Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure aimed at increasing the size, shape, and fullness of the breasts. It involves inserting a silicone, saline, or composite implant under the chest muscles.
On average, implants last between seven and 12 years.
In the United States, there were nearly 280,000 breast augmentation surgeries performed in 2015. The popularity of breast implants appears to be on the rise. Compared to the year 2000, the number of breast implant surgeries performed in 2015 represents a 31 percent increase.
Why Choose Breast Augmentation?
The procedure is often done to enlarge the size of naturally small breasts. In addition, some women may opt to get breast implants after significant life events, for instance, when breast shape and/or size has been affected by breastfeeding, pregnancy, and/or weight loss. Women with asymmetrical breasts may decide to undergo a breast augmentation procedure in one breast to restore symmetry. Finally, women who’ve undergone other types of surgery—such as mastectomy—may opt for breast augmentation surgery afterwards.
Breast augmentation is a type of plastic surgery that may use both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery techniques. For instance, in the case of women who’ve had part or all of their breast removed as part of their breast cancer treatment, the surgery is reconstructive. For other women, the surgery is purely cosmetic and done for aesthetic purposes. The latter is more common. Some studies have found that the surgery can boost women’s self-esteem and improve their feelings towards their sexuality.
Types of Implants
Breast implants are prostheses that are placed inside the breast to augment or reconstruct the breast. There are three main types of implants:
- Saline implants. Filled with a sterile, saline solution similar to salt water, these implants are enclosed in a silicone shell. The silicone shell can be filled to different levels in order to affect the shape and feel of the breast. Should they leak, the saline solution can be expelled naturally.
- Silicone gel implants. Similar to saline implants, this type of implant also includes a silicone outer shell. However, the inside is also filled with silicone gel. Silicone leakage can pose certain problems, and in some cases, the implant may collapse. Patients who opt for silicone implants are recommended to have their implants checked by their doctor on a regular basis.
- Alternative composite implants. Other materials sometimes used for breast augmentation include soy oil and polypropylene string.
The Surgery: What To Expect
Breast augmentation is a serious surgical procedure. Those considering it should think carefully before they decide to get the procedure done. Prior to surgery, a plastic surgeon will work with the patient to choose the desired size of the implant. In some cases, this involves trying out different-sized implants inside a bra to see how it feels to have breasts of that size.
During surgery, people are typically put under to ensure the patient is asleep for the duration of the procedure. In rare cases, a ttopical numbing agent is used and the patient remains awake.
The procedure involves making an incision, inserting and placing the implant, and finally, closing the incision. At first, incision scars will be visible. These usually fade over time.