Breast Augmentation & Breast Implants

Last Updated: April 02, 2013

In 2012, breast augmentation was the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure for women in the United States. There were 286,274 enlargements performed, comprising 18% of all cosmetic surgical enhancements. Although a 7% decrease in total procedures from 2011, it's still up 35% from 2000.

Some of this popularity stems from the FDA’s approval of silicone breast implants in 2006, a year that, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, saw an 18% jump in breast enlargements. Since that time, augmentations have averaged 188,000 to 284,000 (up 51%) procedures per year.

The Evolution of Breast Augmentation & Implant Surgery

The safety and effectiveness of breast augmentation surgery, and cosmetic surgery as a whole, have progressed significantly over the past few decades. Until the FDA approved the use of silicone, saline breast implants were most typically used and are still considered the safest of the two options.

During the procedure, the implants are surgically placed to increase breast size and to enhance the shape of the breasts. Surgeons use several different techniques to accomplish these goals. Prior to the operation, your surgeon should discuss the details of your procedure as part of your confidential consultation, and explain the reasons behind their choice of a given method in your case.

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The pros to breast implant surgery are those immediately obvious, such as larger, firmer breasts that will never exhibit the ravages of time, such as drooping.

What are the Pros and Cons of Breast Augmentation?

All surgeries carry risks and breast augmentation is no different. It is possible for fever, infection, scarring, contraction of the implant, and post-surgical lumpiness to occur in one or both breasts. Any of these complications warrants immediate medical attention.

Of course, successful implant surgery results in larger, firmer breasts that will not succumb to the ravages of time and begin to droop. Augmented breasts look better in clothing than small or sagging breasts, and if the patient had stretch marks before the surgery, those will be completely eradicated to give the skin a baby smooth appearance.

What is the Material, Type, Shape, Texture, and Color of Implants?

Currently there are two types of breast implants approved by the FDA for safe use in augmentations: silicone gel and saline. Silicone gel implants are pre-filled, whereas saline is injected as part of the procedure.

Sizes and shapes offered vary, and that versatility is a popular aspect of the procedure. Some women request a teardrop shape, for instance, which more closely mimics the natural shape of the breast. Others prefer a more rounded look. (The teardrop implants can shift or turn over and appear lopsided, a problem that does not occur with round implants.) Both come in either textured or smooth surfaces, and in opaque or flesh-colored tones.

FDA Approval

Use of different materials

The FDA must approve the material used in breast augmentation before it can be legally used in the United States. For example, most breast implants are filled with an encased saline or silicone gel, which has been approved by the FDA. The problems with the silicone injections performed during the 1960's were due to leakage of the liquid silicone. This led to autoimmune and other health disorders among some of the women who received the injections.

What are the Methods and Techniques for Implant Insertion?

Depending upon the surgeon and the patient, different methods or techniques of insertion will be used. A sub-glandular placement, for example, does not involve the muscles of the chest, with insertion beneath the breast tissue only. The fatty tissue within the breast gives the implants a more realistic feel.

Another method is the partial sub-glandular placement. The implant is inserted behind the breast tissue, but the pectoral and chest muscles are involved to a degree. This procedure causes the breasts to feel and look natural as well.

Lastly, the surgeon may choose to use the full sub-muscular placement method, which attaches to the muscles in the upper arm. This procedure is frequently chosen, but it also causes the most pain afterwards and the longest recovery, with particular discomfort occurring when the arms are lifted.

What are Side Effects and Alternative Procedures?

It is important to understand that a breast enlargement may hide breast cancer. The presence of the implants means that self-exams often fail to reveal suspicious lumps. If the recipient of the implant has a family history of cancer, special monitoring precautions will be required.

Other potential side effects include leakage, ruptures, or numbness of the nipple or of the breast itself. If any of these events occurs or is suspected, medical help should be sought immediately.

For individuals who are reluctant to undergo breast augmentation surgery, alternative methods are available. These include breast firming creams, soft gel-filled pads inserted in the bra, and a high-protein diet. Often, women with small breasts who become pregnant will experience natural breast enlargement that remains after they have delivered and finish nursing their child.

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The typical breast augmentation patient is a woman in her mid-thirties who is in a long term relationship and have children.

Am I a Good Candidate for Breast Augmentation?

Because of the increased safety and effectiveness of cosmetic surgery, as well as its broad social acceptance, more and more people are choosing breast augmentation. Although breast implants continue to carry some stigma of danger, that fear is rapidly receding with more successful surgeries.

The typical breast augmentation patient is a woman in her mid-thirties who is in a long-term relationship and who have children. Most have considered the treatment for several years before going forward. Many want the surgery out of a desire to return to their pre-pregnancy appearance. In general good candidates are:

  • women in sound health,
  • who have a bell-shaped physique with small breasts in proportion to hip size,
  • who want to look more attractive in their clothing, or
  • who have uneven or sagging breasts.

Many breast augmentation patients choose to undergo liposuction or a minor face lift at the same time. These are options that must be fully discussed with the surgeon and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Will the Results Be Permanent?

The results of a breast augmentation are long lasting and usually permanent, unless a complication such as rippling, leaking or a rupture occurs. Recovery from breast enlargement surgery is on average one to two weeks, with the patient instructed to refrain from lifting the arms or handling anything with weight.

Breast Augmentation & Implant Cost

As an estimate, the cost of breast augmentation and implants will range between $4,000 and $10,000. For more information go here: Breast Implants & Augmentation Costs

What are Breast Implants?

Breast implants are teardrop or round-shaped prostheses made of either saline or silicone that are placed into a woman’s body to reshape, restore, or enlarge the shape and size of her natural breast.

Some women get implants for cosmetic reasons; others get implants to restore the breasts after a mastectomy.

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As an estimate, the cost of breast augmentation and implants will range between $4,000 and $10,000 depending on location, surgeon fees etc.

How is A Breast Implant Performed?

The Incision:

Depending on the surgeon you choose, your body type, personal preferences, and type of implant that is chosen, there are three different locations for the incision.

The implants can be inserted by creating a small incision in the crease below the breast. Another option is to place the incision around the areola’s lower curve, or the surgeon can even go through an incision in the armpit.

Preparing for Surgery:

Your doctor may request a baseline mammogram prior to surgery. Smokers may be asked to quit smoking to reduce the risk of complications. Breast augmentation is typically done as outpatient surgery, so transportation arrangements should be made in advance.

What are the Benefits of Breast Implants?

There are of course some fairly obvious benefits to having breast implants. Gravity will take its toll on everyone eventually, and breast implants can help fight off the sagging effects of this natural force.

Your breasts will be fuller, firmer, and smoother and you can choose the exact size you want them to be. Whether you seek a full and voluptuous DD cup, or a slightly more demure C cup, there is an implant available for you.

Your clothes will fit better, your self-confidence will increase, and you may find that you simply take more pleasure in life, knowing that you are looking your absolute best.

What are the Risks and Recovery Time?

The Recovery Period:

Your chest may feel stiff and sore for the first two to five days after surgery, and you will probably be required to wear a support bra during the healing time.

It is important that you refrain from any heavy lifting, strenuous activity, or twisting during this recovery period. Some discoloration, warmth and itching in the general area is normal, and you can expect the swelling to reside completely within a month.

The Risks:

Risks of any boob job include the possibility that the saline or silicone prosthesis may rupture or leak. Advancements in technology over the last 10 years, however, make this a very low risk. There is the chance that the implants may have a ruptured, or puckered look. Taking the time to choose a highly qualified surgeon can help minimize this risk. Scar tissue can form around the incision sites, a condition referred to as capsular contraction. Another risk is the possibility that you may lose some sensitivity in your nipples. Because general anesthesia may be used, the risk of a reaction to the anesthesia is also present.

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Because of the increased safety and effectiveness of cosmetic surgery, as well as its broad social acceptance, more and more women are choosing breast enhancements.

Good Candidate for Breast Implants?

Women often wonder if they are a good candidate for the procedure. This is an incredibly personal decision, and one that no other person can make for you. Asking yourself the following questions can help you make the decision.

  • Is one breast noticeably smaller than the other, and do you feel self-conscious about this?
  • Do you constantly feel that your breasts are simply too small?
  • Do you find that you have a problem with clothes being baggy at the bustline, while fitting tight through the hips?
  • After having children, are your breasts smaller, or sagging?
  • Have you lost weight, and with the weight loss noticed that your breast shape and size has changed?
  • Have you had a mastectomy for medical reasons and wish to regain your former shape?
  • Did breast feeding your children leave your breasts particularly thin and misshapen?

How Much do Breast Implants Cost?

The national average surgeon fee for a breast implant was ca $4,500 in 2011.
The total cost for breast implants varies slightly from one region to another. The total breast implant/augmentation surgery will in total cost roughly $6,000.
Prices may change, and will vary from one clinic and region to another.

Considering Breast Augmentation or Implants?

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