Plastic surgery has become an increasingly common practice throughout the world, but breast augmentation, also known as breast enhancement, is by far the most well-known and popular procedure. It is estimated that in America, four percent of women or one in every 26, has had breast implants. With swimsuit season here in full force, many women are ready to consider this option but still have relevant questions about what the procedure entails. To answer some of those questions, here is a comprehensive view of the breast enhancement procedure.
What Is Breast Enhancement?
Breast augmentation is a plastic surgery procedure that involves changing the size, fullness or shape of the breast. This is typically accomplished with implants. Women choose to have the breast enhancement procedure for a variety of personal reasons. Therefore, choosing the type of implants will ultimately be based on aesthetic preference and in some cases cost or the age of the patient.
Types of Implants
Most doctors use either saline or silicone gel implants for breast enhancement. When using a saline implant, an empty elastomer silicone shell is placed inside the breast and filled with a sterile saline (salt water) fluid until it reaches the desired size. These implants are believed to give the breast a firm and bouncy appearance. They are also slightly less expensive than silicone implants.
In contrast, silicone implants are made with a polymer gel and are more gelatinous than saline. They are made prior to the procedure and are tailored to the shape and size that the patient desires. They are generally known to have a more natural appearance in size, shape, and texture.
There is no universal approach to breast enhancement. There’s a wide array of widths and volumes to examine when considering this procedure. The most successful results are obtained when the implant is thoughtfully matched to meet the predetermined goals of the patient.
Why Choose Breast Enhancement?
Initially, most people sought breast enhancement to achieve a larger breast size. But now there are valid aesthetic and health-related issues that cause women to seek this procedure. In some instances, a woman’s breast flattens after having children and consistent breastfeeding. Some women have breast asymmetry in which one breast is larger than the other. And yet other women feel the need for an enhancement after having a mastectomy or due to a hereditary defect. Regardless of each individual’s unique reason, breast enhancement provides a greater sense of self-confidence and improves body image. Whether looking for a mommy makeover or needing reconstruction for medical reasons, many women find great satisfaction out of attaining their ideal breasts.
Who Is the Best Candidate for Breast Implants?
Any healthy woman who is at least 18 years old can qualify to receive saline breast implants. However, per FDA guidelines, patients must be 22 years of age or older to be eligible to receive silicone implants. Typically, women who live a healthy lifestyle are great candidates for a breast enhancement procedure. Ideal candidates generally meet the following conditions:
- Maintains a stable weight
- Are Nonsmokers
- Not pregnant or breastfeeding
- Not on blood thinners
- Not planning on breastfeeding in the future
- No significant family history of breast cancer
Choosing the Right Plastic Surgeon
The process of deciding to have breast augmentation surgery can be emotional for some women. Anytime a person is considering plastic surgery they should always choose a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It’s important to look for a surgeon who has experience in the specific type of breast enhancement that you require. Other conditions to consider include:
- Is the staff professional and do they respond to questions appropriately?
- Does the surgeon have hospital privileges?
- Is the practice upfront about fees?
- Do the doctor and staff create a trusting atmosphere?
- Does the doctor have safety protocols in place?
The Breast Enhancement Consultation
The breast enhancement consultation is a time for you to express your specific desires regarding the appearance you’d like to achieve after the augmentation. The doctor will review your health history and foster a candid conversation regarding what realistic results you can expect from the procedure. Once a surgical plan is put in place, your doctor will thoroughly explain the procedure as well as pre and post-operative care. The following are basic questions that should be asked during a breast enhancement consultation:
- What can I expect from the recovery process?
- What is the cost of the surgery?
- How long will the procedure be?
- How will the implants look over time?
- What are the risks associated with the procedure?
Always ask to see pictures of your surgeon’s previous work.
The Breast Enhancement Procedure
Most surgeons opt to use a general anesthesia for this procedure, although it is not universal. The surgeon will generally make a short incision to form a pocket on the breast where the implant will be placed. The most common incision points are above the armpit, around the areola or on the underside of the breast. The placement of the incision will generally depend on a variety of factors, some of which include:
- The size of the implant
- The patient’s body type
- What kind of implant is being used
- The surgeon’s preference
After the implant is carefully positioned, the pocket will be sealed with layered sutures or stitches. You will be bandaged and will need to wear a surgical bra to assist with healing. The surgery generally takes one to two hours to complete, at which time, you will be monitored in a recovery room.
The Breast Enhancement Recovery
The first two to three days after breast enhancement surgery may be the toughest period of the recuperation process. Most patients will experience moderate pain wish can be addressed through pain medication. There will also be bruising and swelling, and some people experience nausea from the anesthesia. Most patients can return to work after one week following the surgery but should avoid strenuous activity for the next four weeks.