Breast augmentation - what it is and surgery explained
Breast augmentation is a popular cosmetic surgical procedure that alters the size and shape of your breasts and is often referred to as a breast enlargement, breast enhancement, or a boob job.
There are a number of reasons people decide to get the surgery – from lost volume or to feel more balanced.
Before you go ahead, it’s important you have all the facts to make an informed decision.
In this article:
Duration of results
10 to 20 years
Back to work
Full recovery time
6 to 8 weeks
23,000 SAR to 30,000 SAR
Local or general anaesthetic
What is breast augmentation surgery?
In breast augmentation surgery implants are used to increase the size and shape of your breasts. There are a wide range of implant options, and your doctor will help you make the right choice.
Considerations about breast enlargement surgery:
- The two main types of implants are silicone and saline. Silicone implants tend to feel and look more natural than implants filled with saline.
- You can pick a round or teardrop shape for the implant. Round offers more outward projection and overall fullness, while the teardrop style is fuller at the bottom to look more natural.
- Implants are measured in cubic centilitres (cc), with sizes ranging from 200cc to 800cc. When choosing, consider the width of your natural breasts, as well as the shape and size of your rib cage.
- Are you a very active person or have a physically demanding job? Consider your lifestyle when deciding on the size.
How does breast augmentation surgery work?
Before you commit to breast enlargement, it’s important to understand how the surgery works.
The lead up
Prior to surgery, you’ll have a consultation with your surgeon to discuss expectations and any concerns. This way, you can make final decisions about:
- The type of implants.
- Their size and shape.
- Where they will be inserted.
- The type of anaesthetic used.
Your doctor might also change some of your current medications and suggest you have a baseline mammogram, to check everything is as it should be.
When you arrive
Your surgeon may start by drawing guidelines for any incisions or implant placement. This is so they can follow where they need to make incisions during surgery.
Ready for the anaesthetic
Depending on what has been agreed, you’ll either be placed under a local or general anaesthetic. General anaesthetic puts you to sleep for the entire surgery and is most common, while a local numbs only the breast area.
Making the incision
Once you’re under, the surgeon will make an initial incision either below the breast, next to the breast or around the nipple. This usually depends on the:
- Type of implant being used.
- Size of the enlargement.
- Your own anatomy.
Inserting the implants
Your surgeon will have also discussed where you would like the implants to be placed. If there isn’t enough skin to cover the implant, it may be best to insert it behind the chest muscle. On the other hand, placing the implant behind your breast gives the most natural result.
Stitching up the incision
With the implants inserted, the surgeon can now stitch up the initial incisions and begin dressing them. You’ll then be moved to a recovery room and can usually go home after a few hours.
Breast enlargement recovery time and results
Once you’ve had the surgery, it’s time to rest. The surgeon will have wrapped your breasts with a specially designed bra or elastic bandage, to support your recovery at home.
What is the recovery time after breast enhancement?
Recovery times vary but it usually takes around six to eight weeks.
- Week one: Take it easy with time off work and driving. You may need prescribed medication to help with initial discomfort but can continue with over-the-counter pain relief.
- Next few weeks: Things might still feel sore and swollen, but you can start to do some light daily activities. Any non-dissolvable stitches are removed.
- After six weeks: Scars should be starting to fade, and you might be back to your normal routine, but return at your own pace.
- After two months: You should almost be fully recovered and may be allowed to change out of your post-surgery bra.
Does breast enlargement cause scarring?
Most breast enlargement surgeries leave some degree of scarring, but these tend to fade over a few months. To aid healing wear your post-op bra day and night following surgery. Then, once wounds have gradually healed over, you can gently massage the area to reduce the scar tissue.
The biggest influence on scarring is the skill of your surgeon. Make sure you always use an experienced clinician who is familiar with the risks and can talk you through the recovery process.
Is breast enlargement permanent?
No. The FDA reported that 20 per cent of women with silicone implants had to get them repaired or replaced within the first 10 years.
Breast augmentation is not a one-time thing. When implants are inserted, they require regular upkeep. On average, you can expect your implants to last between 10 and 20 years, before they need to be replaced.
Remember that breast enhancement doesn’t make you immune to events that can change the size and shape of your breasts. This includes:
- Weight loss.
If this becomes a concern, you may want to book a further augmentation and replace the implants.
Who is most suitable for breast augmentation?
Anyone who is mentally and physically healthy can have a breast augmentation. However, some leading authorities recommend that you only get implants if you’re over the age of 22.
Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have breast cancer, or an abnormal mammogram, would be considered less suitable for the surgery.
What are the risks of breast enlargement surgery?
These can include:
- Hardening of the breast – known as capsular contracture.
- Breast pain – 6 per cent of silicone-implant patients and 16 per cent of saline-implant patients experienced breast pain after surgery.
Infection – a side effect of any surgery, treated with antibiotics.
Creases or rippling on the implant.
Change of breast or nipple sensation – usually due to temporary nerve issues, but in some cases it can be permanent.
Implant movement – that can affect the overall appearance of the breast.
Implant leakage or rupture.
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell (BIA-ALCL) – a type of immune system cell cancer that has been linked to a small number of implant patients.
In many of these cases, additional surgery is required either to replace or remove the implant.
Alternatives to breast augmentation
There are some alternatives you can try, such as wearing push-up bras or inserts to give the illusion of larger breasts. Certain pectoral exercises grow chest muscles and improve posture but won’t increase the actual breast volume.
If you’re happy with the size but would like your breasts to sit higher up, a breast lift might be a good alternative. Ask your surgeon about getting a lift and enlargement – they may be able to do both procedures at the same time.
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