Breast Enlargement Surgery
Breast enlargement surgery, also known as breast augmentation, or augmentation mammoplasty, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that aims to enhance the size, shape, or fullness of the breast.
If you are considering undergoing breast enlargement surgery, it is vital to understand the procedure and the potential risks involved. Having a breast enlargement procedure is a big decision and you should give yourself time to decide whether it is the best option for you.
Who is Suitable for Breast Enlargement Surgery?
People of all ages can have this procedure, but patients are typically women in their 30s and 40s who have already had children and find their breasts are less pert. Younger women are recommended to wait until their breasts have stopped developing for at least 18 months prior to considering the procedure.
It is essential that you are able to commit to complete rest for the 2 weeks following breast enlargement surgery, so timing your procedure is very important. Time off work and support to look after any dependents during the recovery time is essential and strenuous activity must be avoided for a minimum of 6 weeks.
Breast enlargement surgery is appropriate for anyone wanting larger breasts. It may be that breast size has never been as large as desired, or size has been lost following pregnancy or weight loss.
Aims of Breast Enlargement Surgery
- To increase the size of your breasts if you think they are too small
- To restore size following breast surgery for other conditions, weight loss or pregnancy
- To improve your self-confidence and self esteem
- To improve symmetry when the breasts are asymmetrical
Ensure you discuss your goals with your doctor so that you can be realistic about what to expect from breast augmentation.
Preparing for Breast Enlargement Surgery
You will meet with your consultant prior to the procedure as they will want to understand your reasons for considering breast augmentation and what results you are looking to achieve. Understanding the reasons and the look you are aiming for will help your consultant decide what technique and implants should be used and whether a breast uplift (Mastoplexy) will also be required. You will be shown photos and sample implants to help you understand what the final look will be.
Before surgery, your consultant will take a full medical history as it is important that, as well as being emotionally prepared, you are also physically healthy. Your consultant will examine your breasts for lumps and bumps and will ask you whether you have a history of breast cancer. You can have a chaperone with you during the examination if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Your consultant will explain what will happen during the procedure, including the risks, possible complications, the results you can realistically expect and the recovery process. This is an opportunity to gather all the information you need to make an informed decision, so make sure you ask any questions you may have.
You will be required to wait a minimum of 2 weeks between your consultation and surgery to guarantee you have had enough time to carefully consider everything discussed and the decision you have reached.
Before you decide to have surgery, be sure to consider the following:
- Breast enlargement surgery won’t prevent your breasts drooping. In addition to a breast augmentation, you may also need an uplift to correct drooping breasts. The procedure is not guaranteed to last a lifetime. The typical lifespan of an implant is 10 years with implant rupture a possibility. Factors such as aging, weight gain or weight loss may have an impact on the way your breasts look, possibly resulting in more surgery.
- Mammograms might be more complicated. In addition to routine mammograms, you will require further, specialised views.
- Breast augmentation may hinder breast-feeding. In some cases, women are able to carry out breast feeding as easily as before, however in some, it presents a challenge following surgery.
- You may require additional surgery following implant removal. If you choose to have your implants taken out, you might require a breast lift or further corrective surgery to help restore your breasts’ appearance.
Before undergoing surgery, your doctor may suggest a baseline mammogram. They may also make adjustments to certain medications as it is important to avoid aspirin or other medications that can increase bleeding. It is also advised to stop smoking for at least 6 weeks prior to your operation as this will help reduce the risk of complications.
You may be required to stay overnight after the procedure. If you go home the same, ensure you make arrangements for someone to drive you home after your surgery and stay with you for a minimum of 24 hours.
As breast enlargement surgery is typically performed under general anaesthetic, you may be required to stop eating or drinking for some time before the operation. Your doctor will instruct you on the steps you have to take.
When you arrive at the hospital, your doctor will check you are well and happy to continue with the procedure and any final checks will be carried out to prepare you for surgery, such as asking you to wear compression stockings or having an anticlotting medicine injected to help prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Finally, your doctor will measure your breasts and evaluate their shape, your skin and the position of your nipples. They may also draw on your breasts to mark the operation site.
Silicone filled implants will give a noticeably increased appearance, particularly if the implants that are chosen are round. Round implants provide an overall fuller look due to the extra volume to both the upper and lower parts of the breast. Teardrop implants create a more natural look as the volume is added to the lower part of the breast. Implants can be positioned in front of, or behind the chest muscle. Your surgeon will usually position the implant directly behind the breast, when there is sufficient skin and breast as this gives the most natural looking result. However, your surgeon may recommend placing the implant behind the pectoral muscle if you have insufficient skin and breast tissue. Make sure you discuss the placement of your implant and the implications with your surgeon.
There are 2 types of implants that are made of silicone or saline. Silicone is more commonly used as they are less likely to wrinkle and feel more natural. Saline implants are more likely to fold or rupture over time. If this occurs, the saline can be safely absorbed into your body.
To achieve a more natural look, breasts can be enlarged using fat from other areas of the body, such as the hips or thighs. Fat is removed using liposuction and injected into the breast area. Lipofilling will provide a more natural look and can also recover the symmetry of your breasts; however, this technique will not increase size as much as an implant, typically offering an increase of 1 cup size. You may need to repeat the procedure due to the limited amount of fat that can be transferred at any one time.
A combination of an implant and lipofilling is known as a hybrid or composite augmentation. The benefits of this technique are that the breast is given the volume from the implant, but the results can look more natural. You can customise the procedure to achieve an even, more unique look.
It is common for breasts to become less firm after pregnancy, breastfeeding or aging. Your doctor may suggest that an uplift (Mastoplexy) is carried out at the same time as an enlargement, depending on the look you are aiming to achieve.
Breast Enlargement Procedure
Breast enlargement surgery usually takes around 1-3 hours, depending on the technique. It is typically performed under a general anaesthetic, meaning you will be unconscious during the procedure and will not feel any pain or discomfort.
The process varies depending on the technique you have opted for.
Lipofilling is a less invasive surgery technique as no incisions are required, but surgery time will be longer because of the time it takes to remove fat through liposuction and to prepare it to be injected.
The procedure is broken down in to 3 main stages:
Removing the fat
Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, small incisions are made in the skin and a thin tube is used to extract small amounts of fat, typically from your arm, thigh, stomach or buttocks. The incisions are then closed with stitches.
Preparing the fat
The fat collected then needs to be purified and separated from any blood or other fluids.
Injecting the fat
Small amounts of fat are then injected in to the breast.
For implants, your surgeon will make an incision in your breast, usually around the areola or below the breast at the inframammary fold. Incisions are placed intentionally to ensure scars are not visible. Your surgeon will create a ‘pocket’ for the implant, under your chest muscle or under existing breast tissue. Once the implant is inserted, a tilting operating table is used so the implants are assessed under the effects of gravity. Dissolvable stitches will be used to close the incisions and drainage tubes may be inserted to help reduce swelling and bruising. Once the stitches and drains are in place, the chest is bandaged and the surgery is complete.
Recovery and Aftercare
If you are able to go home the same day, you will need to make arrangements to have an adult drive you and stay with you for first 24 hours. In some cases, you will need to stay in hospital overnight following the surgery. Before you are discharged, you will be given information for your follow-up appointment and advice on caring for your wounds.
Following a general anaesthetic, you may find that you are a little uncoordinated, or that it is difficult to think clearly. This should ease off and pass within 24 hours. During that time, it is vital you do not drive, drink alcohol, cook or operate heavy machinery. You will be given painkillers to help manage the pain as the anaesthetic wears off. It is common for your chest to feel tight and your ribs and breasts to feel tender following your operation. Any drainage tubes will be removed before you are discharged.
It is likely that the treated areas will be swollen and bruised for a few weeks after the procedure. You might want to take this time off of work to heal and rest to achieve the best recovery. You may be given painkillers at the hospital to help manage your pain at home or you can take over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol.
You will be able to move around as usual straight after your surgery, although you should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for a few weeks. It may take some time to get used to the new shape or size of your breasts. You may think they look too high at first but this will settle down after a few weeks. You will probably be advised to wear a compression bandage or sports bra to help support and position the breast implants.
You will experience some scarring following the operation. These may be more prominent for the first 6 weeks, gradually fading over the course of 18 months. With lipofilling, some of the fat injected may be absorbed by your body during the first few months of the procedure, taking up to 6 months to fully take effect.
Risks and Complications
As with any procedure, there are some risks associated with breast enlargement surgery. Possible complications of any operation include the following:
- Blood clots
- An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
Surgical fat transfers (lipofilling) is a typically safe procedure. Following lipofilling, it is common to experience the following:
- Temporary numbness
- Loss of some of the fat that has been injected
In some cases, complications following lipofilling can arise. These include:
- Haematoma (a collection of blood under the skin)
- Death of fatty tissue (fat necrosis)
- Blocked blood vessel
- Thick, unsightly scarring
Occasionally, additional surgery is required as some of the fat injected is absorbed; therefore the desired size cannot be achieved in one operation.
Breast implants come with the risk of developing complications, including:
- Thick scarring
- Capsular contracture (breast tissue feeling hard). This is when abnormal scar tissue shrinks around the implant, making your breast feel harder. Eventually, it may start to feel tender or look abnormal, if this is the case, you may require additional surgery.
- A ruptured implant. This may result in small, tender lumps. If this occurs, you may need to have your implant taken out or replaced.
- The implant rotating in the breast, creating an abnormal shape.
- Rippling of the implant. This happens when the implant is only covered by a thin layer of tissue which sticks to the surface of the implant.
- Changes in sensations. Your nipples may become more sensitive, less sensitive or completely numb. This usually improves over a few months but in some cases, can be permanent.
- Difficulty breast feeding or producing breast milk.
- Bleeding around the implant. A haematoma can make your breast feel swollen and tight. If bleeding continues, you may need to have another operation.
- Infection. If your breast becomes infected it may be inflamed, swollen and tender. You may also experience feelings of being generally unwell. Infection can sometimes be treated with antibiotics but in most cases you will have your implant removed and replaced.
Outlook after Breast Enlargement Surgery
Breast enlargement surgery may improve your body image and self-confidence. However, it is important to keep your expectations realistic. Your breasts will continue to age following augmentation. Gaining or losing weight may also change the appearance of your breasts. If you become unhappy with the look of your breasts, you may require further surgery to correct these issues.
At One Ashford Hospital in Kent, we perform many different cosmetic surgeries, including abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) and facelift surgery. At One Ashford Hospital in Kent, we can book you in to see a specialist Cosmetic surgeon for an initial consultation, usually within 48 hours.
We are ideally placed to see patients in Ashford, Maidstone, Canterbury, Folkestone, Dover and surrounding villages.
You can’t usually use your private medical insurance for cosmetic surgery but you can pay directly for your Breast Enlargement Surgery treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread the cost of your treatment over a number of months. If you are able to use your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at One Hatfield Hospital.
Why One Healthcare
- Modern purpose-built hospital opened in March 2016 (Ashford) December 2017 (Hatfield)
- Fast access to diagnostics including MRI, X-ray and Ultrasound
- Private, spacious, en-suite rooms
- Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
- Little or no waiting time
- ‘Ultra clean air’ theatres
- Freshly prepared food
- Calm, dignified experience