Breast Augmentation is the surgical procedure which increases the size, shape and fullness of the breast. There may be a number of reasons why one chooses to have the breast augmentation surgery. But, when you decide to have the surgery it is important you know the choices available and pick the best option.
Why go for Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation is considered for multiple reasons and sometimes there may not be a reason involved. Generally, breast augmentation is done to:
- Enlarge breasts that are small in size
- Restore the shape and size of the breasts after weight loss, pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Restoring symmetry when one breast is asymmetrical to another
- Improve self-confidence and self-esteem in women
- Regain the youthful appearance and curves that are lost in aging
- Reconstruct the breasts as a part of breast cancer treatment
What are Breast Implants?
Breast implants are the medical prosthesis placed inside the breast to reconstruct, recreate or create the physical form of breasts. There are mainly three types of breast implants. They are
- Saline Implants
- Silicone Implants
- Alternative composite Implants
- Saline Implants
Saline implants are filled with sterile saline solution like salt water. The sterile solution is filled inside a silicone shell. These shells are first inserted into the patient’s body are then filled once they are in place.
These implants can be filled with different quantities of saline solution depending on the requirement of the patient. This affects the feel, firmness of the breast. Saline implants are available to women of 18 and above for breast augmentation and to women of any age for breast reconstruction.
There is a risk of leak with any implants. If the saline implant leaks, the solution will be absorbed by the body and there is no need of any additional procedures.
- Silicone Implants
Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel- a thick, sticky fluid that gives the feel of human fat, inside a silicone shell. Most of the women have a belief that silicone implant looks and feel more natural.
The silicone gel is filled inside the silicone shell before the surgery. Silicone implants are available to women of age 22 and above in case of breast augmentation and any age for breast reconstruction.
If the silicone implant leaks, the gel will stay in the shell or move to the breast implant pocket. There is a risk of implant collapse if the implant leaks.
When silicone implants are used, there will be more regular checkups with the doctor when compared to the saline implants. The doctors will order an MRI or ultrasound scan to check the condition of the implant.
- Alternative Composite Implants
Alternative composite implants are filled with soy oil, polypropylene string or some other material.
Risks of Breast Implants
Silicone and saline implants pose similar risks including
- Scar tissue which distorts the shape of breast implant
- Temporary change in nipple and breast sensation
- Leakage or rupture of the implant
What to Expect?
As breast augmentation is a surgical procedure, think carefully before opting for this surgery. Decide what size of implant you need before the surgery with the help of your doctor. A general anaesthesia is used during the surgery generally but sometimes a local anaesthetic is also used.
Options for Incision
There are a few options available for the patients on where you want your incision to be. The doctor should discuss these options with the patients. The available options are:
- Inframammary incision done in the crease under the breast
- Transaxillary incision done in the armpit
- Periareolar incision done around the nipple
Deciding among the above options depends on several factors including:
- Size of the implant
- Patients anatomy
- Type of implant
- Surgeon-patient preference
Insertion and Placement of Implants
There are two types of placement techniques used to insert breast implant into a pocket. They are
A submuscular placement – The implant is placed under the pectoral muscle. This type of placement takes more time to recover and more painful after the surgery.
A submammary or subglandular placement – The implant is inserted behind the breast tissue over the pectoral muscle.
The incision closing is done with stitches or adhesive. The incision lines will be visible at first, but after a while, they will fade away.
As the anaesthetic wears off, the patient will feel some pain for which pain killers are given. Some swelling after the surgery is common and it will resolve in about two weeks. The incision lines will also fade over time.
If the surgeon uses absorbable or dissolvable sutures, they will disappear within 6 weeks. If the sutures are not dissolved, they will need to be removed. If the surgeon places a drain tube near the breasts, then that will need to be removed as well on the follow up appointment.
If there is any sign of infection you should immediately seek medical attention. The doctors will advise some post-operative exercises to relieve pain and discomfort and also specify what type of bra to wear.
- Rupture or leakage of the implant
- Accumulation of fluid
- Temporary loss of sensation in the breast and nipples
Based on the patients anatomy, body type and other factors, the surgeon recommends the type of implant suitable to achieve the best results. Ultimately, the choice always lies with the patient.