Breast enlargement surgery (or breast augmentation) is a popular and effective procedure that can enlarge or alter the shape of a woman's breasts using silicone or saline implants. This procedure can be undertaken in conjunction with a breast uplift surgery (mastopexy) which corrects drooping breasts. There are many different kinds of implants available and a range of techniques with which they can be used to improve the shape of the breasts.
Why Choose Breast Enlargement?
There are few issues more personal to a woman than the shape and size of her breasts. Many women feel that their breasts are too small, either naturally, or following pregnancy or weight loss. Other women are concerned that their breasts are not symmetrical or not as firm as they once were. These issues can have a real effect on self confidence and self esteem, and many women feel a loss of femininity. Breast enlargement is a way of regaining confidence and achieving a new and more satisfying body shape, but the decision must not be taken lightly, and must always be done for the right reasons.
Is Breast Enlargement Surgery Right for me?
If you are considering breast enlargement or implants then it's imperative to book a consultation with an accredited and experienced cosmetic surgeon. At the consultation the surgeon will assess your personal needs, discuss the surgical options available to you, help you form realistic goals, and inform you of the potential side effects of breast implants. He or she may also check that you are undertaking the surgery for personal reasons, and not to please or satisfying another party.
The options that will be discussed are: whether to have saline or silicone implants; round or teardrop shaped (anatomical) implants; the implant's size, and whether it will be placed behind the breast tissue or the chest wall muscle (pectoral). The surgeon will explain the benefits and risks of each choice, and how it relates to your body shape: for instance, very slim women are commonly advised to have anatomical implants in order to create a more natural contour. Round implants, in very lean women, can sometimes show an upper edge which creates a stuck-on appearance. The surgeon may recommend you try various bras with different size fillers to get an idea of what each size implant would eventually look like on your body.
You should only choose to have surgery if you are entirely comfortable with the procedure, happy with the breast implant cost, and 100% confident with your surgeon.
What Happens During Surgery?
Breast augmentation surgery takes place under general anaesthetic and normally takes between one and two hours. The surgeon will either make an incision under the breast, around the nipple or by the arm pit. The size of the incision depends on where the implant is being placed. Once the implant has been successfully placed, the incision is closed with stitches. The breasts are then wrapped in a dressing or support bra, and fine plastic tubes are sometimes left in the breasts for a few days to allow sufficient drainage of blood and fluids.
What can I Expect After Surgery?
You may feel discomfort and hardness in the breasts following your operation, including some swelling and bruising. These symptoms can be managed with painkillers, but may last a few weeks. Stitches will be removed after one or two weeks. Scars should fade continuously for the next twelve months.
There are complications that are specific to breast enlargement. UK cosmetic procedures are generally carried out safely and effectively, but there are inherent risks and limitations with all surgery, and it's important to be fully aware of the possible risks and side effects you may encounter before you go ahead.
- Capsular contracture. This one of the more commonly occurring complications caused by the formation of fibrous scar tissue around your implant. Depending on the severity, or grade, of the contracture you may require surgery to either release the capsule or to reposition the implant.
- Haematoma and Seroma. Haematoma is a pool of blood that has collected within a bodily cavity. Seroma is tissue fluid that has collected around the site of the operation. These can sometimes make capsular contracture or infection more likely and often require drainage, potentially surgical.
- Implant displacement. Rarely, implants can move or displace after surgery. Sometimes it is unnoticeable, but large displacements need to be repositioned surgically.
- Infection. This is very rare, less than 1% of cases result in infection, but if infection does occur it necessitates removal of the implants and reinsertion at a later date.
- Necrosis. Necrosis is dead tissue that can occur at the operative site and impair the healing process, which could require corrective surgery. Sometimes skin necrosis can lead to permanent undesirable scarring.
- Galactorrhoea. This is the production of breast milk, which is very rare, but can occur after surgery. The production usually ceases spontaneously, but in certain rare instances requires removal of the implants.
- Mammography. Breast implants can sometimes affect mammography readings as they obscure some of breast tissue. This is most commonly associated with implants placed under the breast tissue as opposed to those placed beneath the pectoral. Implants do not interfere with ultrasound examination, self examination or MRI breast scanning. There is no evidence linking breast implants with cancer, but if you have a history of breast cancer, it's advisable to avoid implants because of the possible impairment of the mammography process.
- Nerve damage. Numbness or loss of sensation around the nipples and incision sites may occur temporarily and sometimes permanently. This is more likely with implants above the chest wall muscle and where incisions were made around the areola.
- Implant rupture/leak. Silicone implants may leak due to age, injury, or capsular contracture. Often women notice breast reduction, lumpiness, asymmetry, and pain or tingling. Implant rupture often requires removal by surgery.