Breast augmentation is a common type of cosmetic surgery that uses breast implants or fat transfer to increase the size and shape of your breasts. There are several types of breast implants and surgical procedures, so it's important to talk to your surgeon about what will work best for you.
Breast augmentation is a common surgical procedure that increases the size and shape of your breasts. Your breasts can be augmented using breast implants or fat transfer.
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There are two main types of breast augmentation: breast implants and fat transfer augmentation. Within those two categories, there are multiple different options based on how you want your breasts to look and feel. Certain breast implants are only FDA-approved for certain ages. It’s important to fully research and know the pros and cons of each option and to talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon before opting for breast augmentation.
Breast implants are the most common type of breast augmentation. Breast implant options include:
Fat transfer breast augmentation: In a fat transfer breast augmentation, your surgeon will use liposuction to take fat from another area of your body and then inject that fat into your breasts. This type of augmentation is usually for people who want a relatively small increase in their breast size. In most cases, your surgeon will take fat tissue from one of the following areas:
There are many reasons you may want or choose to undergo breast augmentation surgery, including:
Breast augmentation is the most popular type of cosmetic surgery. Every year, around 300,000 people have breast augmentation surgery in the United States.
Before you undergo breast augmentation, you'll meet with your plastic surgeon. You should prepare for this consultation by thinking about what you want to change about your breasts. Remember, you're not seeking perfection, but improvement. Also, be sure that you're in good mental and physical health, overall, and that you have realistic expectations.
Your surgeon will ask you detailed questions about your medical history, including:
It may be helpful to ask your surgeon the following questions during your breast augmentation consultation:
In preparation for your breast augmentation surgery, your surgeon may have you:
It’s crucial to follow any instructions that your surgeon gives you before your surgery. Following their instructions will help the surgery go more smoothly and will help you heal properly.
You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and also have someone stay with you the first night at least. You will need to take at least three days off from work, so plan accordingly. If you have a labor-intensive job, you will likely need to take off at least three weeks of work.
Establishing a home recovery area
Before you undergo breast augmentation surgery, you should set up an area in your home for recovery. Make sure you have:
There are many steps involved in breast augmentation surgery. Here’s an explanation of the steps.
Your surgeon will perform the surgery while you are under general anesthesia (you'll go to sleep) or through IV sedation. You and your surgeon will determine this together.
Breast augmentation can be performed in one of several ways. Your surgeon can perform the procedure:
Your surgeon will discuss these possible methods with you before your surgery, and together you will determine which approach best suits your needs.
There are two different ways for your surgeon to insert the implant: under your breast tissue and in front of your muscle or behind your breast muscle (pectoral muscle). The placement of the implants depends on a few factors, including the type of implant you choose and how much you’re increasing the size of your breasts. You can discuss the benefits of each method with your surgeon and make that decision together.
Closing the incision
After your surgeon places your implants, they will stitch the incision sites together to close them. Your surgeon may also use drainage tubes. You must follow your surgeon's follow-up care instructions for the incision site. Your breasts will be covered with a gauze bandage and you may be sent home wearing a surgical bra.
Right after your breast augmentation surgery, a healthcare provider will take you to a room for observation while you wake up from the surgery. You’ll be able to leave the hospital once you’re stable enough. This usually takes around an hour.
Before you leave, your surgeon will give you specific instructions for your breast augmentation surgery recovery and schedule a follow-up appointment. Your surgeon will give you a prescription for medication to control pain, if necessary. If you have drainage tubes, your surgeon will tell you when to return to have those removed, as well as instructions as to when to remove the gauze bandages.
Your surgeon will probably remove your stitches in about one week. You should not do any heavy lifting for at least four weeks. If you are physically active in sports, it may take up to six weeks before you can return to those activities.
People typically undergo breast augmentation to change the appearance of their breasts. This may help increase confidence and self-esteem.
As with any surgery, there are side effects, and you do risk certain complications. Side effects of breast augmentation surgery can include:
Immediate complications of breast augmentation surgery, though rare, can include:
Complications from breast augmentation surgery that might happen over time can include:
Other important considerations to take into account include:
It’s very important to do your research before choosing a plastic surgeon. Only get a breast augmentation from a board-certified plastic surgeon.
Although all breast tissue is in front of the implant, breast implants can affect self-examinations. You’ll need to become familiar with examining your breast(s) with the implant in place.
Implants can also make it more difficult for a mammogram to detect the presence of cancer. However, as screening technology becomes more advanced, the issue of implants preventing the detection of cancer becomes less of an issue.
Currently, if you have breast implants, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Breast Imaging, and the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons recommend that you receive your breast examinations at a facility accredited by the American College of Radiology. Because they are capable of multiple, special views of the breasts, these facilities will be more equipped to make a proper evaluation than screening clinics, which often only screen using two basic views of the breast.
Everyone heals differently, so recovery time for breast augmentation surgery can vary depending on the type of breast augmentation you had and your overall health. On average, full recovery takes about six to eight weeks.
Your plastic surgeon will give you specific instructions for your recovery plan and when you can return to physical activities. Be sure to follow them. Your surgeon will likely encourage you to slowly ease back into your normal daily routine and light exercise after the first week of your surgery. You should avoid intense or jarring physical activities such as running, horseback riding or heavy lifting until you’ve fully recovered. In most cases, surgeons recommend that people who have labor-intensive jobs should wait at least three weeks before returning to work.
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
In most cases, breast augmentation is considered elective cosmetic surgery and therefore insurance carriers will not cover the procedure or any necessary follow-up visits. Your premiums for future insurance coverage may increase. Additionally, insurance might not cover the procedure should you want your implants removed in the future. Therefore, it’s important to receive your doctor's charges in writing.
However, if you are having implants put in as part of reconstructive surgery, your insurance carrier may provide coverage. It's very important that you find out well in advance of your surgery what type of coverage your carrier may provide.
Yes, a plastic surgeon can remove your implants through breast implant removal surgery. Since breast implants aren’t guaranteed to last a lifetime, many people who’ve had breast implant surgery will need another breast implant procedure in the future. These procedures include:
Breast augmentation surgery can affect the nerves and ducts within your breast, which could affect lactation. Breast implants that are placed below your muscle usually affect milk production less than implants that are above your muscle. Surgical incisions around your areola are more likely to cause reductions in milk production. It’s important to talk to your plastic surgeon if you’re planning on breastfeeding in the future before you get a breast augmentation.
Breast implants are a type of breast augmentation, which is a surgery that increases the size and shape of your breasts. The other type of breast augmentation is fat transfer breast augmentation.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Breast augmentations are a common cosmetic surgery and usually have high satisfaction rates. However, it’s important to consider all the risks and possible side effects of having breast augmentation surgery. Be sure to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon and discuss all of your wants, needs and concerns. Together you’ll decide on the type of augmentation and surgery that works best for you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/24/2021.
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