Breast augmentation, or breast implants, is a procedure many women get to make their breasts bigger and fuller, or to achieve balance if their breasts are asymmetrical. This can be done for reconstructive purposes, such as after a mastectomy, or for general cosmetic reasons. If your breasts are sagging, your doctor may also recommend a Breast Lift.
There are two basic types of breast implants: saline and silicone gel. Saline-filled implants are silicone shells filled with sterile saltwater. Silicone gel-filled implants are silicone shells filled with a plastic gel.
About the Procedure
Breast augmentation procedures usually take 1 to 2 hours and are performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make a cut under your breasts, under your arms or around your nipples, depending on your body, the type of implant, and the extent of the enlargement.
The surgeon will put the breast implant into a pocket above or below your chest muscle. After the implant is in place, the surgeon will close the incisions with sutures or surgical tape. You may also have drainage tubes, which will be removed in a few days.
You’ll need to take it easy for a few days after your breast augmentation surgery. This means no heavy lifting for up to 6 weeks after getting your implants. You will probably have some swelling in the area where the surgery was done, but it should ease and the scars will fade over time.
Although it’s a cosmetic procedure, breast implant surgery does carry risks, including breast pain that your doctor may prescribe pain medication for. Other risks include:
- Changes in sensation in the nipple and breast
- Scar tissue hardening in the area around the implant
- Bleeding and, though rare, infection
It’s also possible for implants to rupture and leak. If saline implants rupture, the saline will be safely absorbed by the body. A silicone leak may stay inside the implant shell or leak outside of the shell. When a saline implant ruptures, it will deflate. But silicone breast implants may cause no obvious symptoms when they rupture. This is called silent rupture. In the event that your implants rupture, you will need to have them removed or replaced.