Breast augmentation (or breast implant or breast enlargement or even “boobjob” as it is sometimes known) has become very popular in recent years.
The purpose of a breast augmentation or breast enlargement is to improve the volume of the breast and in so doing to change the shape of the breast. In order to do this, a pocket is created below the breast, either in front of or behind of the pectoralis muscle and a breast implant is placed within this pocket. The implant can be of varying volumes and of varying shapes.
Different types of implants
The implants most often used are silicone implants and it is worth spending a good deal of time with your surgeon going through all the different types of silicone implants, including their shape, projection, shell features, type of silicone content, firmness and surface characteristics.
It is worthwhile being quite clear about exactly how you wish to change your breast so that the desired effect can be achieved by selecting an implant carefully matched to the desired effect. There can be subtle but very distinct differences in the appearance of the breast depending on the shape of the implant that is used and exactly how it is positioned within the breast.
It is worth being quite clear about what style of appearance is desired. Going through this with your surgeon may take one or two consultations, but this is time well spent.
The consultation for breast augmentation or enlargement
There are many issues to be covered during the consultation, including the pros and cons of surgery, the risks and potential complications related to surgery and the changes in the breast over the long term. One needs to explore your thoughts with relation to having a family, breastfeeding, and issues related to breast cancer and cancer screening. These will all be covered in depth during your consultation.
There are always pros and cons to breast augmentation surgery and the potential for risks and complications. It is worth going through all these issues with your surgeon at consultation to be sure you make an informed decision about whether implant surgery is right for you.
Some of the issues which need to be considered are:
- the potential for complications which arise with the initial procedure
- possibility of maintenance surgery over the years
- the possibility of implant failure, either in terms of shape or rupture
- the change in the shape of the breast after pregnancy or breastfeeding and the possibility of further surgery being required thereafter
- issues related to cancer screening
The government has prepared an excellent information booklet which addresses many of these issues very well. This can be found on the MRHA website under the heading “information for women considering breast implants”.
After breast augmentation surgery
After breast augmentation it is very important that the implant is kept in its correct position in relation to the breast tissue. This is best achieved by wearing a good supportive sports bra for six weeks following surgery.
Slow return to your usual physical activities during the six week period is necessary, with saving of the heavy-duty upper body exercise until after the six-week period. Avoid swim training, jogging, cross training and sweeping or digging till after the 6 weeks. To keep fit meantime lower body work is fine eg walking, uphill walking, step training, cycling on a fixed bike using legs only.
Corsets, under-wired bras, chicken fillets, uplift bras or other contouring underwear should not be used until after the six-week period as these are able to displace the implant position.
If an implant is tending to ride high, it is sometimes necessary to wear a breast band on the upper breast to help the implant move back into its correct position.
Breast implant brands and manufacturers
Implants include saline filled silicone shell implants; silicone filled silicone shell implants, or combined implants with a saline bladder and a gel outer layer within a silicone shell - these implants are generally used when flexibility is required and they allow adjustment of the shape and size of the implant after surgery. This is particularly useful if there is pre-existing asymmetry, either due to growth or after surgery. They are very often used after breast reconstruction and may be used after breast surgery for removing lumps or other problems.
At CAER we have no bulk order “tied in” contract with implant suppliers and therefore there is no pressure to pick a particular implant manufacturer, style, size or shape. This has the advantage of more choice and being able to select an implant which will achieve exactly what you wish it to do.
We are happy for you spend time discussing implants and implant selection in detail having a second consultation if needed.
Combined breast uplift and breast augmentation
Breast augmentation can be combined with other procedures depending on the particular needs of a patient. It can at times be necessary to carry out a breast uplift procedure in conjunction with a breast augmentation. This not only helps to increase the volume of the breast, but uplifts the breast tissue to improve the shape of the breast and the position of the breast on the chest wall.
Combined uplift and augmentation surgery can be challenging and at times it is difficult to achieve the desired effect in a single operation. Depending on exactly what is required for a particular individual it may be necessary to carry it out in a staged approach, initially carrying out uplift surgery with an augmentation as a subsequent, smaller procedure.
Breast augmentation or breast uplift?
Augmentation is no substitute for uplift. Augmentation can help to fill out an empty breast, but it is not especially useful for correcting the droopy breast. If the size of the breast is satisfactory but the contour and droop of the breast is the problem, then an uplift procedure (mastopexy) may be preferable to an augmentation.
Implant surgery after breast reconstruction
Implant surgery is sometimes required after breast reconstruction. This is either for augmenting a breast reconstruction which has lost volume, perhaps after radiotherapy, or for adjusting the opposite breast to help with symmetry with a reconstructed breast. Once again the shape of the implant is chosen carefully to ensure the contour changes address the area of the breast needing this, perhaps the upper pole, perhaps the lower pole, medially, laterally, and so on.