Breast augmentation can increase the size of small breasts, make sagging breasts appear perkier, improve body symmetry, and replace breast tissue lost to mastectomy. It has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for women.
Breast implants have come a long way since the early days of breast augmentation. Now, women have plenty of choices regarding the type of implant they want, and how and where it is inserted.
Implants are available with saline or silicone fillers, in smooth or textured shells. Textured implants reduce the risk of a complication known as capsular contracture, and they are less likely to turn or change position in the body after placement.
Smooth implants are recommended for women who do not have much natural breast tissue to conceal the implant. When placed in front of the pectoral muscle, smooth implants tend to have a more natural look and feel.
Patients can also choose round or teardrop-shaped breast implants. Round implants are most commonly used, and tend to be more affordable. Teardrop-shaped implants can have a shorter life, cause visible rippling in the skin, and may need to be revised if they change position in the body.
Another factor to consider is the profile level of the implants. High profile implants project outward, making them a good choice for petite women. Moderate and low profile implants project more to the sides, producing wider breasts and more cleavage. This is more suited to women with a wider chest area to accommodate the implants.
Implant insertion can be accomplished through incisions beneath the breast, around the areola, in the armpits, or in the patient’s belly button. Your surgeon will recommend the best technique for your implant type and size.
Finally, patients must choose whether they want their implants to be placed in front of the chest muscle, behind it, or partially behind.
Placement in front of the muscle reduces the length of the surgery and the pain of recovery, since the muscle tissue is not cut. However, implants in this position do tend to shift or sink down over time. This placement also interferes with the ability to get an accurate mammogram.
Implants can also be placed partially behind the chest muscle. This is a more difficult technique, and recovery is typically more painful than subglandular placement. The advantages to this placement are less visible rippling, less interference with mammography, and a lower risk of breast tissue hardening.
Submuscular implants are placed completely behind the chest muscle. This holds them firmly in place, but involves more pain and a more invasive procedure. This placement works best for women who have abundant natural breast tissue.
During breast augmentation surgery, the doctor will insert the breast implants you chose during your initial consultation. Teardrop-shaped implants come pre-formed, but smooth implants can be inserted into the body and then filled with saline or silicone once they are in place.
Silicone implants have been reapproved by the FDA following many years of tests and studies concerning their safety. Silicone implants are considered to look and feel more natural than saline, but they can cause an elevated risk of capsular contracture – a complication which occurs when scar tissue hardens around the implant.
Saline implants have a slightly more unnatural look and feeling, but they cause fewer complications overall. Saline implants are also easier to adjust or replace at a later time.
The length of the breast augmentation surgery will depend on the placement you chose, the route of insertion, and whether or not you are undergoing a breast lift at the same time.
Patients will start the recovery period with heavy bandages around the chest. These will be replaced by a surgical support bra after 4 – 5 days. It is helpful to have someone to assist you after surgery, as movement will be painful for several days. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to minimize discomfort.
It is normal for the breasts to be swollen for a few months following surgery. This swelling will gradually go away, and the final results will be visible within 4 – 6 months.
Some possible risks of breast augmentation include infection, capsular contracture, numbness or burning in the breasts, scarring and implant rupture or displacement. For various reasons, most women need to undergo revision surgery within 10 years.
Like any cosmetic procedure, the price of breast augmentation is highly variable. Patients in the US report spending an average of $6,600 on the procedure. Your price may vary depending on your geographical location.
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