel. Once the incision is made, a space or pocket is developed and the implant is placed. The implant can be placed either underneath the breast tissue itself or underneath the muscle of the chest wall.

The technique that is used for the surgery depends not only on the surgeon’s preference but also on the result that the patient desires. The surgeon may also suggest a procedure to enhance the desired result; for instance, if the breasts are saggy, a breast lift may be needed.

After surgery, there is a recovery period of 2-3 days and sometimes a week, depending upon the patient’s threshold. Pain medication is given to help with the discomfort. Within a week following the surgery, the stitches are usually removed if they are not dissolvable. Generally, the woman will be able to shower and to return to nonstrenuous work. A period of time will elapse before the swelling resolves; during this time, a support bra must be used. Strenuous activity is usually permitted after a month.

There are many common questions women have regarding breast augmentation. How does a woman decide how large she wants to be? Many women look at pictures in a magazine. Although this can be of some assistance, the shape and size of the picture may not have any correlation to hers. There are some surgeons who have women put trial sizes in their bra. Others suggest buying an inexpensive bra of the desired size and placing water in a sandwich bag. It is a difficult decision to make, but the woman should really make a conscientious effort to be a part of that. Many women think when they have their breasts enlarged, they will go, for example, from a 32A to a 36C. This is a misconception because only the volume will become larger and not the circumference of the chest. For instance, a woman who wears a 32 bra, will continue to wear a 32 bra.

Another common question relates to the implant’s durability over time. No one really can predict that figure. This is a manufactured device and can have defects. The manufacturing companies offer a lifetime warranty and will replace the implant at no charge. Sometimes, there is also a stipend offered to help pay for surgery that is necessary within the first 2 years. Some women wonder what may happen to them if there is a defect. If there is a defect in the implant, the only thing it can do is deflate. There is an obvious difference between the two sides and the implant will have to be replaced. However, the procedure to replace implants is relatively simple and does not require a lot of “downtime.”

Some women wonder what will happen if they are unhappy about the size. If this occurs, the size can be changed with further surgery. If there is any uncertainty, there are implants which have a port through which more volume may be added. However, a small secondary operation is necessary to remove the port.

There are thousands of breast augmentations performed every year with successful and pleasing results on the patient’s part. This is an important decision. Accordingly, it is critical that the surgeon chosen be qualified to perform the procedure and that he or she have good rapport with the patient.

SEE ALSO: Body image, Breast cancer, Breast reconstruction

Category: B