Breast Augmentation, or augmentation mammaplasty, is the surgical procedure performed to increase the size and shape of a woman's breast(s).
It may be performed for a number of reasons; cosmetic improvement for self-confidence, or a correction of breast asymmetry or as reconstruction following a mastectomy.
If you are considering a breast augmentation, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure - when it can help, how it is performed and the results you can expect.
Who is suitable for breast augmentation?
Any woman who wants larger breasts may be suitable for this operation, but it is highly unlikely to be performed on women whose breasts have not yet fully developed. If you are unhappy with very small breasts, increasing their size can improve self-confidence and self-esteem.
Breast Firming and Re-Shaping
With ageing, pregnancy, breast-feeding and gravity the skin can stretch and breasts may droop. In these circumstances, a certain amount of lifting and filling can improve the shape of the breasts considerably. Sometimes the surgery may be accompanied by a tightening of the skin to further lift the breasts (a procedure known as mastopexy).
Most women have some degree of breast asymmetry. The left breast is often shorter and squatter than the right, simply because the left chest is broader to accommodate the heart. However, where there is pronounced asymmetry, or a particular condition such as Poland's Syndrome or tuberous breasts, breast augmentation can be used to correct the imbalance.
Although a mastectomy is often the only realistic option in cases of breast cancer, the outward appearance and psychological effects of the operation can be reduced through breast reconstruction. Some women choose a reconstruction at the time of the original mastectomy and sometimes it is done later. In either case, the shock of mastectomy can be eased by the cosmetic reconstruction of the breast.
What to expect at the initial consultation?
At the initial consultation your breasts will be examined and measured and your surgeon will discuss all aspects of the operation with you. At this stage, your surgeon will assess whether breast augmentation is suitable for you and whether the operation will meet your specific needs.
When it comes to a preferred size for your new breasts, this will be discussed in detail with you. Surgeons define implant size in millilitres (ml) and a typical implant may vary between 200ml and 350ml; implants do not operate in 'cup size' as bra manufacturer's definitions of size vary considerably. As a guide to the preferred size of breast implant, try filling a freezer bag with warm water and measuring accordingly.
It is important that you mention to your surgeon any previous breast problems that you may have had. Such problems would include breast lumps, nipple discharge, breast pain, breast cancer or any other surgery you may have had on the breasts. You should also inform your surgeon if you have any family history of breast cancer, particularly in your mother or sisters. If you are on any long-term medication, if you have any allergies, if you have a tendency to bleed or bruise easily, if you have had any previous surgery, if you had any problems with local or general anaesthesia and if you have any medical ailments, tell you surgeon.
Where does the treatment take place?
Your operation will take place at New Victoria Hospital. You can usually expect to spend 1 night in hospital recovering from the operation before going home.
What can go wrong?
In general, breast augmentation is associated with a high-degree of patient satisfaction and the vast majority of women are very pleased with their results. Nevertheless, no surgery is without risk and your surgeon will explain the risks and possible side-effects of treatment with you at your consultation.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery can take up to 3 weeks and you are not advised to return to work during the recovery period.
How satisfied can you expect to be with the procedure?
Because this is a common plastic surgery procedure, the results are quite predictable. After the operation, many women report feeling exhilarated by their new, fuller appearance, with a resultant increase in self-confidence.
A breast augmentation always leaves a scar (the implant has to be placed through an incision) although the scar usually becomes inconspicuous with time, and is frequently hidden beneath the breasts (only visible when the breasts are lifted).
Your surgeon can discuss the exact nature of your treatment, including procedure details, recovery times and any possible side-effects at a consultation. This will reflect your exact circumstances and needs. The information included here is provided for general guidance only.