In This Article
Breast Augmentation (Breast Enlargement)
What is a breast augmentation (enlargement) procedure?
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure to increase the size of the breast.
Is breast augmentation a common procedure?
This is the most common surgical cosmetic procedure in the UK which reflects the high satisfaction rate it usually achieves.
Before and after photographs
Before breast enlargement
2 weeks after breast enlargement
Before breast enlargement
6 weeks after breast enlargement
Why do women seek breast augmentation (enlargement)?
Breast size is determined by each person's genetic makeup. Some people have naturally small breasts and most women have a slight difference between them. Weight changes can also affect breast size.
Breast tissue is hormonally sensitive and the size of the breast can change. This is most common after pregnancy and breast feeding when the breast undergoes a process of postpartum involution.
As women get older in addition to loss of volume, the breast may lose its natural shape and start to droop. This is known as ptosis.
What does breast augmentation (enlargement) surgery involve?
The surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic. The procedure takes between 1 and 2 hours. A small incision (approximately 6cm) is made in the crease under the breast.
Carefully selected implants are positioned in a specially created pocket under the breast. A drain is inserted which is left in situ until the following day.
Dissolvable stitches are used to close the surgical wound. An overnight stay is required during which time, you are monitored to make sure you are comfortable and the breasts are soft.
What happens after breast augmentation (enlargement) surgery?
After any surgical operation your body will need time to recover. A supportive sports bra is usually recommended for comfort. Any heavy lifting or sports should be postponed until 6 weeks after surgery.
The shape of the breast will change over the next few months as the swelling goes down and the implants settle.
What are breast implants and are they safe?
Breast implants have an outer shell and an inside filler. The filler most commonly used is silicone. The implants come in different shapes and sizes.
Breast implants sizes
Currently there is no evidence that silicone breast implants are associated with a significantly increased risk of breast cancer or autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis.
Breast screening is possible after having had implants but it is important to let the radiographer know so that special views can be taken to minimize the interference of the breast implants.
Breast implants do not usually interfere with breast feeding.
How long do breast implants last?
The life expectancy of the implant according to manufacturers is approximately 10 years or longer.
Are there risks associated with breast augmentation?
There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Those risks may be general risks associated with any operation or anaesthetic, or those specific to the procedure.
The risks of a breast augmentation procedure include, capsular contracture (5%), asymmetry, scars, infection, bleeding. The size and shape of the breasts change over a period of months following the surgery.
The response of the body to foreign material is to form a capsule or protective layer around it. This may be troublesome in some people (5%) where the capsule is thicker. The symptoms it may produce include the implant becoming more visible, increased firmness and in some patients pain. Further treatment may be required to address this.
Most women have some degree of asymmetry between the breasts often that they have not noticed themselves. A breast augmentation procedure may make this slightly more obvious.
There are different approaches to inserting breast implants. The most commonly used is an incision under the breast crease that is usually well hidden. The final scar will depend on how your body heals and this varies between individuals.
Infection can occur with any surgical procedure and is usually treated with a course of antibiotics. It can be more of a problem if any type of implant is present and in extreme cases may require removal of the implant. This is a very uncommon complication.
Bleeding can occur with any surgical procedure. If a blood clot does form at the site of the operation it may need a further procedure in an operating theatre for removal and washout.
Size and shape of the breasts
The size and shape of the breast will change in the months after surgery. Some women are aware of the change in the feel of the breasts. It will be several months before the final result is evident.
An estimate of final cup size is realistic but there is no absolute guarantee of cup size following this procedure.
It is very important for you to discuss your expectations with your surgeon and to be realistic about them as this is the key to maximising the likelihood of your satisfaction with the result.
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