For many women, the size and shape of their breasts are of major importance. It can have a dramatic effect on her psychological, social, and medical well-being. Today, women who are troubled with small, underdeveloped, or asymmetric breasts can be helped with the technique known as Augmentation Mammaplasty. The ultimate goal of a breast augmentation is to create fuller breasts and improve the contour of a woman’s body by placing implants behind the breast tissue.
PRIOR TO SURGERY
A complete medical history and a careful examination with blood tests will be done in the initial preoperative visit to determine the general health of the patient. The surgeon will then evaluate the shape and structure of the patient’s breasts, and determine the extent of surgery and approach required to achieve the desired shape. Other options available will also be discussed to help achieve this desired shape, such as a breast lift at the same time as the augmentation.
Photographs, that do not include the face, may also be taken before and after surgery to evaluate the extent of improvement. Moreover, the surgeon will discuss the procedure, realistic expected results, type of anesthesia to be used, and possible risks of surgery. The surgeon will also discuss the pros and cons of each of the three techniques for this procedure.
Preoperative instructions generally include taking certain vitamins and elimination of certain drugs, such as birth control pills, to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding. Furthermore, antibiotics may be prescribed for the days prior to surgery in order to prevent infection. Women who anticipate breast-feeding should also discuss this with the surgeon since the ability to do this can vary with each individual after surgery.
Breast Augmentation is generally performed in an outpatient surgical facility under general anesthesia or IV sedation and the procedure usually lasts one to two hours. The incision for the surgery can be placed in one of three places: under the breast where it meets the chest, under the dark skin of the areola, or hidden under the armpit. In either case a pocket is created under the breast tissue or the chest muscle. Next an empty silicone shelled implant is placed in the created pocket, and the implant is inflated with saline to the desired size. Small sutures are used to close the incisions once the breast symmetry is checked.
Patients are usually allowed to go home after surgery. A surgical dressing is placed to protect the incisions and a supportive bra may be required for the first three weeks. The breasts may be swollen and bruised for the first few days and any pain experienced can be controlled with oral medication. Furthermore, the breast and nipples may be numb, but this usually subsides as the swelling decreases within the next six weeks or so. Healing is gradual, and although light activity can be resumed within a few days routine exercising and vigorous activity should be avoided, the surgeon will describe details of when normal activity can be resumed. Sutures are removed in about a week and the scars will be red and lumpy for the first months, fading to light lines over time.
Breast Augmentation operations are normally safe, especially due to the change to saline filled implants, but as with any surgery there are complications such as bleeding and infection. In some cases the breasts can become too firm due to scar tissue and a second procedure may be necessary. To help ensure a safe outcome the patient should adhere to the physician’s instructions.