Breast Augmentation

Am I a good candidate for breast augmentation?

One or more of the following feelings or conditions may indicate that you are a good candidate for breast augmentation:

  • you are bothered by the feeling that your breasts are too small
  • clothes that fit well around your hips are often too large at the bustline
  • you feel self-conscious wearing a swimsuit or form-fitting top
  • your breasts have become smaller and lost their firmness after having children
  • weight loss has changed the size and shape of your breasts
  • one of your breasts is noticeably smaller than the other

Your Personal Consultation

During the consultation, you will be asked about your desired breast size and anything else related to the appearance of your breasts that you feel is important. This will help your surgeon to understand your expectations and determine whether they realistically can be achieved.

How will my ACSN plastic surgeon evaluate me for breast augmentation surgery?

Your plastic surgeon will examine your breasts and perhaps take photographs for your medical record. He or she will consider such factors as the size and shape of your breasts, the quality of your skin and the placement of your nipples and areolas (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipples). If your breasts are sagging, a breast lift may be recommended in conjunction with augmentation.

How should I prepare for breast augmentation plastic surgery?

In some instances, your plastic surgeon may recommend a baseline mammogram before surgery and another mammographic examination some months after surgery. This will help to detect any future changes in your breast tissue. Following breast augmentation, you will still be able to perform breast self-examination.

If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid taking these medications for a period of time before surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions.

What will the day of breast implant surgery be like?

Your breast augmentation surgery may be performed in a hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite.

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Frequently, local anesthesia and intravenous sedation are used for patients undergoing breast augmentation, although general anesthesia may be desirable in some instances.

When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. Your breasts will be wrapped in gauze dressings or a surgical bra.

You may be permitted to go home after a few hours, unless you and your plastic surgeon have determined that you will stay in the hospital or surgical facility overnight.

What should I expect during the recovery process?


At the conclusion of your breast augmentation procedure, you may be placed in a surgical dressing that may include a support bra or garment. You should follow your plastic surgeon's directions as prescribed. Prior to your discharge, you and your caregiver will be given detailed instructions about your post-surgical care including drains if they have been placed, the normal symptoms you will experience, and any potential signs of complication.

You should be walking under your own strength immediately after your breast augmentation surgery. It is very important that you walk a few minutes every few hours to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in your legs.

The first 2-5 days following your breast augmentation surgery you may feel stiff and sore in the chest region. Any dressings will be removed within several days, and you may be instructed to wear a support bra. Your breasts may feel tight and sensitive to the touch, and your skin may feel warm or itchy. You may experience difficulty raising your arms. You should not lift, push or pull anything, or engage in any strenuous activity or twisting of the upper body. Some discoloration and swelling will occur initially, but this will disappear quickly. Most residual swelling will resolve within a month.

When can I expect to resume my normal activities after my breast augmentation?

While it will take several days to return to more normal activities after your breast augmentation, it is important to your recovery that you get up and move around. After breast augmentation, it is often possible to return to work within just a few days or a week, depending on the type of activities that are required at your job. Physical activity should be avoided for at least the first couple of weeks following surgery. After that, care must be taken to be extremely gentle with your breasts for at least the next month.

What type of breast implants can be used for breast augmentation?

The implant is placed in a pocket either directly behind the breast tissue (right) or underneath the pectoral muscle which is located between the breast tissue and chest wall. The size and type of breast implant recommended for you will be determined by your goals for breast enhancement, your existing body frame, and mass, your existing breast tissue, and the preferences you and your plastic surgeon discuss. All breast implants include a solid silicone rubber outer shell, called a lumen.

Breast implant options include:

  • Saline breast implants: Filled with sterile salt water. Saline implants may be pre-filled to a predetermined size. Saline may also be filled at the time of surgery to allow for minor modifications in implant size.
  • Silicone filled breast implants: Filled with soft, elastic gel. All silicone breast implants are pre-filled and may require a longer incision for implant placement.

Where are the incisions made for the placement of breast implants?

An incision can be made either underneath the breast, just above the crease, around the lower edge of the areola or within the armpit.

One of the advantages of a saline-filled implant is that, because it is filled with saltwater after being inserted, only a small incision is needed. Often, an incision of less than one inch is made underneath the breast, just above the crease, where it is usually quite inconspicuous.

Another possible location for the incision is around the lower edge of the areola. A third alternative is to make a small incision within the armpit.

Once the incision is made, the surgeon creates a pocket into which the implant will be inserted. This pocket is made either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath the pectoral muscle which is located between the breast tissue and chest wall.

Understanding Risks

Every year, many thousands of women undergo successful breast augmentation surgery; however, anyone considering surgery should be aware of both the benefits and risks. I understand that every plastic surgical procedure has risks, but how will I learn more so that I can make an informed decision? The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon, or with a staff member in your surgeon's office.

Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include reactions to anesthesia, blood accumulation that may need to be drained surgically and infection. Although rare, an infection that does not subside with appropriate treatment may require temporary removal of the implant. Changes in nipple or breast sensation may result from breast augmentation surgery, although they usually are temporary.

When a breast implant is inserted, a scar capsule forms around it as part of the natural healing process. The capsule may sometimes tighten and compress the implant, causing the breast to feel firmer than normal. Capsular contracture can occur to varying degrees. If it is severe, it can cause discomfort or changes in the breast's appearance. In such cases, more surgery may be needed to modify or remove the scar tissue, or perhaps remove or replace the implant.

Breast implants are not lifetime devices and cannot be expected to last forever. If a saline-filled implant breaks, its contents are harmlessly absorbed by the body within hours. A definite change in the size of the breast is clearly noticed. Rupture can occur as a result of trauma to the chest, but more commonly it occurs spontaneously with no apparent cause. Surgery will be required to replace the implant, if desired.

Results of Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation will make your breasts fuller and enhance their shape. You will find it easier to wear certain styles of clothing. Like many women who have had breast augmentation, you may have a boost in self-confidence.

How long will the results last after a breast augmentation?

Except in the event of implant deflation requiring surgical replacement with a new implant, the results of your breast augmentation surgery will be long-lasting. However, gravity and the effects of aging will eventually alter the size and shape of virtually every woman's breasts. If, after a period of years, you become dissatisfied with the appearance of your breasts, you may choose to undergo a breast "lifting" to restore their more youthful contour.

Maintaining a Relationship with Your Plastic Surgeon

You will return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up care at prescribed intervals, at which time your progress will be evaluated. Your surgeon will encourage you to schedule routine mammographic evaluations at the frequency recommended for your age group. Please remember that the relationship with your plastic surgeon does not end when you leave the operating room. If you have questions or concerns during your recovery, or need additional information at a later time, you should contact your surgeon.