Breast implants can be used for purely cosmetic reasons – to enhance the size and shape of the breast. They are also used for reconstruction following mastectomy and correcting severe breast asymmetry. It is one of the most popular cosmetic operations carried out in the world.
It’s a common misunderstanding that this is a simple procedure to perform. Breast augmentation involves many complex decisions between you and your surgeon.
- implant type
- positioning of the implants
- incision position
All of these factors have their own pros and cons. The aim of this guide is to help you understand these issues so that you will be happier with the outcome of your surgery.
Things To Consider Before Surgery
Not all women have the same idea about what a good outcome is. It is essential that you know roughy what size you want to be. If you want very large breasts, say so. Only choose a fully trained Consultant Plastic Surgeon.
There are no guarantees that you will achieve the breasts you desire. Common complaints:
- Too small
- Too large
- No cleavage
If you are unable to accept that you may require additional surgery [for complications and changing of breast implants] then you should not have the procedure.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, your implants will interfere with the interpretation of your mammogram. There is however, less interference if the implants are placed behind the pectoral muscle.
Complications do occur. You may be affected.
Types of Breast Implants
All implants have a firm silicone shell. They may be filled with saline or silicone gel.
Your surgeon is there to guide you, not decide for you. They’re idea of a good cosmetic result may be drastically different to yours. This is not a time to be coy. Spell out exactly what you need. Do you want to be in proportion? Do you want large breasts for your build. Do you want small breasts for your size?
Talking in cup sizes is inaccurate. Your surgeon will instead discuss various volumes of implant. They should have sizers that you can try out. This will help to give you an idea of what each volume will look like.
Questions to ask your surgeon:
Do you recommend silicone or saline filled implants?
What volume will give me the result I want?
Should I have the implants placed in front or behind the muscle?
Do you recommend smooth or textured?
Do you recommend round or teardrop?
Where will the incisons be? [Under the breast, around the nipple, in the armpit or through the belly button.]
Is treatment of complications included in the price?
What is the total cost of the surgery?
Breast implant placed behind the pectoral muscle
Expect to stay 1 night.
Surgery is carried out under a general anaesthetic. It takes 1-2 hours.
A drainage tube may be inserted into each breast to drain blood. They will be removed the following day. You will experience momentary discomfort and pulling.
You may need to take a sports bra to wear after the surgery. Some centres provide these for you. You will need to wear this for up to 4 weeks. Check with your surgeon.
Mild to severe pain requiring pain killers occurs for to 2-7 days. Placement behind the muscle is more painful.
Bruising will settle down after 7-10 days.
Swelling occurs over the first 5 days. Don’t panic that your breasts are bigger than expected. This will settle within 2 – 4 weeks.
Temporary numbness may occur. It resolves in the majority of cases within 4 weeks.
You may return to work after 1 week.
Your consultant will review you in clinic at about 2 weeks. Check with them when you can start exercising.
Most plastic surgeons use absorbable stitches which do not need to be removed.
Breast Implants Complications
Haematoma [a collection of blood]. Most common in the first 24 hours. Unless it can be expressed through a drain, surgical drainage in theatre is required.
Infection occurs in less than 1% of patients. Symptoms include: pain, swelling, redness and high temperatures. Treatment requires intravenous antibiotics and removal of the implant. Your surgeon will wait a minimum of 6 months before replacing the implant.
Capsular contraction. All patients develop scar tissue around their implants. Problems occur when this tightens abnormally. The affected breast may harden and become painful. Severe contraction requires excision of the capsule and changing of the implants.
Displacement of the implant – upwards, downwards and away from the midline. Extreme displacement results in asymmetry requiring surgery to reposition.
Deflation of a saline implant – requires surgery to insert a new implant.
Rupture of a silicone implant -requires removal of the capsule and a new implant.
Nipple sensation – may be temporary [settles within 8 weeks] or permanent.
Breast Implants Prices
In the UK expect to spend between £4000 – £7000.
Understand the risks. Be realistic in your goals. Don’t choose your plastic surgeon based on price. Creating an excellent cosmetic outcome takes considerable skill and expertise.