Common Breast Augmentation Questions
Article by Jeffrey Roth, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
1. Why do women get breast augmentation?
To enhance the body contour of a woman who feels her breast size is too small. In addition to positive aesthetic results, data has shown patients often receive a substantial psychological boost.(1)
- To correct a reduction in breast volume after having children.
- To balance a difference in breast size.
- For reconstruction after breast surgery.(2)
2. How many breast augmentations are done in the United States?
There were 399,440 done in the United States in 2007. It is the most popular cosmetic surgery for females. It is the second most popular cosmetic surgery overall, (liposuction is first).(1)
There is a very high satisfaction rate (93%), (average follow-up 13 years). (3)
3. Who is a candidate for breast augmentation surgery?
Women who are looking for improvement, (not perfection), in the way that they look. Breast augmentation can enhance your appearance and self-confidence.
One should be physically healthy, and have realistic expectations. Expectations should be discussed with your Plastic Surgeon. (2)
4. I'm thinking about breast augmentation. Where will the scar be?
That will be discussed with the Plastic Surgeon at the time of consultation. Options include in the axillae, (armpit), inframammary fold, (under the breast), or peri-areolar, (around the nipple/areola complex). Incision placement will depend on multiple factors including your particular anatomy, tissues, and goals.
5. Can breast implants leak?
Implant failures are rare. Implants are filled with saline, (basically sterile salt water), which will be absorbed and then excreted in the urine without issue. The implant will have to be replaced. The rate of this occurrence is reported to be 1-3% over many years. The current silicone implants are made of a more cohesive gel, (Think gummi-bear). If there is a tear in the implant, the gel is designed not to leak out of the implant. The implant should still be replaced.
6. Do implants pose a problem for mammography?
Implants do not cause inaccurate mammography. They do require special, (displacement), views. The person doing the mammography needs to know that you have breast implants, and then they can take the extra views.
7. Can fat be taken from one area of the body and placed into the breasts?
No. Fat placed into breast tissue will sometimes calcify. These small calcifications may be seen on a mammogram and taken as a sign of cancer. Women may then go through a breast biopsy that they did not need.
8. Am I a candidate for breast augmentation or a breast lift?
Sometimes just the augmentation will address the issue, other times a lift is needed. This can only really be answered at the consultation, as each individual is different.
9. How long does the procedure take?
It depends on multiple factors; surgical approach, amount of dissection, anatomical abnormalities, etc. Typically 1 to 1-1/2 hours. You'll wake up the recovery room and typically go home after that.
10. What is the recovery time?
It depends on your specific operation, and the work that you do. Stitches typically are removed a week after surgery. Most are back to work in around 10 days or so.
11. How old do I have to be to have breast augmentation?
As of May 2000, Federal regulation prohibits breast augmentation for purely aesthetic surgery in women less than 18 years of age.(1)
12. Are there systemic effects of breast implants?
As of this writing, there is no scientific evidence that breast augmentation increases the risk of breast cancer, autoimmune disease, or any systemic illness.(1) Studies have shown that the incidence of breast cancer in women with breast augmentation is actually lower than average. This may be due to multiple factors.
13. Do breast implants affect pregnancy or breast feeding?
As of this writing, there is no evidence that breast implants affect pregnancy or ability to breast-feed. Pregnancy can alter breast size in an unpredictable way and could affect the long-term results of breast augmentation.(1)
14. What is the pain like after augmentation?
While the discomfort is usually well tolerated, our office offers the option of placing a "pain pump" during the procedure. The pump, (which comes in a fanny pack), will drizzle out medicine into the pocket. It is simply removed in 2-3 days. Patients with the pump typically take less pain medicine and are more active earlier.
15. How do I find a good Plastic Surgeon?
There are many good Plastic Surgeons. Places to start include the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, www.plasticsurgery.org, and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, www.abplsurg.org. Other sourcesican include your personal physician.
Remember, this is elective surgery. That means, you're the boss. It is important to like the Plastic Surgeon, and the office staff, that you choose.
If you have any questions about breast augmentation, or Plastic Surgery in general, please call.
(1) American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
(2) American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
(3) Cunningham BL, Lokeh A, Gutowski KA. Saline-filled breast implant safety and efficacy: a multicenter retrospective review. Plas Reconstr Surg. 2000. May 105(6):2143-9.