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Surgical Breast Enlargement Explained

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 18 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Surgery Augmentation Implants Breast

Breast enlargement, also known as breast augmentation or breast enhancement, is one of the most common types of cosmetic surgery carried out in the world today. Women choose breast enlargements for many reasons, including that they have had surgery to treat breast cancer, because they desire a larger, fuller chest or even because their breasts have decreased in size following childbirth or dramatic weight loss. Some women may also choose to undergo surgery to enlarge just one breast if they feel that their natural breasts were not of the same size or shape previously. While a cosmetic surgeon will be able to explain the finer points of surgical breast enlargement, the general process is explained below.

Understanding the Risks

As with any surgery there are risks associated with breast enlargement both during and after the surgery itself. During the surgery there are risks such as adverse reaction to the anaesthesia, however, discussing all medical history with the cosmetic surgeon should minimise any such complications. After the surgery some risks include a build up of scar tissue by the implant, possible movement or displacement of the implant, deflation or collapse of the implant, liquid leaking from the implant and/or liquid shifting inside the implant which could cause rippling on the skin. Women should discuss possible risks and complications of surgery with their doctors before making any firm decisions.

Selecting Implants

When all risks and complications are understood, selecting implants is the first step towards breast enlargement surgery. The type of implant selected will depend largely upon personal preference, but may also depend upon age as, for example, saline implants may not be recommended to women still in their teens. There are two options for implants: saline and silicone. Saline implants are filled with salt water (saline) and many women select these because the water level can be adjusted to change the shape and feel of the breast. Silicone implants are filled with an elastic gel (silicone) and are often chosen because they move a lot like natural breasts, however some women believe that they feel slighter firmer or harder than natural breasts.

Undergoing Surgery

Breast enlargement surgery generally takes between 60 and 90 minutes and is usually conducted under general anaesthesia. The surgery itself contains just a few steps. First a small incision is made which is usually either under the breast, in the armpit or near the nipple. The selected implant is then inserted via this incision and placed either under the chest muscle or over the chest muscle but behind the breast tissue. When the implant is in place, the incision is closed with sutures (stitches). The incision is then covered with a dressing and the breasts are usually covered with a sports bra. If the stitches are not the dissolving kind, then they may need to be removed about a week later. Specific instructions will be given following the surgery.

Recovering from Surgical Breast Enlargement

Following the specific instructions given by the plastic surgeon is the most important part of recovering from surgical breast enlargement. Usually these instructions will include keeping the incision clean and dry, returning to have stitches removed and the breasts checked as advised, wearing the sports bra for approximately three months and avoiding strenuous exercise or activity for a specified period of time. Most women can return to work about a week after their breast enlargement surgery.

Living with Breast Implants

Living with breast implants means remaining vigilant about the state of the implants and overall breast health. Breast self exams should still be carried out monthly, and women who undergo mammograms should tell radiographers if they have implants in order to adjust the x-ray techniques accordingly. Because implants can leak, women should also regularly inspect the feel of their breasts/implants. Women with leaking saline implants can rest easy knowing that their implants will collapse and any escaped saline is absorbed and naturally expelled from the body. Women with silicone implants will need to be more observant because their implants may not collapse. Regular ultrasounds or MRIs may be recommended for women with silicone implants to track the condition of these implants.

Surgical breast enlargement is now a routine cosmetic procedure, but this does not mean that women should assume that they can breeze through it without fully understanding it. Women should make sure that they ask all of the questions they may have, and gather as much information as they need to make the right decisions regarding surgical breast enlargement.

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