Augmentation mammaplasty is the technical name for surgery to make the breasts larger by implanting a silicone rubber shell filled with a saline (salt-water) or silicone gel solution.
As with other forms of cosmetic plastic surgery, you need to have a clear idea of why you want the surgery and a realistic idea of what you hope to look like after it. And you need to discuss these honestly with your surgeon. Improving your appearance can't solve all of the difficulties that you might face in life, but it may increase your self-confidence as you deal with them.
During your first consultation, your doctor will ask you about:
- Your general health
- Any specific conditions that might interfere with surgery
- Your goals for the surgery
The doctor will also:
- Perform an exam
- Explain the details of the surgery
- Discuss what factors might affect the procedure
- explain the type of surgical technique to be used
- Discuss type of anesthesia to be used and length of hospital stay, if any.
- You may be asked to have a mammogram (breast x-ray) before surgery
IMPORTANT: You must stop smoking for several weeks before and after the surgery, because smoking can interfere with healing.
What to Expect
Breast augmentation surgery normally takes about two hours. It can be done as an outpatient procedure, or you may stay in the hospital for a day or two. Depending on the surgical plan, you'll be given local or general anesthesia.
- Local anesthesia means you'll be sedated and the area around the surgery will be numbed. You're awake during the surgery, but relaxed and feeling no pain.
- General anesthesia means you'll be asleep during the operation.
How the Procedure is Performed
There are several techniques for breast augmentation. Usually, the surgeon begins by making a small incision either under the breast above the crease, around the areola, or in the armpit. Then, the surgeon makes a "pocket" by lifting your breast tissue and skin. The pocket is either underneath your chest wall muscle (the pectoral muscle) or directly behind your breast tissue. View a diagram of the incisions used for a breast augmentation.
The implant is placed within this pocket, then may put a small, thin drainage tube may be put temporarily under the skin to drain blood and fluids that collect there. Finally, the surgeon closes the incisions with small stitches and puts a bandage on the area to protect it. View a diagram of the placement of the breast implant.
All surgery involves some risk and uncertainty. Serious complications or side effects of this surgery are rare, but they include:
- Post-surgical bleeding
- Changes in the sensitivity of the nipples (they can become oversensitive, undersensitive or even numb)
- Capsular contracture
Capsular contracture means the capsule or scar around the implant tightens, squeezes the implant and makes it feel hard. This condition can be corrected in several ways, including removing the scar tissue or removing or replacing the implant.
Risks Associated with Breast Implants
Another possible condition is the breast implant breaking or leaking. If you have an implant filled with saline (salt-water) solution that breaks or leaks, your body will absorb the solution with no harm. Very rarely, women with breast implants have symptoms such as joint pain or swelling, fever, fatigue, breast pain and others associated with diseases of the immune system.
The FDA has requested further study of silicone breast implants to determine if there's any connection between them and a number of conditions.
There's no evidence that breast implants affect fertility, pregnancy, or the ability to breast feed. Nor is there any evidence that breast implants cause breast cancer. But if you have implants, you may need to change the way you have a mammography. Make sure whoever does your mammography is experienced with implants and knows you have them.
Immediately After Surgery
After the surgery, your breasts will probably be covered gauze bandages to protect you from infection. They'll be removed, along with the drainage tubes, within a few days and you may be asked to wear a surgical support bra for a few weeks.
After a Few Weeks
Your breasts will be swollen and bruised for a few weeks after surgery and you may have a burning feeling in your nipples for some or all of the that time. Your stitches will be removed within a week to ten days. You should be able to return to non-physical work within a week or so. Your breasts will be sensitive to direct contact for several weeks.
This surgery does leave permanent scars, and they may even appear to worsen after a few months. But they will fade in time and are easily hidden by clothing.
Healing is Slow - But Results are Great
Many people feel depressed for a while after plastic surgery, especially in the early days when your breasts are swollen and bruised. This is normal and will pass. Healing is slow and gradual and sometimes the final results of the surgery aren't apparent for many months or more. But remember why you chose to have the surgery. If you've met your goals, then your surgery is a success.
For more information on breast augmentation, please call (585) 275-1000, or request a consultation appointment online.
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