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Breast Augmentation

Overview

While breast augmentation procedures are performed for a variety of reasons, and each one is tailored according to the unique and specific needs of each patient, the goal of most breast augmentation surgeries is the same. Breast augmentation is designed to enhance the fullness, volume, and proportional balance of the breasts and to elevate the self-confidence of the patient with a more attractive appearance.

Types of Breast Augmentation

There are two types of breast augmentations procedures: breast implant surgery and fat transfers. Implant procedures utilize saline (sterile salt water), silicone, or gummy bear (silicone gel-filled) implants, which are slipped into a small incision to fill the breast with volume. More recently, the third type of implant has become available, known as the structured implant or more commonly, the “ideal implant”. The ideal implant features a silicone shell combined with an inner chamber filled with saline and is thought to represent a blend of the best characteristics of silicone and saline implant materials. Incisions are most commonly made around the nipple, under the armpit, or on the inframammary fold (where the chest and the bottom of the breast meat). Navel insertion, while it might result in no visible scarring, is not usually recommended or practiced by surgeons as it can elevate the risk of complications.

Breast augmentation with autologous fat transplantation is another type of surgery option used to enlarge the breasts. This procedure uses fat grafted from other areas of the body (usually the stomach, hips, or thighs) through liposuction. The harvested fat is then prepared for injection into the breasts to add volume, enhance shape, and improve proportion.

While a fat transfer is generally a safer and less complicated procedure for breast enhancement, the results are not as dramatic or striking as they are with implants. Instead, breast augmentation with fat transfer tends to offer more subtle and natural looking results without the potential complications or the long-term maintenance requirements that can come with implants. Many patients opt to have a fat transfer procedure done along with an implant procedure to further define and enhance the results of their breast augmentation.

Who is the Ideal Candidate For Breast Augmentation Surgery?

First and foremost, a good candidate for breast augmentation should be in good health. Candidates should have recent check-ups and breast examinations done to eliminate the possibility of a breast or health condition that could interfere with your cosmetic surgery. Additionally, patients should be screened for possible allergies to the materials to be used in implant surgery, like silicone or saline, and any other allergies that might cause complications during or after your breast augmentation procedure.

Another important factor in determining the suitability of a patient for breast augmentation is age. Candidates who are younger than 18 years old should not have breast augmentation surgery and should wait until their breasts have fully developed and matured to avoid complications in the future.

Patients should also have realistic goals and expectations regarding surgery and be capable of understanding the risks and potential complications that could occur with their choice of procedure. They should also be able to evaluate the options carefully and consider the best course of action to take to achieve the most realistic outcome—based on their individual and unique circumstances.

Who is Not Recommended for Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Breast augmentation surgery is not recommended for patients that suffer from serious medical issues, like untreated breast cancer, certain heart conditions, and other illnesses. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not good candidates for breast augmentation, and those hoping to become pregnant should speak with their doctor to determine the best timing for their future augmentation surgery. It is also important to note that patients with unrealistic expectations about breast enlargement are not recommended for surgery. Patients with a history of breast cancer may not be recommended for this procedure. If breast cancer and other breast conditions run in your family, talk with your plastic surgeon about whether breast augmentation options are right for you.

What is it like to recover from breast augmentation?

Regardless of your augmentation type, all candidates can expect pain, swelling, and bruising following this procedure. While actual recovery time will vary depending on invasiveness and how your body naturally heals, seven to 14 days is a safe amount of time to assume you’re going to feel significantly uncomfortable and not be up to going about your usual routine.

 

The Takehome Message

Making a Decision: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Breast Augmentation

For many patients, the pros of breast augmentation—that is, the physical benefits of a larger, fuller, symmetrical, and more attractive bust—far outweigh the cons. Even if you are convinced that a larger breast size is worth the surgery required to get it, knowing all of the details before making a decision is an important part of the process of deciding on whether or not to have plastic surgery. In many cases, patients seeking breast augmentation decide on a breast lift surgery instead, which can provide many of the same benefits of breast augmentation at a lesser risk for complications and other issues.

Although breast augmentation can certainly help to improve your self-confidence, enhance your appearance, and help you to live a happier life, there are many cons to consider as well. Breast augmentation surgery is a costly procedure, and as with any surgery, comes with risks and complications and the possibility of general dissatisfaction with your results.

While an excellent doctor can dramatically improve your chances for a successful outcome, it is still worth it to weigh the potential pros and cons of surgery before making a decision. This includes careful consideration of the pros and cons of each type of surgery. For example, your doctor should discuss with you the pros and cons of gummy bear, saline, and silicone implant materials, round, textured, or smooth implants, implant surgery vs. fat transfer procedures, implant placement below vs. above the muscle, the benefits of various incision locations, like under the armpit vs. periareolar incision and many other details. Once you have decided on a particular procedure and method for your surgery, find out the particular pros and cons of that surgery and how it might affect your life now, at the moment of your surgery, during the recovery process, and for years to come.

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