What is Breast Augmentation surgery?
Breast augmentation can be carried out to enlarge the size of the bust, to match up breasts of different sizes and to normalise breast shape and volume consequences of weight loss, ageing and pregnancy. If loss of volume or a change in laxity of the skin has resulted in a ‘droopy’ or ‘ptotic’ appearance to the breast, then an implant may be combined with an ‘uplift procedure’ (mastopexy).
Breast Implant Surgery
Implants consist of a silicone shell containing either a salt solution (saline) or silicone gel, or even a combination of both. Most commonly, silicone gel is used as it has a more natural texture and behaves more closely to normal breast tissue. Saline implants are often used in reconstructive techniques. Implants can be round or shaped (‘anatomical tear-drop shaped implants’) and there are benefits and disadvantages of each. Mr Kirkpatrick will work together with you to choose the correct implant for you.
Patients often enquire whether there is any relationship between breast implants and breast cancer or autoimmune disease, which has been widely published in newspapers and journals. From all the scientific studies to date, there is no correlation that we are aware of. Silicone is commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry for coating tablets and has many other uses in medicine which do not cause health problems.
The life span of implants, according to the manufacturers, is 10 years on average, although some now claim much longer periods. Some offer a lifetime guarantee against rupture.
Having breast implants does not interfere with mammography although you need to inform the radiographer at the time of your examination.
When you consult Mr Kirkpatrick you will have the opportunity to discuss the procedure, and to see what the different implants look like. Mr Kirkpatrick will also be able to give you some idea of what you will look like after surgery and how much your bust size will change.
Mr Kirkpatrick always recommends a second consultation, once you’ve had time to think about your surgery in more depth. By the time you see Mr Kirkpatrick again, usually within a few weeks, you will have had the opportunity to think of any questions that are still unanswered. He will discuss the surgical procedure and finalise the implant size and selection. A follow-up appointment with Mr Kirkpatrick and the plastic surgery nurses will be arranged a few days after your operation.
How long will I need to stay in hospital?
Although most people will prefer to stay overnight after surgery, many patients are able to go home the same day after breast augmentation surgery. Occasionally, if there has been too much bleeding, a surgical drain at the site of surgery may keep you in hospital an extra day.
How long does it take to recover from breast augmentation surgery?
Although there is some minor discomfort after breast augmentation surgery, especially if the implant has been placed underneath your chest muscle, it is not usually painful. There may be some bruising and swelling that take a few weeks to settle, and the final shape of the breast won’t be fully evident for about six months. You can go back to work once comfortable, but Mr Kirkpatrick advises no strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for the first few weeks.
How long does breast augmentation surgery last?
Breast augmentation results are life long, although the effects of ageing on your normal tissues are unaffected. Mr Kirkpatrick will be able to guide you as to what you may expect to be achieved.
Commonly Asked Questions
- The scars – implants can be inserted from an incision made around the nipple, or through the arm pit or in the crease underneath the breast. The last is the most commonly used. The location of the incision will be discussed with you and Mr Kirkpatrick will recommend what he feels is most appropriate.
- Implant position – implants can be placed above the chest wall muscle (pectoralis major) or beneath it. Mr Kirkpatrick will discuss this with you, but much depends on the size of your breasts, whether you already have implants and the size of augmentation you would like. In general, if the augmentation is to enlarge a small bust then the implants are likely to be placed below the muscle. This generally gives a better result with less implant palpability and a reduced incidence of capsule formation.
- Capsule Formation – Any implant that is placed into the body will form a layer of scar tissue around it called a capsule. Occasionally, this may become thickened with the result that the implant may become painful, hard and change shape. The implants that we currently use are less likely to form a dense capsule but Mr Kirkpatrick will be happy to review you should problems arise. Placement of the implant beneath the pectoralis muscle lessens the problems associated with capsule formation.
- Can I still breastfeed? – Having implants will not interfere with breast feeding, and there is no evidence that silicone appears in breast milk.
- Will I have altered sensation in my breasts? – Immediately following surgery your breasts will feel firm, and tender. As the initial swelling subsides you may notice reduced sensation in your breasts and nipples. This usually returns to normal, but may take up to several weeks to do so.
- What are the chances of infection? – The chances of infection are low but if you develop any discomfort or redness you should contact Mr Kirkpatrick immediately.
- Will my bust change as I get older? – The answer to this is of course yes. As you age, your breast will tend to become more ‘droopy’ or ptotic. This can be corrected by changing the size of the implant and/ or by carrying out an ‘uplift’ procedure or mastopexy.
Breast Uplift (Mastopexy) surgery
Breast uplift surgery can be performed as a single procedure or combined with an implant at the same time. It is a useful procedure to correct droopy breast tissue, but invariably involves slightly more scarring than simple implant only operations. In the larger breast, by tightening up the skin and breast tissue, a more youthful look can be achieved without a resultant larger bust, which is more acceptable to some woman. Mr Kirkpatrick will discuss all the options with you, so that you can make the decision that is right for you.