A breast augmentation, or mammaplasty, increases the fullness of the breasts by using implants or fat transfer. A breast augmentation can restore volume after weight loss or pregnancy. A breast augmentation can improve the balance of your figure and enhance your self-confidence. However, a breast augmentation does not correct drooping or sagging of the breasts. A breast lift in addition to a breast augmentation may be required if you want your breasts to be fuller and lifted.
A good candidate for a breast augmentation is someone that is physically healthy and is bothered by the size or shape of their breasts. The FDA requires that women be at least 18 years old to undergo a breast augmentation with saline implants and at least 22 years old to receive silicone implants.
Types of Implants
- Saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water. If the implant leaks, the implant collapses and the saline is absorbed and expelled by the body.
- Silicone breast implants are filled with silicone gel. Most women believe that silicone gel implants feel most like their natural breast tissue. If the implant leaks, the gel may remain instead the shell or escape into the surrounding tissue. The implant will not collapse.
- "Gummy bear" implants maintain their shape even when the shell is broken. These implants are different from traditional silicone gel implants because they are firmer and shaped instead of being round. The consistency of the silicone gel is thicker.
- Round implants are the same shape all over, so there is less concern if they rotate out of place.
- Smooth breast implants feel the softest and can provide natural movement. The downside to smooth implants is that they can have palpable or visible rippling.
- Textured breast implants develop scar tissue that sticks to the implant and they are less likely to move around.
With a fat transfer breast augmentation, fat is collected from one part of the body using liposuction and then injected into the breasts. This option is best for women that are only looking for a small increase in size and natural results.
In order to minimize visible scarring, incisions are made in inconspicuous areas such as underneath the nipple, in the armpit, or underneath the breast. Incisions will vary depending on the type of implant. The breast implant can be inserted either behind the muscle or directly behind the breast tissue. This depends on the type of implant and the degree of enlargement desired. Incisions are closed using sutures, surgical tape, or adhesive.
Results will be immediately visible although they may be initially obscured by swelling. Over time the implants will "drop" into their permanent position. The scars will fade over time. Breast augmentations require regular examinations to evaluate the condition of the implants. Breast implants may complicate mammograms and special x-ray views may be required. Some women are able to breast feed after a breast augmentation while others may not.