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What Is Breast Augmentation or Breast Enlargement?
Breast augmentation, more commonly known as breast enlargement or a boob job, is a cosmetic procedure that typically involves the use of breast implants or fat grafting (aka fat transfer) to enhance the size, shape and symmetry of the breasts. It is often performed in conjunction with a mastopexy; a breast-lifting surgical procedure designed to correct sagging breasts which may have occurred as a result of aging, breastfeeding or weight loss.
Why Is Breast Augmentation Done?
Usually performed for cosmetic reasons, breast augmentation enhances feminine contours and restores self-confidence. The procedure can serve to correct breast volume abnormalities such as breast asymmetry or mammary hypoplasia. Breast implants or fat transfer can also be employed in breast reconstruction after undergoing a lumpectomy or mastectomy; the partial or total removal of a breast respectively.
What Are the Benefits of Breast Augmentation?
The benefits of enhancing one’s breasts are numerous. This cosmetic procedure can:
- Improve the appearance and fullness of the breasts
- Enlarge naturally small or underdeveloped breasts
- Restore or reconstruct breast size and shape
- Correct asymmetrical or unevenly shaped breasts
- Lift sagging breasts
- Enhance the overall figure
Who is Eligible for Breast Augmentation?
Not all women are eligible for breast enlargement. A suitable candidate is one who:
- Is physically healthy
- Has fully developed breasts (except in the cases of mammary hypoplasia)
- Has unevenly sized or shaped breasts
- Is dissatisfied with the overall appearance of her breasts
- Has realistic expectations of the procedure
Breast augmentation is not recommended for those who:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have a severe or chronic infection or illness
- Have breast cancer
- Have an undiagnosed breast condition
Other factors, including previous breast surgeries, healing capacity and bleeding tendencies, will also be considerations in determining whether a patient is suitable for breast augmentation.
How Is Breast Augmentation Done?
There are two methods by which breast enlargement is achieved, both of which are performed as outpatient procedures without the need for hospitalisation. These are:
For implants, a 3+cm incision is created on one of three areas, either: under the breast (inframammary), within the armpit (axillary) or around the areola (periareolar). The implants will then be inserted either behind the breast tissue or beneath the chest muscle. Breast implants can be filled with either silicone gel or saline. Once the implants are inserted, the short incisions are sutured closed. Augmentation with implants usually takes about an hour.
For women who desire only mild to moderate increase in breast size, or who don’t want implants, an effective solution comes in the form of fat grafting or autologous fat transfer. This procedure involves harvesting fat from another part of the body (usually the tummy or thighs) through liposuction. This fat will be processed for reintroduction to the body, then injected in multiple layers through a 4mm incision beneath the breast. The fat grafting procedure takes about 2 to 4 hours.
How to Prepare for the Procedure
Not much preparation is required prior to breast enlargement surgery. In most cases, patients are only advised to:
- Avoid blood-thinning medication and food supplements at least 2 weeks before the surgery
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs
- Undergo regular health screenings to ensure that they are physically healthy with no significant underlying medical conditions
- Refrain from eating or drinking 8 hours before the surgery
- Prepare loose clothing to wear after the procedure
Due to the drowsy after-effects of anaesthesia and post-surgical pain, patients should also arrange for a trusted friend or relative to accompany them home following discharge.
What Are the Risks of Breast Augmentation?
Breast enhancement, like all surgical procedures, carries potential risks, which include:
- Breast pain
- Changes in breast and nipple sensation
- Implant rupture or leakage
- Capsular contracture (internal scar tissue which causes breasts to feel hard)
- Breast-implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
However, these risks are significantly minimised in the hands of an experienced plastic surgeon.
How Long is the Recovery Time after Breast Augmentation?
The recovery period for breast enlargement greatly depends on the type and complexity of the procedure performed. Most patients are also able to return to work after 2 to 4 days. For both implants and fat transfer, the enhancement is immediately apparent and presentable. Results do take a couple of months to reach their final state.
- Breast Implants
- Fat Transfer / Injection
- Breast Lifts / Mastopexy
- Breast Reduction
- Nipple / Areolar Reduction
- Inverted Nipple Correction