Breast augmentation is a surgery to increase the size or change the shape of your breasts.
Reasons for Procedure
This procedure may be done for:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Abnormal scarring
- Painful and/or restricted arm and shoulder motion
- Uneven appearance of breasts, either due to position or size
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Implant hardens, ruptures, leaks, or deflates
- Implant may make cancer detection with mammogram and/or self-exam more difficult
- Decreased sensation
- The need to have more surgeries, including having the implants removed
Smoking may increase the risk of complications.
This is an elective surgery. If you have any illnesses or you are in poor health, you should not have this procedure.
Silicone-filled breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. They typically need to be removed within 10 years. Your risk for complications increases the longer you have the implants.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
You may be asked to provide a picture of a woman whose breasts you want yours to resemble. You also may be asked to look through an album of breast sizes and shapes to help the doctor understand the outcome you desire. Computer imaging may also be used to help determine desired results.
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam, including a careful breast exam
- Blood and urine tests
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Take photos for comparison
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
Leading up to your procedure:
- The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- You may be asked to shower the morning of your procedure. You may be given special antibacterial soap to use.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
- Arrange for help at home after returning from the hospital.
Local anesthesia may be used, but general anesthesia is usually used. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep. With local anesthesia, the selected area will be numb.
Description of the Procedure
A cut in the skin will be made either underneath your breast, alongside the area around the nipple, in your underarm, or in your belly button. An implant or prosthesis will be placed through the incision. The implant can contain silicone gel or can be filled with salt water after it is placed. It may be placed between the skin/breast tissue and the muscle, underneath the connective tissue of the muscle, or under the muscle itself. You may or may not have a drainage tube placed around the implant. The incision will be closed with stitches and bandaged. The same procedure may be repeated for the other breast.
Side View of Breast Implantation
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may have some bruising and tenderness of the breasts for several weeks after surgery. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure may be done in the hospital or surgery center. It may be possible to leave the hospital or surgery center on the same day of the procedure, or you may be asked to stay overnight in the hospital. Talk to your doctor about your options.
After the procedure:
- You will wear a special bra or bandage to put pressure on the breasts. This will help to support your breasts and decrease the chance of bleeding.
- Your doctor may advise you to massage or move your implants.
Be sure that you follow-up with your doctor. For silicone gel implants, you will need routine MRI scan screenings to check for tears or holes in the implant. The screenings are typically done three years after surgery and every two years after that.
Call Your Doctor
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
- Discoloration in either breast
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
- Implants grow hard, or you believe that they are leaking
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
- Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Breast Implant Information
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Breast augmentation. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Smart Beauty Guide website. Available at: http://www.smartbeautyguide.com/procedures/breast/breast-augmentation. Accessed September 5, 2014.
Silicone gel-filled breast implants: updated safety information. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm260235.htm. Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed.com. Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
7/1/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed.com. FDA provides updated safety data on silicone gel-filled breast implants. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm260235.htm. Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Donald Buck, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.