Breast augmentation has become the most popular cosmetic procedure among women looking to enhance the shape and size of their breasts. Research suggests that approximately 300,000 breast augmentation surgeries are performed each year.
A woman may consider a breast augmentation procedure for various reasons. Generally, women with smaller breasts have a desire to enhance the volume and overall contour of the breast area. Their breasts might have become smaller due to various reasons such as hormonal imbalances, weight loss, pregnancy and/or breastfeeding and natural aging. In some cases, genes are responsible for the natural small size of the breasts.
The breast enhancement surgery helps in making the chest look more proportionate to the remaining body and lends a more natural appearance to a woman’s physique.
In most cases, a woman is not required to go over two sizes up in a breast augmentation procedure. When there is over-enlargement of breasts, it could lead to a very unnatural appearance and also increase the chances of breast sagging and scarring.
While there is a steady increase in the number of breast augmentation surgeries each year, the surgical technique and tools are also becoming more advanced and varied. This means that patients have several options to choose from. Here are some of the key things that you need to consider when considering a breast augmentation surgery:
- Saline vs. silicone implants
You might have read about the recent exciting developments in the area of breast implants. Breast implants are designed for inserting into the artificially created skin pockets during the augmentation surgery and help enhance the size, texture and overall profile of the breasts.
The two main types of breast implants are saline breast implants and silicone breast implants. Both these implant varieties have undergone sufficient testing for efficacy and safety.
Numerous patients are reported to prefer silicone implants over the saline ones for certain reasons. As the name suggests, silicone implants contain silicone gel and are typically placed beneath your chest muscle for breast enhancement. These FDA approved implants were reintroduced in the America in 2006 and are believed to offer a softer and more natural feel and look as compared to other implants. The risk of deflation and rippling is also minimal in silicone gel implants.
For women who want a less expensive alternative and smaller incision, saline breast implants offer a great solution for breast enlargement. Saline breast implants work in the same way as silicone implants but contain a sterile saline solution (pre-filled solution). Both implant varieties are available in a range of different sizes and your cosmetic surgeon can help you choose the right one depending on your specific needs and aesthetic goals.
Currently, candidates in the age group of 18 to 22 years can only choose saline implants as the FDA-approved option for breast enhancement.
The patient would have to make the ultimate decision regarding which implant she would like for her breast augmentation surgery.
The shape, size, and placement of the implant could vary depending on the individual needs and desires of the patient. According to cosmetologists, the breast implants should ideally match the size of your breast’s diameter so that they can be hidden well by the current breast tissue.
Complications and considerations
It is important to remember a few things related to the implants that you finally choose for your breast augmentation procedure. Women who get silicone gel breast implants would be required to undergo MRI examinations periodically. This is critical for detecting implant ruptures that fail to cause any symptoms (also termed as ‘silent ruptures’).
Manufacturers of breast implants, along with the FDA, recommend that a woman must undergo an MRI screening three years after receiving a new silicone gel breast implant. The screenings need to be done regularly in a gap of 2 years following the first exam.
Some of the common complications and/or extreme outcomes associated with breast implants are deflation, rupture, reoperation, capsular contracture and implant removal. Your doctor will also talk about other possible risks like scarring, asymmetry, infection, wrinkling, and pain at the surgical site during the initial consultation.
A breast augmentation surgery requires the creation of artificial skin pockets in the targeted area for the placement of the breast implants. A surgeon needs to take a decision with regards to the incision site for each patient, depending on their specific physiology or circumstances. There are basically three different incision sites that surgeons can choose from:
This type of incision is made beneath the breast crease and serves as the most immediate pathway to the internal breast tissue. With the inframammary incision, it is easier to hide surgery scars. Further, this particular route allows for the correction of most asymmetries and any future surgeries (e.g. replacement or removal of implants) can be executed using the same incision.
This type of incision is made in the area surrounding the nipple and helps conceal the scar in the texture/color change between the breast and the areola. In the periareolar incision, there is an increased risk of infection and loss of sensation in the nipple. This incision may be necessary for a breast augmentation surgery that is combined with a breast lift.
This type of incision is created in the patient’s armpit and helps in concealing scars more efficiently (not made in the visible breast area). A transaxillary incision has the effect of making the surgery slightly complicated because the incision isn’t close to the breast. The revision rate for surgery is also higher in case of a transaxilliary incision. Again, the risk of loss of feeling in the nipples is higher and it may be accompanied by numbness in the inner arm.
- Placement of implant
The decision regarding the type of implant isn’t the only decision that a patient needs to make for the breast augmentation surgery. Another critical decision is the choice of placement of the implants.
There are primarily two locations in which your implant could be placed. These are:
- Beneath your chest muscle
- Beneath your breast tissue
Majority of the cosmetic surgeons recommend placing the breast implants underneath the patient’s chest muscle due to various reasons. First, it lends a very natural feeling to your breast contour. Also, when an implant is inserted in this particular way, there are reduced chances of the implant becoming stiff or hard. It is important for women to understand that a breast augmentation procedure usually lasts for about 10 to 15 years. Artificial implants need replacement or removal after the stated time has passed.
- Shape and size of implant
You might be surprised to know that there are different shapes of implants that you can choose from. The two most popular implant shapes are ‘teardrop’ and ‘round’. Round-shaped breast implants are the most commonly used implants because they offer enough cleavage and optimal lift. The teardrop shape may be preferred by some women because it can offer a softer and more natural appearance to your breast contour.
While round breast implants can be picked in both the textured or smooth variety, teardrop implants are usually preferred in the textured form.
There are so many different questions to answer when it comes to choosing the ‘size’ of the implants. The choice ultimately depends on whether the patient wants a subtle change or a dramatic transformation in their bust size. The decision regarding the size of the implant is dependent on a number of factors such as the volume of natural breast tissue which the patient already has. The size and shape of your body are other factors that help in determining the most suitable implant size for your breast augmentation procedure.
- Prepare well for the surgery
There are a set of precautions that you need to take in preparation for your breast augmentation surgery. These include the following:
- Avoid/reduce contact with family members or friends with an illness (even flu or cold)
- If you are a smoker, you need to significantly minimize your nicotine consumption or quit smoking (if possible) before the procedure
- Inform your surgeon about all medications and drugs, supplements and vitamins and minerals that you have been taking in the previous few weeks. It is important for a patient to undergo complete detoxification from any extra supplements or medication for a minimum of 30 days before the procedure.
- Stop the intake of any over-the-counter pain medication such as aspirin. These can cause blood thinning and complicate the surgery.
It is a surgeon’s right to cancel the breast augmentation surgery at any time if he/she isn’t convinced about your health status vis-à-vis the surgery.
During the initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will take necessary measurements in order to determine the size of the implant which is most suitable for your anatomy. They might also help you visualize the final results of the surgery with the help of advanced imaging technology