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Breast augmentation is a cosmetic surgery that involves placing breast implants under breast tissue or chest muscles to increase breast size.
Who is a Candidate?
Breast augmentation may be necessary to rebuild the breast as a result of breast-damaging conditions. The surgery can also be performed for purely cosmetic reasons, to help women feel more confident about their appearance.
Women choose breast augmentation to:
Potential Side Effects and Risks
The risks of breast augmentation include:
- Scar tissue that leads to abnormal shape of the breast implant
- Breast pain
- Numbness in the nipple or breast
- Changes in implant position
- Implant leakage or rupture
Patients may require additional surgery to either remove or replace the implants if complications arise.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers of the possible association between breast implants and increased risk of developing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a rare cancer of the immune system. However, this does not mean that breast implants cause the condition. Further research is necessary to explain the connection between BIA-ALCL and breast implants.
Some women may experience symptoms of breast implant illness, which include skin rash, fatigue, memory loss, difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly, and joint pain. In some cases, the only way to reverse symptoms would be to remove the breast implants.
Breast augmentation surgery may be performed under local or general anesthesia. Once the patient has been sedated, the surgeon will make a single incision in one of the following three locations:
- The crease under the breast
- Under the arm
- Around the nipple
Next, the surgeon will separate the breast tissue from the muscles and connective tissue of the chest to create a pocket. The surgeon will then insert the implant into this pocket and center it behind the nipple.
Saline implants are inserted empty and filled with sterile salt water once they’ve been properly positioned. Silicone implants, on the other hand, are pre-filled with silicone gel.
Once the implant is in place, the surgeon will make stitches to close the incision and use skin adhesive and surgical tape to keep it in place.
The Recovery Process
It is common for patients to experience soreness, swelling, and bruising for a few weeks after surgery. Scars will fade over time, but remain visible.
Patients should wear a compression bandage or sports bra to help keep the breast implants in place while the incision heals. If the surgeon used stitches that need to be removed or placed drainage tubes near the breasts, patients will need a follow-up appointment.
Patients should contact their surgeon right away if they experience the following symptoms:
- Warmth or redness in the breast
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain