Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. It can give women with small or unevenly sized breasts a fuller, firmer, better-proportioned look. Women choose to undergo breast augmentation for a variety of reasons. Some women have small breasts that never quite developed and enhancement with breast implants can improve self-esteem and quality of life. Other women choose breast augmentation to regain breast fullness that was lost after pregnancy and breast-feeding or after weight loss. In patients with sagging breast tissue, augmentation may be combined with a breast lift to provide the most optimal result. Some women are born with congenital breast defects where one breast is much smaller than the other or fails to develop at all. Breast augmentation can provide better symmetry in these patients so that the breasts match in size.
Dr. Min takes the time during every consultation to learn what her patients want to achieve from a breast augmentation procedure. By listening to what patients have to say and closely examining them rather than performing a one-size-fits-all procedure, she provides a completely customized treatment. She has extensive experience with breast surgery and takes pride in natural looking, beautiful results.
Silicone vs. Saline Implants
Breast implants are silicone shells filled with either saline (salt water) or silicone gel. Both types of implants are safe and FDA approved. There was some controversy regarding silicone implants in the past, but extensive studies have proven them to be safe. Silicone gel implants are softer and more natural looking and feeling than saline implants. They require a slightly larger incision for placement than saline implants because they come pre-filled with the gel. Saline implants are filled with salt water after they are placed into the breast pocket and can thus be rolled into a smaller size for insertion. Silicone implants are also costlier than saline implants. Dr. Min will discuss which option may be best for you during your consultation.
Implant Sizes and Profiles
Breast implants are available in many different sizes and profiles (low, moderate or high profile). The profile of the implant refers to how tall the implant is, with the higher profile implants having more projection from your chest. The different types of implants are available for viewing in Dr. Min’s office. Generally, the moderate or high profile implants are most commonly used. Which one is selected depends on a number of factors, including the patient’s chest width, the amount of augmentation desired, and the appearance of the breasts.
The implants are placed through incisions that are made in inconspicuous places on the breast to minimize scar visibility. Dr. Min prefers to use an incision either around the areola border (the pigmented skin around the nipple) or in the crease on the underside of the breast. Both of these incisions usually heal very nicely. They also allow Dr. Min to have a clear view of the pocket that is made for the implant. This is very important, as the creation of an exact pocket is necessary for the most optimal result. If the pocket is not created perfectly, the implants will not sit correctly.
Under vs. Over the Muscle
The implants are usually placed underneath the chest wall muscle, which offers a few advantages over placement beneath the breast tissue only. These include more natural looking breasts with improved tissue coverage over the upper part of the implants, reduced risk of capsular contracture (post-operative tightening around the implant) and less interference with mammograms. When the implants are placed under the breast tissue only, the outline of the upper part of the implant may be visible, especially in a thin patient.
Recovery From Breast Augmentation Surgery
The procedure lasts 1 ½ to 2 hours and is typically performed under general anesthesia. After surgery, the bust-line may be increased by one or more cup sizes, depending on patient preference. Most patients feel tired and sore after surgery, but this usually improves quickly and many patients return to work within a week. Post-operative pain, swelling and sensitivity will diminish over the first few weeks. Scars will begin to fade in a few months and will continue to fade over the year. Initially, the implants may appear to be sitting too high. As the breast tissue and muscle stretch to accommodate them, the implants will drop down and look more natural over the course of several weeks. You should avoid any strenuous activity or exercise for 4 weeks.
Complications Following Breast Augmentation Surgery
Complications following surgery are uncommon and usually minimal. They may include capsular contracture (hardening of the implant), bleeding, swelling and pain, infection, a change in nipple or breast sensation, milk production if you nursed a baby within a year before the procedure, dissatisfaction with results, need for additional surgery, delayed healing and leakage of the implant as a result of injury or the normal compression and movement of your breast.
Breast Implant FAQ’s
Will I be able to breastfeed after breast augmentation?
Implants may affect your ability to successfully breastfeed. Not all women are able to breastfeed, even without surgery. Many women have been able to successfully breastfeed with breast implants but the success rate is likely to be slightly lower.
Will I lose nipple sensation?
A change in nipple sensation is always a possibility after any breast surgery, although the risk of permanent change is low.
Are breast implants permanent?
Breast implants are not considered lifetime devices. Removal and replacement of your implants will eventually be required. Timing is different for each patient as some may require earlier intervention and others go much longer before exchanging their implants.
Can I have the implants removed later on?
The implants can be removed but keep in mind that the breast tissue and skin have been stretched by the presence of the implant. After implant removal, the breasts may appear more droopy and deflated. The appearance of the breasts after implant removal depends on the way they looked before implantation and the size of the implants that were placed.
What causes capsular contracture?
After breast augmentation, the body normally forms scar tissue or a “capsule” around the implant. Capsular contracture is the abnormal hardening of this capsule. This can range from mild firmness of the implants to extreme hardness and distortion of the breast appearance. Severe hardening is uncommon. The cause is not known but has been linked to possible microscopic bacterial contamination. It cannot be predicted which patients will develop this as each individual heals differently. Dr. Min takes measures to reduce the risk of capsule formation by using an antibiotic irrigation during surgery and instructing all patients to perform breast massage afterwards to keep the implants soft.
What about pregnancy?
If you are planning to get pregnant within the next year or two, you should wait to undergo breast augmentation. Your breasts may undergo significant changes with pregnancy that may alter the results. If you have been pregnant recently, it is advisable to wait at least six months after you have finished breast-feeding to allow your breasts to have time to return to their normal shape and size.