Many people think of plastic surgery as purely cosmetic, but there’s a lot more to this surgical specialty. Plastic surgeons often do reconstructive procedures that can rebuild body parts after an injury or illness.
What is breast augmentation surgery?
Breast augmentation surgery, also known as breast enhancement or enlargement, involves insertion of implants either underneath the chest muscle or just under the breast tissue. Implants can be filled with saline (salt water) or with a silicone gel. Breast enhancement is considered a cosmetic, or elective surgery, meaning it is not medically necessary. For many women, however, it can greatly improve confidence and self-esteem.
Women who choose breast enhancement may simply want to have improved size and shape of their breasts or one breast may be larger than the other and breast enhancement can even out their appearance. For others, the breasts may have lost volume and shape because of childbirth and breastfeeding. Breast enhancement surgery does not cure sagging breasts, however, so some women will opt for a breast lift at the same time.
Breast augmentation surgery is not for everyone. Your doctor will talk with you about your health history, your reasons for wanting breast enhancement, and your expectations of the surgery. Your doctor may also order testing, such as a mammogram, to check for any abnormalities in the breasts before surgery is planned.
What to expect from breast augmentation surgery
During the surgery, you will receive general anesthesia, which means you will receive medication that puts you to sleep and you will feel no pain. The surgeon may access the breast area in several different ways, such as through:
- A cut in the natural skin fold, underneath your breast
- A cut under your arm
- A cut around your areola (the dark part around your nipple)
- A cut near your belly button
You and your doctor will have previously discussed the different surgical approaches and options available to you.
The surgery itself takes approximately one to two hours. You will need at least one to two weeks to recover from breast surgery. During this time, you may need assistance around the house and your doctor will recommend that you do not participate in certain activities. Many people return to work within a few weeks although you should expect ongoing healing and some swelling for up to six months after surgery.
Long-term results of breast enlargement
Breast enhancement does not require repeat “enhancements,” but you may need to go back to your doctor from time to time for some “touching up.” There are also certain risks associated with breast augmentation, which your doctor will discuss with you in detail before determining if surgery is right for you.
Women who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed in the future should carefully consider the possible impact breast enhancement surgery can have on their ability to nurse a baby.
All women who undergo breast enhancement should continue getting mammograms, which are safe for women with implants.