Your Guide to Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation is one of the most popular surgical cosmetic procedures, but it is a big decision that requires research and careful consideration.
If you are thinking about having breast augmentation, you may have some questions about the procedure. In this guide, we will provide useful information for readers considering undergoing breast augmentation. Along with covering the various implant types, we will also explain how the surgery is performed, how to prepare for the procedure, and any risks and complications you need to be aware of.
What is breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation is also known by various other names, including breast enlargement, augmentation mammoplasty, or colloquially as a ‘boob job’.
It is a procedure which uses breast implants to increase breast size and give a more voluptuous shape. Not only can breast augmentation give you a fuller cup size, but it can also help change the shape of the breasts, or make them more even.
For many people who undergo breast augmentation, the procedure can restore their confidence and have life-changing results. However, it does involve surgery and is not without its risks, so it is a big decision to make.
How does breast augmentation work?
Breast augmentation involves the placement of implants behind the breast tissue or chest muscle. Implants are usually filled with silicone or saline.
Before the procedure, anaesthesia is administered. Usually, general anaesthesia is administered for breast augmentation surgery. This means you won’t be awake for the procedure and won’t feel anything.
Your surgeon will begin by making incisions in target areas chosen to minimise scar visibility as much as possible. There are a few options for where surgical incisions are made:
- Inframammary – the natural crease underneath your breast (this is the most common)
- Transaxillary – under the armpit
- Periareolar – the area around the nipple or areola
The breast implant is then inserted into an area over or under the pectoral muscle — this is known as the pocket. An endoscope (a surgical tool that holds a camera) may be used for the procedure. The incisions made are then closed using stitches, skin adhesive or surgical tape.
The surgery will take between 60–90 minutes in total.
Is breast augmentation permanent?
Breast implants don’t last a lifetime, and you will likely need to get them replaced at some point. The average lifespan of an implant is between 10 to 20 years.
Some women may require a second surgery about 10 years after having breast augmentation to remove or replace the implant. There are several reasons why a breast implant may need to be removed or replaced including:
- A rupture, which depending on the type of implant, can lead to a reduction in breast size or an uneven look
- Scar tissue hardening and causing tightness, tenderness and pain, as well as size and shape changes
- Changes in breast position, due to sagging with age or significant weight change
- Ripples or wrinkles
- Revision surgery to make breasts larger or smaller, or to remove them entirely
Remaining healthy, maintaining a healthy weight and following your consultant’s advice can help to ensure your breast implants retain their shape and quality for many years.
What are the different types of breast implants?
There are two types of breast implants that are used in breast augmentation:
- Silicone implants. These implants are the most common type used in the UK. They can be filled with silicone in the form of a gel or liquid. Silicone implants can offer a more natural look and are less likely to wrinkle. However, there is a small risk that they spread into your breast and cause lumps.
- Saline implants. These implants are made from a saline solution — a mix of salt and water that gives breasts a firmer feel compared to silicone. These types of implants can be more likely to rupture or fold, but some people prefer to have implants made from a natural substance compared to silicone.
At The McIndoe Centre, we offer patients the choice of ethically approved silicone or saline implants. We also offer a type of implant called the ‘B-Lite’. This type of implant is made from a microsphere-enhanced, cohesive, silicone gel and is 30% lighter than the standard silicone equivalent.
Our expert consultants will help to guide and advise you on what implant is best, based on what is right for you — but ultimately, it is your decision.
How long is recovery after breast augmentation?
It may take a few weeks to fully recover from surgery, so usually you would take some time off work. The recovery period can take around four to six weeks in total. During this time, you should refrain from physical activity, heavy lifting and strenuous work.
The recovery timeline following breast augmentation looks like this:
- 24 hours post-surgery – following the procedure, you may rest for up to two hours in a recovery room. Usually, a hospital stay of one or two nights is required. You may feel tightness in your chest, and that your breasts are either oversensitive or lack sensitivity. There may be a degree of swelling or bruising, and you could feel tired and nauseous. You shouldn’t drive home, so be sure to arrange a lift from a family member or friend. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and muscle relaxants.
- Five to seven days post-surgery – by this time you might still feel some pain, but any discomfort should be mild. You can return to daily activities, but avoid strenuous exercise or lifting, especially actions that involve lifting your arms over your head. You’ll still be following post-operative instructions such as massaging your breasts to relax your muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Three to four weeks post-surgery – pain should have subsided by this stage. Swelling will have gone down and bruising will have faded. You may begin to exercise lightly and will continue to wear a front-closure or post-surgical bra.
- Four to six weeks post-surgery – most patients have recovered fully by this point and can resume all day-to-day activities. Your breasts will feel and look more natural than immediately after the procedure.
This is an approximate timeline — each person will have a unique recovery journey depending on factors such as the extent of their breast enlargement procedure.
Breast augmentation risks and complications
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with breast augmentation, and there is a small chance of side effects such as breast pain, swelling and prolonged redness.
Complications in breast augmentation are rare, occurring in 1% or more of operations. The risks associated with breast augmentation surgery include:
- Capsular contracture – when scar tissue hardens and causes pain, discomfort or size changes
- Breast pain – in the nipple or breast
- Infection – when wounds become contaminated
- Changes in nipple and breast sensation
- Implant leakage or rupture – caused by a hole or tear
- Implant position changes – displacement occurring during or after surgery
Your consultant will do everything they can to minimise the chance of any complications.
Are breast augmentations safe?
Breast augmentation is a very popular procedure and is considered very safe.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved many types of modern silicone implants, as has the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Approved silicone implants are recognised as safe for breast augmentation surgery.
Implants – be they silicone or saline – are not linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
When looking for the right clinic for your breast augmentation, ensure that the clinic is CQC qualified and the surgeon is GMC qualified. It is best to choose an experienced, qualified surgeon for your breast augmentation, such as the team of specialists at The McIndoe Centre.
Get in touch
If you are considering breast augmentation surgery, get in touch with our team of experts at The McIndoe Centre. Our specialists will be able to advise you on the best options available and guide you on preparation, cost and breast implant types, answering any other questions you might have.
Book a consultation at The McIndoe Centre today to find out more.