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Breast Augmentation Surgery - Procedure, Risk And Recovery

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Breast Augmentation Surgery - Procedure, Risk And Recovery

General Surgery | Posted on 05/12/2021 by RBH

Breast Augmentation surgery also referred to as augmentation mammoplasty is a surgical method to increase the size of the breasts by inserting saline or silicone implants. These implants are inserted behind the breast tissue or the chest muscle to fulfil either of the below purposes:

  • Enlarge naturally small breasts
  • Reshape and restore the size of breasts post-pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Restore the size of the breasts after weight loss
  • Repair the breasts post-surgery
  • Correct the symmetry of the breasts

Breast augmentation surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and takes about 60-90 minutes. It is a very important decision and hence, must be taken after careful consideration and evaluation of all risks, procedures, after-effects and recovery process. 

Risks of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breast augmentation surgery can involve various risks and complications; some of these include:

  • Pain in the breasts
  • Infection
  • Modifications in the nipple
  • Damage to nerves of the nipples (this can make the nipples more or less sensitive or can completely lose feeling)
  • Sensation in the breasts
  • Leakage from the implants
  • Rupture of implants
  • Distortion of the breast shape due to scar tissue
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tight feeling in the chest (this may last for a few weeks)
  • Thick, noticeable scarring
  • Hardening of the breast tissue
  • Prominent creases or folds in the implants
  • Inability to breastfeed or produce less milk comparatively
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Allergic reaction to anaesthesia
  • Blood clots in veins

In some rare cases, women also become highly prone to develop a special type of cancer which affects the immune system cells and is called the anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). Different implants come with varied risks; hence, it is very important to evaluate all risks and advantages before breast augmentation surgery.

In case, a patient experiences any of the above risks, there might be a need to perform another surgery to correct the risk or remove or replace the implants. In some cases, the results of the surgery might not be as per expectations leading to the dissatisfaction of the patient; in some cases as these, people do consider another breast augmentation surgery.

Procedure for Breast Augmentation Surgery

Before the patient proceeds with the surgery, a detailed discussion regarding the expectation and needs of the surgery will be discussed with the surgeon. Depending on the preference of size, feel and shape of the breasts, the suitable implants will be suggested – smooth or textured, round or teardrop-shaped, or saline or silicone. Moreover, the surgical method will be discussed in detail. Before the surgery, the following points should be considered:

  • The implants will not prevent sagging
  • Implants have a specific life, and they do not last forever
  • The surgery might hamper breastfeeding

The doctor will also advise you to refrain from certain specific medications and activities such as smoking to ensure the procedure is successful. A breast augmentation surgery is conducted in a surgical centre, and the patient is discharged on the same day in most cases. The surgical procedure is under the influence of general or local anaesthesia (depending on the case) and lasts for about 90 minutes.

To place the implants, the surgeon will make an incision in any of these places:

  • Crease under the breast
  • Under the arm
  • Are around the nipple

Once that is done, the surgeon will then divide the breast tissue from the muscles and the connective chest tissue. This step is done to create a small pocket in the outermost chest wall muscle (in front or behind); the surgeon then places the implants in this pocket and sets them correctly with the nipple placed in the centre. In the case of saline implants, the implants are inserted empty and then filled with sterile water, while in the case of silicone implants, the implants are pre-filled with silicone. Once the implants are appropriately placed and have set in well, the surgeon closes the incision with sutures. 

Recovery after a Breast Augmentation Surgery

Post the surgery, the patient might experience some soreness or swelling in the area; some other issues such as pain and bruising are also quite common. These tend to fade away automatically; however, there may be some scars that might fade but not disappear completely.

The recovery process after a breast augmentation surgery is not very long but requires attentive care and certain precautions. One must wear a compression bandage or a well-fitted sports bra to provide extra support to the new implants. The doctor might prescribe certain medications as well to improvise healing and reduce pain if any.

Careful consideration must be taken before returning to normal activities, and the same should be discussed with the doctor. However, in general cases, it might take a few weeks to resume everyday functioning completely. During the recovery period, all types of physically strenuous activities are to be avoided, since they can raise the blood pressure or pulse. Moreover, during this time, physical contact and sudden movements should be avoided since the breasts will be really sensitive.

In cases, where the sutures do not dissolve on their own post-surgery, a follow-up appointment will be needed. Also, if the surgery was followed by placing drainage tubes near the breasts, another appointment to remove the tube will be required.

That said, it is very critical to be alert for any abnormal symptoms or risk factors that can possibly cause a lot of harm. In case there is any doubt or concern, the doctor should be contacted immediately.