aka: boob job, breast enlargement, implants, breast implants, mammoplasty enlargement, augmentation mammoplasty.
What is breast augmentation?
The most popular cosmetic operation, breast augmentation increases the shape and size of the bust with a synthetic implant surgically inserted behind the breast.
What are implants made of?
All breast implants are made of an outer layer of silicone and are filled with either silicone, sterile sea water (saline) or both. The silicone used to fill implants can be either liquid or gel.
Liquid silicone and saline implants give a more natural feel, while gel silicone gives a firmer feel but is available in a wider range of shapes.
There are all kinds of implants that adapt to all body shapes. For example, rounded implants add volume to the upper part of the breast for lift, while pear-shaped implants separate the breasts and make them look more youthful.
It’s important to discuss the shape and appearance of implants with your surgeon. Surgeon's will typically give you an implant to feel and provide you with a special bra so you can try out the implants and see how they look during the consultation.
How much does breast augmentation cost?
Expect to pay around £5,000.
Risks and side effects
There are risks linked to the anaesthesic (shock and allergies), local infections of the scarred area and swelling.
Capsular contracture may also occur. This is the body’s reaction to the implant. It causes abnormal scar tissue to form around the implant.
If this happens, the implant will become hard and visible, there will be painful swelling and the breast will lose its suppleness.
If the operation goes wrong or if the result is asymmetrical breasts (one of the breasts higher or bigger than the other), the procedure will have to be repeated.
Most silicone implants are now guaranteed for up to 10 years but some don’t last very long at all. Between 25 and 40 per cent of women who get breast implants end up needing revisional surgery.
Reduced sensation of breast skin and nipple usually improves over months but is occasionally permanent.
Implants can leak or crack – either due to ageing of the implant or trauma to the breast. Silicon gel and saline are non-toxic so there’s no need to panic! It will requirie replacement surgery though.
Numbness and loss of sensation is a common side effect, and in particularly large breasts this may be permanent.
The other (non-medical) risk is that big boobs might be going out of fashion, (blame Keira Knightley if you want), “they’re so 80’s” said one Hollywood insider.
The best medical precaution is to thoroughly research your surgeon’s credentials and take all the post op advice seriously.
Can I still breastfeed?
Yes. The "slicing off the nipple" thing is a myth. Even if your implants are inserted via the nipple, the surgeons will leave everything required for milk production and delivery in place.
A word of caution though. If you hope to get pregnant, don't go too large with your implants as this can put a lot of strain on your breast tissue as your breasts naturally expland.
When will I see results?
Immediately. However, you'll need to wait 6 months after the operation to see the true shape and size of your new breasts.
6 months is about how long it takes for glandular and epidermal tissues to have adapted to the new shape of your breasts.
Breast Augmentation - Expert Opinion
Consultant Plastic Surgeon
Secretary of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)
“Most women should be able to have a natural looking breast enhancement and this is achieved by selecting the most appropriate technique of implant placement (above or below the muscle, or possibly the “dual plane” technique which achieves more lift) as well as implant choice.
"Previously the only choice was round implants which look dome shaped but recently the choice has expanded to include anatomical (“tear drop” shaped) implants which come in a range of widths, heights and projections to allow a bespoke approach to breast augmentation. I think it is also important to mention that achieving natural looking surgery is also an artistic skill which is down to the experience and ability of the surgeon.”
- Stay safe by asking your surgeon the right questions when you first go for a consulation.
- Educate yourself on the risks.
- Talk to girls who've already been through surgery in our cosmetic surgery forums.
Contact either the British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons (BACS) or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).
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