What is breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation, sometimes referred to as a "breast aug" or "boob job" by patients, involves using breast implants or fat transfer to increase the size of your breasts. This procedure can also restore breast volume lost after weight reduction or pregnancy, achieve a more rounded breast shape or improve natural breast size asymmetry.
Breast augmentation is also referred to as augmentation mammoplasty. When fat from another part of the patient's body is used to create the improved breast volume, the procedure is referred to as fat transfer breast augmentation.
What breast augmentation surgery can do
Increase fullness and projection of your breasts
Improve balance of breast and hip contours
Enhance your self-image and self-confidence
Breast implants may also be used for breast reconstruction after mastectomy or injury.
What breast augmentation surgery can't do
Breast augmentation does not correct severely drooping breasts. A breast lift may be required along with a breast augmentation for sagging breasts to look fuller and lifted.
Breast lifting can often be done at the same time as your augmentation or may require a separate operation. Your plastic surgeon will assist you in making this decision.
Who is a good candidate for breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation is a deeply personal procedure, and it's important that you're doing it for yourself and not for someone else, even if that person has offered to pay for it. Patient satisfaction is high, specifically when they want the procedure themselves.
You may be a candidate for breast augmentation if:
You are physically healthy and you aren't pregnant or breastfeeding
You have realistic expectations
Your breasts are fully developed
You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts are too small
You are dissatisfied with your breasts losing shape and volume after pregnancy, weight loss or with aging
You are unhappy with the upper part of your breast appearing "empty"
Your breasts are asymmetrical
One or both breasts failed to develop normally or have an elongated shape
If you're considering surgery, spend some time reviewing breast augmentation photos and learning about what to expect during recovery. Preparation ahead of time helps patients have reasonable expectations and a smoother recovery.
What are the risks of breast augmentation?
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal and you will have to weigh the potential benefits in achieving your goals with the risks and potential complications of breast augmentation. Only you can make that decision for yourself.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Possible breast augmentation surgery risks include:
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
Changes in nipple or breast sensation
Fluid accumulation (seroma)
Formation of tight scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture)
Implant leakage or rupture
Possibility of revision surgery
Wrinkling of the skin over the implant
Wrong or faulty position of the implant
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Breast implant safety
FDA-approved breast implants undergo extensive testing to demonstrate reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. The vast majority of people with breast implants experience no serious complications. However, there are risks associated with breast implants, including breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) and systemic symptoms commonly referred to as breast implant illness (BII) that some patients attribute to their implants, which can include fatigue, "brain fog," muscle or joint pain and rash. In the event any complication develops, patients should consult a board-certified plastic surgeon to address it in a timely manner. Likewise, if a patient desires to have breast implants removed – for any reason – she should consult her plastic surgeon.
Other important considerations:
Breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime and future surgery may be required to replace one or both implants
Pregnancy, weight loss and menopause may influence the appearance of augmented breasts over the course of your lifetime
Breast augmentation requires regular examinations of your breasts' health and to evaluate the condition of your breast implants
What should I expect during my breast augmentation recovery?
During your breast augmentation recovery, your breasts will be wrapped in gauze dressings and an elastic bandage or support bra will minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal.
Immediately after surgery, you will be taken into a recovery area for close monitoring. You may be permitted to go home when you are stable for discharge, typically after an hour or so.
Before leaving, you will be given specific postoperative instructions for your breast implant recovery and a follow-up appointment with your plastic surgeon. You may also receive medications or a prescription, but many plastic surgeons prescribe postoperative medications in advance. Your prescribed medications may include pain pills and an antibiotic to prevent infection.
Wear your support garment (a bra or elastic band, called a bandeau) around the clock as instructed by your plastic surgeon. Some surgeons may ask patients cleanse the incision sites and apply ointment, while others will ask their patients to keep tape or a bandage on. Instructions vary, so it's important to follow all your plastic surgeon's directions carefully.
Because it is possible to bleed into the pockets around the breast implants for the first several days, take it easy until you have permission to increase your activity level. Acute pain typically subsides after one to five days, but you may experience soreness and swelling for a few weeks. Resume exercise and normal activity according to your plastic surgeon's directions.
What results should I expect after breast augmentation surgery?
While a breast augmentation yields larger breasts right away, the final results may take a few weeks as the swelling subsides and the skin stretches. Some patients may need to wear a bandeau to help shape their breasts, especially if they have underlying asymmetry or very small breasts to start with. Incision lines may take several months, even a couple of years, to fade.
To achieve optimal breast augmentation results, follow your surgeon's post-operative instructions and return for follow-up visits.
Breast implant replacement
Breast implants are not considered to be lifetime devices, and they may need to be replaced. You can see your plastic surgeon for an annual examination to evaluate your breast health and implant integrity.
Over time, your breasts will change due to aging, weight fluctuations, hormonal factors and gravity. As the appearance of their breasts changes with time, some patients have a breast lift or an implant exchange to restore a more youthful contour.
This article was taken from AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGEONS web page: