Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the United States, with over 2,52,648 procedures in 2022 alone. This surgery aims to increase the size and improve the shape of the breasts through implants.
If you’ve been considering breast augmentation, it’s essential to understand precisely how the procedure works and what to expect during recovery. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of breast augmentation surgery.
How Does Breast Augmentation Work?
During breast augmentation surgery, implants are placed under the breast tissue or under the chest muscle to increase volume and enhance shape.
There are a few main choices when it comes to breast implants:
Saline vs. Silicone Implants
• Saline implants are filled with a sterile saltwater solution. They have a silicone outer shell and are filled during the surgery.
• Silicone implants are pre-filled with a viscous silicone gel. Silicone implants feel more natural, while saline implants are often more affordable.
- Round implants provide more fullness and are the most common shape.
- Teardrop or anatomical implants are designed to look more like natural breast tissue. They are textured to help them stay in position.
- Submuscular placement under the pectoral muscle provides more coverage but can involve a longer recovery.
- Subglandular placement under the breast tissue offers quicker recovery but less coverage of the implant edges. This may work better for women with enough breast tissue to cover the edges.
There are a few possible incision sites when placing the implants:
- Inframammary incision underneath the breast
- A periareolar incision along the lower edge of the areola
- Transaxillary incision within the armpit
- Transumbilical incision through the belly button
The surgeon will help determine the best location based on the implant type, degree of enlargement desired, and your anatomy.
What Can I Expect During Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Breast augmentation takes 1-2 hours and is typically done under general anesthesia. Here’s a general outline of what to expect:
- IV line is inserted to administer fluids and medications
- Anesthesia is administered to put you to sleep
- Antibiotics are given to prevent infection
- Incisions made based on predetermined locations
- Breast tissue is lifted to create the implant pocket
- Implants are placed in the bag and filled if using saline
- Incisions closed with layered sutures and surgical tape
- Bandages and compression bra applied over breasts
Recovery Timeline and Tips
While recovery is unique for each patient, most can return to regular activities within 1-2 weeks. Here is a general recovery timeline:
- Days 1-3: Take it very easy. Have someone available to assist you. Use ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort. Take prescription pain meds as directed.
- Week 1: Discomfort and tightness improve daily. To avoid strain, bruising, and swelling, continue to limit arm movement. Continue ice packs and meds.
- Week 2: Stitches removed. The swelling continues going down. You can lift arms above head—resume light lower body exercise.
- Week 3: Transition to a soft, supportive bra. Bruising fades. Incisions heal well. Can start scar treatment.
- Week 4: Swelling subsiding. It is more comfortable to sleep on your stomach. Ok, for light cardio and upper body exercise.
- Week 6: Swelling gone. Scars continue improving. You can resume all regular activities and exercise.
Tips for Ensuring Optimal Recovery
Have someone available to help with daily tasks for the first 3-5 days
- Use ice packs regularly to reduce swelling
- Take short, frequent walks to prevent blood clots
- Sleep propped on the back using pillows to keep swelling down
- Follow all instructions for incision care and medication
- Wear the recommended compression garment as directed
- Avoid lifting anything over 5-10 lbs for 4-6 weeks
- Listen to your body and increase activity slowly
- Use vitamin E oil or silicone scar sheets starting at three weeks
Potential Risks and Complications
While breast augmentation is typically very safe when performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, there are some potential risks to consider:
- Anesthesia risks: nausea, vomiting, respiratory issues
- Bleeding/bruising at incision sites
- Infection requiring antibiotics or drainage
- Asymmetry due to improper healing or implant displacement
- Visible scarring at incision locations
- Implant leakage or rupture over time
- Capsular contracture forms tight scar tissue around the implant
- Need for revision surgery to adjust implants later on
Carefully following post-op instructions can help reduce complications. Contact your surgeon immediately if you experience signs of infection, excessive bleeding, or other problems.
Types of Patients Who Get Breast Augmentation
There are a variety of reasons women choose to get breast augmentation surgery. Here are some of the most common:
- Increase breast size and fullness due to minor or underdeveloped breasts
- Improve breast shape and symmetry if breasts are differently sized or shaped
- Restore breast volume lost after weight loss or pregnancy
- Reconstruct breasts after a mastectomy due to cancer
- Revise a previous breast augmentation for improved aesthetic results
Consulting with an Experienced Surgeon
When considering breast augmentation, meeting with a board-certified plastic surgeon is essential. An experienced surgeon will:
• Evaluate your health, anatomy, and goals
• Discuss the options to determine the right implant type/size
• Explain the procedure, recovery, and potential risks
• Show before and after photos to set realistic expectations
Reputable surgeons like Dr. DeLozier invest extensive time discussing your objectives and desired outcomes. This helps ensure you fully understand the process and can make an informed decision.
Breast augmentation offers an effective way to increase breast size and achieve beautiful, proportional results. While recovery takes 2-6 weeks, most women are thrilled with the final improvements to their figure. Following post-op instructions and allowing the body ample healing time can help you safely get back to all normal activities. Partnering with an experienced, skilled surgeon increases the likelihood of attaining your aesthetic goals.