Breast augmentation guide

Breast enhancement or enlargement is undoubtedly one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world today. During surgery, prosthetic implants are placed behind the existing breast tissue via incisions along the natural crease of the breast, in the armpit or in the underside of the nipple area.

If you are considering undergoing breast enlargement surgery, please read the following guide, in which you will learn about preparing for surgery, the procedure itself and the results you can expect to achieve.

Reasons for having a breast augmentation

There are two main reasons why you may be considering undergoing breast enhancement surgery:

Preparing for surgery

The first step in considering breast enlargement surgery is to consult your GP for advice. As with breast reductions, implants for purely cosmetic reasons are rarely available on the NHS (although your GP will be able to advise you further on whether your particular circumstances warrant surgery). You can then be referred to a private clinic – make sure this is a reputable establishment with a respected specialist plastic surgeon.

Women who have had a mastectomy as part of NHS treatment for breast cancer are usually offered the choice of having an implant to replace the breast they have lost. Sometimes surgeons performing the mastectomy will put in an implant during the same operation; sometimes they prefer to wait. Your doctor will discuss these options with you in full.

For your initial consultation, request to see the surgeon who will actually be performing your operation. You will be examined, measured and asked questions about your breasts and what you hope to gain from having the surgery. You will also be told more about the procedure itself, including any risks involved, aftercare and scarring, and consulted on the overall size and shape you hope to achieve.

The procedure

There are two main types of breast implants used in the UK: silicone (which are more common and available as a liquid, gel or solid form) and saline (sterile salt water). Both types have inherent advantages and disadvantages, which is one of the topics your surgeon will discuss with you, as well as the location of the incisions and the best method of carrying out enlargement surgery for your body.

The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes between one and two hours to complete, after which you will be required to stay in hospital overnight.

Afterwards you will experience some swelling and pain, for which you’ll be given appropriate painkillers. Initially your breasts will be covered with bandages and there may be ‘drain’s at your sides to draw off surplus fluid. You will either have had stitches or staples, which will be removed in time. Ask your surgeon or nurse for advice on changing/removing dressings before you leave hospital.

As with the recovery from any major surgery, you will need to take time off work and shouldn’t undertake a strenuous exercise regime or lift heavy objects for at least six weeks. You will be given leaflets on gentle exercises you can do to improve mobility over time. During your recovery you should wear a non-wired post surgery bra, a soft sports bra or supportive crop top under the advice of your medical team.

Scarring varies widely depending on the method of surgery used, but initially your scars will be red, sore and possibly raised for a few weeks, gradually fading to purple, then white.

The results

Try to have realistic expectations about the results of your surgery before you go in. There is no question that you will be fuller figured following surgery, but it might take a while to get used to the scarring and the look and feel of your new bust. After the swelling has gone down, you will still feel sensation through your skin, but this might be greatly reduced through your nipples and the breasts themselves. If you have gone considerably larger you may have to adjust to wearing a bra all the time.

In the long term, most implants currently need to be removed after 10-15 years, so build this into your expectations as well.

Overall, the majority of women who undergo breast augmentation surgery are delighted with the results and the boost to their self-esteem is undeniable.

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The information provided on this site is not meant to substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional. neither assumes any legal liability nor makes any warranty or guarantee, either expressed or implied, regarding the completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or currency of this information. It is the responsibility of the reader to check for updates to the information contained on this site.