If you are unhappy with the size or shape of your breasts, you may want to consider breast implant surgery. Breast augmentation, also called augmentation mammoplasty, is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States with more than 350,000 procedures performed every year. Breast surgery can improve the fullness and projection of the breasts as well as the symmetry and balance of your figure. Many women turn to breast augmentation to restore volume or symmetry of the breasts following weight loss or pregnancy. Dr. Robert Walton is a Board Certified plastic surgeon specializing in facial and breast procedures.
What is Breast Augmentation?
Breast enlargement surgery is a cosmetic procedure that increases or restores volume to the breasts using breast implants. This procedure involves placing saline or silicone implants to increase the size of breasts while improving fullness, shape, and symmetry. Breast implant surgery can be performed in many ways. The procedure may be done using saline or silicone implants, each with unique advantages. Implants also vary in terms of shape and texture. The procedure itself may be performed using one of several incision types and the implants may be placed above (subglandular) or below (submuscular) the muscle of the chest.
Why Have a Breast Augmentation Procedure?
Breast augmentation has been performed for decades with an established safety record and a high patient satisfaction rate. There are many reasons women consider breast augmentation. Common reasons for the surgery include:
- Improving the proportion of the breasts to the rest of the body
- Improving how your clothes fit
- Correcting changes to the size and shape of the breasts following weight loss or aging
- Restoring breast size and shape following pregnancy and childbirth
- Achieving symmetry if one breast is smaller than the other
- Restoring breast size following mastectomy
Breast Augmentation Procedure
Before proceeding with your surgery, Dr. Walton will help you understand your breast implant options to decide upon an implant type, incision location, and implant location that is right for you. There are two main types of breast implants: saline and silicone breast implants. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water which can be safely absorbed by the body if the implant fails and leaks. Saline implants are inflated after they are positioned into the breast which means a smaller incision is possible. Silicone breast implants are pre-filled with silicone gel. Many women prefer silicone implants because they tend to produce a more natural feel and appearance with a lower risk of rippling or wrinkling.
There are sub-types of both types of implants. Silicone and saline implants are available with a smooth or textured shell. Implants also come in various shapes. The “teardrop” shape is fuller in the lower half to produce a more natural breast. Round breast implants are the most common and they produce a fuller appearance throughout the breast with less risk of the implant rotating and distorting the appearance of the breast.
Dr. Walton will also help you determine an appropriate implant size to achieve the most natural results with breasts that are proportionate to your body without ripping or wrinkling. Another important decision to make is the location of the incision. Breast augmentation may be performed with an incision around the areola, under the creases of the breasts, under the armpit, or through the belly button. Incision locations are more limited with silicone implants due to their size. Implants may be placed under the breast tissue and over the muscle or under both the breast tissue and the muscle. Placing implants under the muscle produces the most natural-looking results although it does increase recovery time.
Breast augmentation is performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, an incision will be made and a pocket will be created in the breast area to place the implant. The incision location will depend on the type of implant, the degree of enlargement, your anatomy, and any preference you have indicated with Dr. Walton. Incisions will be made in inconspicuous areas to minimize visible scars. If the implants will be placed under the muscle, an incision in the pectoral muscle will be necessary. This will increase healing time but reduce complications.
After surgery, you will need to wear a supportive garment to reduce swelling and keep the implants in the correct position during the healing process. You will experience the most pain and discomfort during the first two days as the surgery stretches the breast tissue. Dr. Walton will provide pain medication to make this process easier. Your breasts will feel sensitive and tight for about one week and you may have trouble lifting your arms. Some swelling and bruising is common at first but it will resolve on its own. Most swelling resolves within one month to reveal your final results.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may be able to return to work after a few days. You will need to avoid pushing, pulling, or lifting anything that causes discomfort. Exercise should be minimized for the first two weeks. You will need to sleep on your back with your head elevated for the first few days to avoid swelling and complications.
While breast implant surgery is safe, any surgery comes with risks. Potential risks of surgery include reaction to anesthesia, infection, bleeding, changes in breast or nipple sensation, poor scarring, implant leaking or rupture, scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture), fluid accumulation, wrinkling of the skin, and the possible need for revision breast surgery.
Are You a Candidate?
Healthy, non-smoking women who wish to improve the size or appearance of their breasts may be good candidates for breast augmentation surgery. Ideal candidates have a good attitude and realistic expectations about the results of surgery. This procedure may be a good option for you if you want to improve the proportions of your figure, restore symmetry to one or both breasts, or if weight loss, aging, or pregnancy has affected the shape and size of your breasts. Many women who choose breast implant surgery feel their breasts are too small for their body type or are self-conscious about their breasts following weight loss or pregnancy.
Breast implants will not correct drooping of the breasts. If you are primarily concerned with sagging, a breast lift may be a better option. A breast lift can be done in conjunction with augmentation to lift the breasts and make them fuller and more symmetrical.
Breast Augmentation FAQs
How long will the procedure last?
While the length of surgery depends on the implant type, incision location, and degree of enhancement, most breast surgery lasts one to two hours.
What can I expect after the procedure
You will likely feel very tired and sore for the first few days after surgery. It’s common to feel tightness and sensitivity in the breasts as your skin adjusts to the new shape. It’s normal to feel reduced sensation in the nipples and breasts during the first stage of recovery. You will need to wear a compression bandage or special postoperative bra while you heal and avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks.
Are there risks?
There are risks with any surgery and breast augmentation is no exception. Along with general surgical risks like reaction to anesthesia, infection, or bleeding, potential risks of breast implant surgery include capsular contracture and implant leakage or rupture. Capsular contracture refers to tight scar tissue forming around the implants. Both complications may require revision breast surgery.
How soon can I return to work?
Depending on your job, you may return to work within a few days. If your job requires strenuous lifting or activity, Dr. Walton may advise waiting one week or longer to return to work.
The next step to achieving your cosmetic goal for breast enhancement is to call our office for a consultation. This one-on-one time allows you to investigate all the available options for breast augmentation and to get to know Dr. Walton. You will never feel pressured to choose surgery, and we recommend that you bring a family member or trusted friend with you to be sure you ask all the questions you wish. Your consultation fee is applied toward any surgery plan. For an appointment, please call Grace at our Chicago plastic surgery office at 312-337-7795 or fill out the contact form in this page. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your image transformation here in Chicago.