In a world where surgical procedures become easier to do and reliable plastic surgery centers can be found in all major cities, breast augmentation has emerged as an accessible solution for women who want to boost their self esteem and get the body they’ve always wanted. Whether it’s done for aesthetic purposes, to achieve the coveted hourglass-shaped figure, or to restore breast firmness after pregnancy or aging, the surgery is now safer than it ever was before. Implants come in different types, depending on the result the patient wants and the doctor can make several incision types for different scarring placements. However, like any surgical procedure, breast augmentation requires some thought in advance and it shouldn’t be done in the absence of patient education. The more the patient knows about this process and the various options available, the happier they’ll be with the result and won’t have to pay for costly changes later.
Types of implants available for breast augmentation
Some women want the results of breast augmentation to be very dramatic and noticeable, while others are looking for a more subtle, natural look. For both these preferences, there are options:
- Saline breast implants – these are empty silicone elastomer shells that the surgeon will fill with salt water solution during the surgery to reach the size you want. This salt water solution is very safe, because it resembles the one that’s already found naturally in the body, so it can’t be rejected. If for whatever reason the implant fails, the solution is absorbed in the body. Saline breast implants are more cost-effective and often require a small incision, with the option of making the incision in the armpit to avoid breast scarring.
- Silicone breast implants – they are currently the most popular option among women who want to enlarge their breasts. These are also silicone elastomer shells, but, unlike saline implants, which are sent empty and filled by the surgeon, they are delivered pre-filled with silicone gel. Silicone implants are available in many sizes and patients can choose from several shapes as well, such as more round or natural-looking. Thanks to the silicone, the breasts appear fuller and smoother. If a silicone implant fails, the silicone isn’t absorbed, so the breast will not go flat, like in the case of saline implants.
Breast implants can be smooth or textured. Smooth implants replicate the texture of natural breasts very well and feel very soft, but because of this there may also be ripping under the skin. Textured implants are less soft, but there is less movement under the skin.
Apart from these main types of implants, each clinic can offer additional types, depending on what manufacturers they work with and local availability. No matter their choice, patients should remember that each body reacts differently to implants, which is why it’s important to go to follow-up visits so the surgeon can monitor the progress.
Scarring is a normal part of the breast augmentation procedure and it’s necessary so that the surgeon can insert the implant. The incision can be made in three places:
- Above the breast crease (Inframammary) incision can be made for all implant types and, because it’s right underneath the breast, it can be easily concealed. The size of the scar can be quite big in the case of larger implants, but one major benefit is that it doesn’t affect future breastfeeding.
- Armpit (Transaxillary) incision is typically used for saline implants. The scar is located in the armpit, so there will be no noticeable signs on the breasts whatsoever.
- Periareolar incision involves a dissection through the middle of the breast tissue and is located around the areola. This approach is chosen when a breast augmentation procedure is combined with a breast lift, for example after pregnancy. Periareolar incisions are not recommended for women who want to have children in the future, because they could interfere with breastfeeding. Besides, they cannot be made on women with small areolas.
The location of the implant in the breast tissue is chosen with the surgeon, depending on the size of the patient’s breast and on how much tissue is already available.
- Subglandular implants are situated on top of the breast muscle and are chosen when the patient has a minimum of 2cm of breast muscle thickness. The main benefit of this implant placement is that it camouflages the implant very well.
- Subpectoral implants are situated under the breast muscle and are recommended for women who do not have enough breast tissue available for subglandular implants. If breast sagginess is present, this type of placement is not possible without a breast lift as well.
Surgeons can combine the two placement types for a natural-looking result. This is called a dual-plane position and involves placing one part of the breast implant on top of the breast muscle and the other part underneath the breast muscle.
Recovery & downtime
In general, breast augmentation procedures are tolerated very well and most women experience do not experience complications. Depending on the chosen implant and implant placement, the recovery time may vary as follows:
- Women who choose subpectoral implants feel very little pain and can usually go back to work within three days after the surgery. Subglandular implants, however, cause more soreness and a one-week break from work is recommended.
- Swelling is normal after the surgery. Your breasts will be about a size bigger than you wanted in the first week after the surgery, but the swelling goes down gradually and the breasts reach their final size one month later.
- Scar healing varies from patient to patient, depending on their body and on the size of the incision. In general, a nicely sutured scar stays red for about three months and fades nicely after six months. Healing can be sped up with special creams and massage techniques.
- After breast augmentation surgery, patients should refrain from doing any kind of heavy lifting or exercise in the first two weeks to avoid pain and swelling. After 6 weeks, all forms of exercise are usually permitted.