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Augmentation mammoplasty, or breast augmentation is a surgical procedure to increase the size, shape or fullness of a woman's breasts. The surgeon places silicone, saline or alternative composite breast implants under the chest muscles or breast tissue.
Breast augmentation is done to:
Breast enlargement boosts self-esteem - women usually experience a significant boost in self-esteem and positive feelings about their sexuality after undergoing breast enlargement, researchers from the University of Florida reported in Plastic Surgery Nursing.
The authors emphasized that although plastic surgery is not a panacea for feelings of sexual attractiveness or self-worth, it is important for health-care professionals to understand the psychological benefits of these procedures.
Study leader, Prof. Cynthia Figueroa-Haas, said "Many individuals, including health-care providers, have preconceived negative ideas about those who elect to have plastic surgery, without fully understanding the benefits that may occur from these procedures."
According to an article published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (May 2013 issue), 98% of women who underwent breast augmentation surgery said the results met their expectations. Dr. Eric Swanson, a plastic surgeon who conducted the prospective outcome study, added that women also reported improvements in quality of life and self-esteem after their procedure.
Dr. Swanson reported that the average patient was 34 years old, and most opted for the 390 cc saline-filled breast plant under the muscle.
The study, involving 225 women who were followed for five years, found that:
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 307,190 breast augmentations procedures in the USA in 2011, as well as 22,271 breast implant removals.
Women with breast implants can still breastfeed - no part of the implant gets into the breast milk.
A breast implant is a medical prosthesis that is placed inside the breast to augment, reconstruct or create the physical form of the breast.
The outer layer of breast implants is made of firm silicone. The inside of the implant is filled either with salt water (saline solution), silicone gel, or a composite of alternative substances. Makers of breast implants say they should last for at least ten years.
There are three main types of breast implants:
The patient may have a choice of general or local anesthesia. Under local anesthesia the patient is awake and only the surgical area is numbed. However, in most cases the procedure is done under general anesthesia.
The surgeon and patient should discuss incision options. The doctor should explain which are most suitable for the patient and her desired outcome.
The following incision options are possible:
The choice of which incision to use depends on several factors, including the degree of enlargement, the patient's anatomy, the type of implant, and surgeon-patient preference.
The breast implant is inserted into a pocket. Today, there is a choice between two types of placements:
Techniques used today for placing breast implants have significantly improved recovery times.
Dr. Lucian Ion talks about some basic principles behind choosing placement of the breast implants:
The surgeon closes the incisions with layered sutures (stitches) in the breast tissue, and with skin adhesives, sutures and surgical tape to close the skin and keep it closed.
Initially, there will be evident incision lines. These will fade with time.
Breast augmentation results are visibly evident straight away. There will be some swelling caused by the surgery, which will resolve within a couple of weeks. As the swelling dies down and the incision lines fade, the patient will have a better idea of whether the procedure met her expectations.
As the anesthetic wears off, the patient will be given painkillers to relieve the pain.
Nobody should drive immediately after anesthesia, because it affects coordinating and reasoning skills for at least 24 hours. Ideally, the patient should have a relative or friend stay with them for a day if they go home soon after the operation.
In most cases, the woman should not engage in strenuous physical activities for about six weeks. She will probably be encouraged to do some post-operative exercises, such as flex and move her arms to relieve pain and discomfort.
Thanks to more advanced techniques today, including submuscular and subglandular placements, recovery times have improved considerably.
It is important to follow the surgeon's advice regarding what type of bra to wear, and when to wear it.
If the surgeon used sutures that do not dissolve, or placed drainage tubes near the breasts, the patient will need a follow-up appointment to have them removed.
Absorbable (dissolvable) sutures usually disappear within six weeks.
If there is any sign of infection, such as fever, or warmth and redness in the breast area, the surgeon or his/her nurse should be contacted immediately. If the patient experiences chest pains, unusual heart beats, or shortness of breath, the surgeon needs to be told straight away.
The patient should have received the following instructions from her medical team
The patient should have asked the following questions before the surgery:
Women whose implants were inserted beneath the chest muscles (submuscular placement) will take longer to recover, and will also experience slightly more pain, because of the healing of the incisions to the chest muscles.
Every surgical procedure has risks, and breast enlargement is no exception. A good surgeon will explain all the risks to the patient.
Below are some of the risks and complications associated with breast augmentation:
Below is an informational video from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons about breast augmentation
In order to be fully informed, and also for the surgeon to completely understand the needs of the patient, you should make a list of questions. Tick each one off as the surgeon answers them.
Below are examples of some questions you could ask regarding breast augmentation:
It is important that the surgeon you chose is licensed and recognized by a competent professional plastic surgery association of your country.
In the USA, the surgeon should be a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Go to this web page to Find an ASPS certified plastic surgeon.
You will then be sure that he/she:
If you are in the UK, you should seek out a plastic surgeon certified by The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Go to this web page "Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon by Region".
The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery is the only recognized professional body of Canadian plastic surgeons. Click here to find a CSAPS member near your area.
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons Inc (ASPS) is the peak body for Specialist Plastic Surgeons (both reconstructive and cosmetic). Click here to find an accredited plastic surgeon in your area.Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
Sources: American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Youtube, Wikipedia, FDA, Medical News Today archives.
Visit our Cosmetic Medicine / Plastic Surgery category page for the latest news on this subject.
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Nordqvist, Christian. "What is breast augmentation? What are breast implants?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 18 Jul. 2013. Web.
8 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263567>
Nordqvist, C. (2013, July 18). "What is breast augmentation? What are breast implants?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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