Breast implant surgery, also known as breast augmentation or augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves the placement of implants to enhance the size, shape, and overall appearance of the breasts. It is a cosmetic procedure aimed at improving the aesthetic appeal of the breasts and achieving the desired breast size and contour.
Purpose of Breast Implant Surgery
Enhancing Breast Size and Volume
One of the primary purposes of breast implant surgery is to increase the size and volume of the breasts. It is often sought by individuals who desire larger breasts or those who have experienced a loss of breast volume due to factors such as pregnancy, weight loss, or aging.
Improving Breast Shape and Contour
Breast implant surgery can also address concerns related to breast shape and contour. It can help achieve a more symmetrical appearance, correct breast asymmetry, or improve breast shape and projection.
Restoring Breast Fullness and Proportions
Breast implant surgery can be beneficial for individuals who feel that their breasts are underdeveloped or disproportionate to their body frame. It can create a more balanced and harmonious overall body silhouette.
Enhancing Self-Confidence and Body Image
Breast implant surgery can have a significant impact on a person’s self-confidence and body image. By achieving the desired breast appearance, individuals may experience improved self-esteem and a greater sense of femininity or masculinity, depending on their gender identity.
Reconstruction after Mastectomy or Trauma
Breast implant surgery is also used for breast reconstruction purposes. It can help restore the breasts’ appearance and contour after breast removal due to mastectomy or trauma, providing a sense of wholeness and aiding in emotional healing.
Preparing for Breast Implant Surgery
Initial Consultation with a Plastic Surgeon
The initial consultation is an important step in the preparation process. During this appointment, you will have the opportunity to discuss your goals and expectations with the surgeon. Make sure to prepare yourself to provide details about what you hope to achieve through the surgery, whether it’s increasing breast size, improving shape, or correcting asymmetry. The surgeon will evaluate your current breast anatomy, take measurements, and provide insights into what is realistically achievable based on your unique circumstances.
Choosing the Right Implant Size, Shape, and Material
Selecting the appropriate implant size, shape, and material is crucial in achieving the desired outcome. Your surgeon will guide you through the options available, including silicone and saline implants, and help you choose the best fit for your body and aesthetic goals. Visual aids, such as sizers or 3D imaging technology, may be used to provide a better understanding of how different implant options may appear on your body.
Pre-operative Instructions and Preparations
Your surgeon will provide specific pre-operative instructions to follow in the days or weeks leading up to your surgery. These instructions may include dietary restrictions, medications to avoid, and guidelines for managing any pre-existing medical conditions. It is important to strictly adhere to these instructions to minimize the risk of complications and ensure the best possible surgical outcome.
Medical Evaluations and Tests
Before undergoing breast implant surgery, your surgeon may request certain medical evaluations and tests. These may include blood tests, mammograms, or other diagnostic procedures to assess your overall health and ensure that you are a suitable candidate for surgery. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it is essential to discuss them with your surgeon to determine if any additional precautions or evaluations are necessary.
Emotional and Psychological Preparation
Breast implant surgery can have both physical and emotional impacts. It is important to prepare yourself mentally for the procedure and to have realistic expectations about the outcomes. Some individuals may experience anxiety or concerns about body image. Seeking support from loved ones, joining support groups, or even consulting with a mental health professional can be helpful in addressing and managing these emotions.
Surgical Techniques and Options for Breast Implant Surgery
Incision Options for Breast Implant Surgery
This is the most common and widely used incision technique for breast implant surgery. It involves creating an incision along the inframammary fold, which is the natural crease where the breast meets the chest wall. The incision is typically well-hidden within the fold, making it discreet and minimizing visible scarring. It allows direct access to the breast pocket for precise implant placement and adjustments.
With this technique, the incision is made around the edge of the areola, the pigmented area surrounding the nipple. The incision is commonly made along the lower half of the areola, where the color transition is less noticeable. This approach offers a direct route for implant insertion and allows for precise control over implant placement. Additionally, the incision site can blend well with the natural color and texture of the areola, making it less conspicuous. However, it carries a slightly higher risk of interfering with nipple sensation and breastfeeding compared to other incision options.
In this technique, the incision is made in the natural crease of the armpit (axilla). The surgeon creates a tunnel from the incision site to the breast area, through which the implants are inserted and positioned. The major advantage of this approach is that the incision is located away from the breast itself, resulting in no visible scarring on the breast. However, it may be more challenging to achieve precise implant placement and adjustments compared to the inframammary or periareolar methods.
Transumbilical Incision (TUBA)
The TUBA technique involves making a small incision within the navel (umbilicus) and creating a tunnel to the breast area for implant placement. This approach offers the advantage of no visible scarring on the breasts, as the incision is located in the belly button. However, it is a less commonly used technique and may have limitations regarding implant size, type, and placement options. It also requires specialized training and equipment.
It’s important to discuss the different incision options with your plastic surgeon. They will consider factors such as your anatomy, desired implant size and type, and personal preferences to help determine the most suitable incision technique for your breast implant surgery. Each incision option has its advantages and considerations, and your surgeon can guide you in making an informed decision based on your specific needs and goals.
Placement Options for Breast Implants
Submuscular Placement (Under the Muscle)
In this placement option, the breast implants are positioned underneath the pectoralis major muscle, which is located between the breast tissue and the chest wall. The muscle provides additional coverage and support for the implants. Submuscular placement can result in a more natural-looking outcome, particularly for individuals with thin breast tissue or those seeking a subtle augmentation. It may also reduce the risk of visible rippling or implant palpability. However, the recovery period may be slightly longer, and there may be temporary muscle-related discomfort or tightness.
Subglandular Placement (Over the Muscle, Under the Gland)
With subglandular placement, the breast implants are positioned above the pectoralis major muscle and beneath the mammary gland. This placement option may be suitable for individuals with adequate breast tissue and good skin elasticity. It generally involves a shorter recovery period compared to submuscular placement. Subglandular placement may provide more upper pole fullness and potentially easier implant adjustments in the future. However, individuals with thin breast tissue may have a higher risk of visible implant edges or rippling.
Dual-plane placement combines aspects of both submuscular and subglandular placement techniques. In this approach, the upper portion of the breast implant is placed partially beneath the pectoralis major muscle (submuscular), while the lower portion is positioned beneath the mammary gland (subglandular). This technique allows for a more customized approach to address individual breast anatomy and achieve optimal results. It can provide improved upper pole fullness while still benefiting from the additional coverage and support of the muscle.
Types and Materials of Breast Implants
Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants are filled with a cohesive silicone gel that closely mimics the feel of natural breast tissue. They have a soft, pliable texture and are available in various shapes, including round and teardrop shapes.
Saline Breast Implants
Saline breast implants are filled with a sterile saline solution (salt water) after they are inserted. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. Saline implants tend to be firmer to the touch compared to silicone implants.
Structured Saline Breast Implants
Structured saline breast implants are similar to traditional saline implants but have an internal structure or chambers that help to provide a more natural feel and reduce the risk of rippling. The internal structure is designed to control the movement of the saline solution, enhancing the shape and contour of the breasts.
Gummy Bear (Form-Stable) Implants
Gummy bear implants, also referred to as form-stable implants, are silicone implants that have a highly cohesive gel filling. The gel is thicker and more stable, allowing the implant to maintain its shape even if the outer shell is compromised. These implants are known for retaining their shape and providing a natural-looking result. Gummy bear implants are often teardrop-shaped, with a tapered slope and increased fullness at the bottom.
Round vs. Anatomical (Teardrop) Implants
Breast implants come in both round and anatomical (teardrop) shapes. Round implants are symmetrical and provide fullness to both the upper and lower portions of the breast, resulting in a rounder appearance. Anatomical implants are designed to mimic the natural shape of the breast, with more projection at the bottom and a tapered slope toward the top. The choice between round and anatomical implants depends on factors such as the desired outcome, existing breast anatomy, and the recommendations of your surgeon.
It is important to note that the specific types and materials of breast implants available may vary depending on regulations in different countries. Your plastic surgeon will discuss the various options available to you and provide recommendations based on your individual goals, body type, and preferences. They will help you choose the most suitable implant type and material to achieve the desired outcome while considering factors such as safety, longevity, and aesthetic results.
Additional Procedures Combined with Breast Implant Surgery
Breast implant surgery can be combined with other procedures to enhance the overall aesthetic outcome or address specific concerns. Here are some additional procedures that are commonly performed in conjunction with breast implant surgery:
Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
A breast lift is often combined with breast implant surgery to address sagging or drooping breasts. This procedure helps to reposition the breasts to a more youthful and lifted position. During a breast lift, excess skin is removed, the breast tissue is reshaped, and the nipple-areola complex is repositioned. Combining a breast lift with breast implants can provide a fuller and more lifted appearance.
Some individuals with large breasts may opt for breast reduction surgery in combination with breast implant placement. Breast reduction involves removing excess breast tissue and reshaping the breasts to reduce their size and improve proportion. By combining breast reduction with implants, it is possible to achieve a smaller breast size while also enhancing shape and volume.
Breast Revision Surgery
Breast revision surgery may be performed in cases where a previous breast augmentation procedure requires correction or revision. This may be due to issues such as implant rupture, capsular contracture (scar tissue formation around the implant), implant malposition, or changes in aesthetic preferences. Breast revision surgery may involve removing and replacing implants, adjusting implant position, or addressing other concerns to achieve the desired outcome.
Liposuction is a body contouring procedure that can be combined with breast implant surgery to improve overall body proportions. It is commonly performed in areas such as the abdomen, flanks (love handles), or thighs to remove excess fat deposits and create a more balanced figure. Combining liposuction with breast augmentation can create a more harmonious and proportionate overall result.
Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
For individuals seeking both breast enhancement and abdominal rejuvenation, a tummy tuck can be combined with breast implant surgery. A tummy tuck removes excess abdominal skin and tightens the underlying muscles, resulting in a flatter and more toned abdomen. This combined procedure is often chosen by women who have experienced pregnancy or significant weight loss and desire improvement in both the breasts and abdomen.
The Breast Implant Surgery Process
On the day of the surgery, you will be given anesthesia to ensure your comfort during the procedure. The specific anesthesia method (general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation) will be discussed and determined during the consultation. The surgeon will then make the chosen incision (inframammary, periareolar, transaxillary, or transumbilical) and create a breast pocket for the implant. The implant will be carefully inserted into the pocket, and the surgeon will assess the position, symmetry, and overall appearance before closing the incisions with sutures.
After the surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery area until the effects of anesthesia wear off. You may experience temporary discomfort, swelling, and bruising in the breast area. Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed to manage pain and minimize the risk of infection. You will be instructed on post-operative care, including wearing a supportive bra, keeping the incision sites clean and dry, and avoiding strenuous activities and heavy lifting during the initial recovery period. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor your healing progress.
Breast implant surgery requires long-term follow-up to ensure the ongoing health and integrity of the implants. Routine check-ups with your plastic surgeon will be scheduled to monitor the condition of the implants, assess breast health, and address any concerns or complications that may arise. It is essential to attend these follow-up appointments and follow your surgeon’s instructions for optimal results and long-term satisfaction.
The surgery typically takes around 1 to 2 hours, but the duration can vary depending on individual circumstances and the complexity of the procedure.
Recovery time varies, but most individuals can resume normal activities within a few weeks. Strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for several weeks.
Breast implants have been extensively studied and are considered safe. However, like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications. It’s important to discuss these with your surgeon during the consultation.
Modern breast implants are designed to look and feel natural. The choice of implant type, size, and placement will influence the final result. Your surgeon will work with you to achieve the desired outcome.
Breast implants may make mammogram readings more challenging. Additional imaging techniques, such as ultrasound or MRI, may be recommended to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of breast health.
A6: Breast implants do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer. However, they can make it more difficult to detect breast cancer during screening. It’s important to continue regular breast self-examinations and mammograms as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Yes, breast implants can rupture, although it is relatively rare. Ruptures can occur due to factors such as implant age, trauma, or normal wear and tear. Regular monitoring and follow-up with your surgeon are important to detect any potential issues.
Yes, breast implants can be removed if desired. This procedure is known as implant removal or explantation. The breasts may require additional procedures, such as a breast lift, to restore their shape and appearance.