Breast Augmentation: Incision Options, Best Bra Types, Recovery, and More
Loved by some and frowned upon by others, breast augmentation is still a strongly intended cosmetic procedure today. It started gaining popularity back in 2000 and although it lost momentum for a while, it is now back in vogue. The number of women who have agreed to go under the knife to get a more beautiful and youthful chest profile has increased dramatically for the past decade.
If you are reading this, then chances are you are wondering whether to take the plunge or not. To aid in the decision-making process, here is a rundown on the procedure, i.e. everything there is to know about it that is in your best interest. Keep scrolling.
What is Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation is a treatment that uses different techniques to enhance the breasts so they appear fuller, bigger, and perkier. There are two methods currently in use: surgical and non-surgical breast augmentation, a.k.a. fat grafting. It is worth mentioning that breast augmentation may or may not involve a breast lift. That will depend on the individual’s body type and desires.
Most typically dubbed a cosmetic surgery, the treatment is sometimes considered plastic surgery. This occurs in specific cases. Take for instance breast reconstruction following mastectomy. And lastly, it should be pointed out that breast augmentation is the opposite of breast reduction.
Here are the two main approaches to it.
Breast implants for breast augmentation
The surgical way to obtain bigger boobs involves round or teardrop-shaped prostheses called implants. Various types of breast implants are distinguished. For the most part, they are either entirely made of silicone (silicone implants) or their insides contain sodium chloride (saline implants).
Full-blown silicone-gel implants are most welcome due to their natural feel and appearance. They are sturdy and long-lasting. Yet, they bear more risks to the patient. If the gel seeps out of the shell and into the adjacent areas, it can cause complications.
Saline implants are more often than not inserted empty into the breast tissue only to be filled when they are perfectly set in place. If they rupture, everything will be all right because the liquid is safe for the body. It will be absorbed and flushed out eventually.
There also are gummy bear implants. Compared with normal silicone implants, they are thicker and contribute to a more natural breast appearance. What is distinct about them is their shape: they look like teardrops. Not to mention, they are firmer, resembling what feels like a young woman’s chest. Another feature is their capacity to retain their shape better.
Just so you know, the perfect candidates should be at least 18 or 22 years old, respectively for saline implants and silicone implants.
Fat transfer for breast enlargement
With this intervention, fat is harvested from an area where it happens to be in excess (such as the buttocks or abdomen) and injected in the breasts. The cosmetic or plastic surgeon works with the patient’s own tissue, which decreases the risk of complications and infection. The fat is collected in a procedure called liposuction. It requires some sort of preparation on both the person’s part and on the team’s part.
This treatment aims to change proportion and enhance the volume of the bust a tad bit. It does not work for women who want large breasts. What fat transfer can achieve is natural breasts that are only slightly bigger.
It is a superb choice over breast implants for patients looking to go bigger by just one cup or to even asymmetrical breasts out.
With that said, the procedure is not suitable for everyone. First, you need to match the above expectations – like wanting to keep a natural profile. And second, you have to be 12 to 22 lbs (5-10 kg) above your ideal weight. If you don’t have sufficient fat resources, the intervention is not going to happen.
Fat graft is done less often than breast implants. For this and other reasons, the article will centre on breast augmentation with implants.
Breast Augmentation Incisions Sites
A typical breast enhancement makes a cut in the crease below the breast which is known as the inframammary fold. This creates a pocket that is large enough for the surgeon to insert the breast implants. Because the openings are cut under the breast tissue, the scars remain out of sight but are present when the person is lying down.
Some doctors choose another route of work. They opt for the areola (periareolar incision) or the armpit (transaxillary incision) with the sole purpose of making the scar less visible.
What plays a part in the decision of where to insert the implants is mostly the individual features of a woman’s body. For example, some areolas are bigger than others. The type of implant to use is of the essence as well. A silicone gel implant can fit into a 4-centimetre incision whereas a saline one does not need so much space to be injected.
In the past, surgeons went for the umbilical incision but it only worked for saline implants. The method entailed inserting a long metal tube at the navel to facilitate the breast implant placement. It also involved a blind dissection technique. All this led to doctors gradually abandoning the method. It is hardly ever used.
Breast Implant Positioning
Breast augmentation is no walk in the park. There are many things to consider including where they should be placed.
A total of two muscles lie in the chest, just under the breast, and they are called pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The former comes in the shape of a fan and is a little bit longer than the latter. It sits above the pectoralis minor.
When placing the implants, surgeons take one of two approaches: to work under the pectoralis major muscle (but above the minor one) or above it.
Under the muscle
- Since the muscle will overlay the further-up section of the implant, it can give the bust a more natural look in thin women
- It lowers the risk of capsular contracture by 10%
- The shape of the breasts will quickly change during exercise or other arduous physical activities which is a drawback
- It can make recovery longer and more uncomfortable; swelling will be more evident
Over the muscle
- Breast augmentation recovery is easier and faster
- Women with a B cup size or up will get fantastic results with this particular implant placement
- There is a greater probability that capsular contracture will occur
- In thin women, the upper edge of the breast implant can be seen more easily which creates a less natural effect
Recovery of Breast Augmentation Surgery
Reminding yourself that breast augmentation is basically plastic surgery, it is vital to understand that the recovery process will be long and uncomfortable. Your body will need time to recuperate and go back to normal. This means you ought to steer clear of intense physical activity, rest more, and try not to pop your stitches. In no way should you get the wound wet, as it may lead to infection.
Now, it is impossible to give an exact timeframe of your recovery because every person heals at a different speed and some other factors are drawn in too. You just have to listen to your body as well as your doctor’s advice.
Here is what to expect after your breast augmentation surgery:
Right after the cosmetic surgery, you will be tired and drowsy from the anaesthesia. Your mouth will be dry and you will not feel like your normal self. That is okay. It is a matter of hours before these effects go away. You have to arrange for a ride home because, given the circumstances, it will be impossible to get there on your own.
You will experience discomfort and even pain in the treatment area, the extent to which will vary from person to person. The first three days are usually the hardest but it is anything but unbearable. Ask your doctor for some medication if you can’t tolerate the pain. After that period is over, the discomfort gets less intense and can be tackled with some over-the-counter meds.
If you are eager to go back to work, you should be able to do so at the end of the first week. Do keep in mind that you will need another two weeks off if your job involves jarring physical activity.
Week 2 onwards
As you start to feel much better, you are encouraged to gently introduce yourself to your normal regimen. Try not to rush it. Take baby steps. You can engage in more walking but do avoid workouts, horseback riding, and running. Ask a friend or relative to do the shopping and any heavy lifting for you.
As you approach week four following your breast augmentation treatment, you are free to return to your labour-intensive job. Just ensure that you get your doctor’s consent first.
Tips to Reduce Swelling after Breast Augmentation
The best way to go about this unpleasant process is to resort to good old ice packs. Applying cold around the affected region will not only numb the area, thus dealing with discomfort, but also reduce inflammation. Do your best to stay away from the nipples or the incision site when you are performing this ritual because it may do more harm than good. You want to keep the cold packs around the inflamed parts rather than put them directly on.
Additional tips for after your breasts augmentation:
- Drink lots of fluids, mostly water and fresh juice; avoid fizzy drinks
- Sleep upright 5-6 days in a row
- Get as much rest as possible
- Eschew raising your arms high/above your head
Best Bra for Post Breast Augmentation Surgery
You will receive specific instructions from your doctor on how to care for your new, augmented breasts after plastic surgery. It is different for everyone. Some specialists advise patients to leave the surgical site alone during the first few days while others recommend the usage of certain bras.
In any case, you should not wear a traditional bra with underwires and all. Leave that for after you heal. A normal bra can interfere with the breast implants, preventing them from settling correctly.
Here are your options. But before you pick any of those, do consult a board-certified plastic surgeon on the matter of wearing post-op bras.
Immediately after your augmentation procedure, the staff will probably have you wear a post-surgical compression called lipoelastic bra. It will provide the necessary support without exposing you to any risks. These garments can reduce bruising and quicken healing. The fabric has the ability to wick away the sweat which helps to keep bacterial growth and infection at bay.
This type of bra is suitable for after your incision areas have healed completely. Once you are ready to move on with your life, you will have to purchase new bras. Plunge-style ones are the way to go because they have shorter underwires – a feature you will greatly appreciate after your augmentation surgery – and are able to fit better. It is the perfect solution for firmer and fuller boobs.
Bra with expandable cups
There are certain companies that design their products to adjust easily to any shape and size. Fully customizable, these are wireless and seamless, making the ideal post-surgical bras. The best part about them is that their cups can expand and the front closure is adjustable.
Nighttime wear after breast augmentation
Some brands offer seamless anti-gravity bras for nighttime wear. They come in a breathable fabric that grants both comfort and support. The design is lightweight so that you can barely feel it when it’s on. This is especially important when you are sleeping. The bra can maintain the shape and keep the breasts elevated.
Cost for Breast Implants
The price tag is quite variable from region to region. Depending on your country of residence per se, the treatment could run between $5,000 and $10,000. For the most part, it will not go through with your insurance company because of it being claimed a cosmetic procedure, i.e. something that is not medically necessary.
Now, if you are about to have breast augmentation following mastectomy (often dubbed breast reconstruction), things may be a bit different. In that case, you should speak to your health care provider about your options. There might be the possibility of your health care system covering part of the expenses.
All things considered, you will be entitled to paying for the doctor’s fees or the implants, or all of the above. This is why before you head into this journey, make certain you have a proper savings account.
Questions & Answers on Breasts Implants
Let us finish off with some frequently-asked questions.
Q: Following breast augmentation surgery, how long should I sleep on the back?
A: If you want the best results possible, you have to commit to sleeping on your back for the next eight or twelve weeks post-op. This is the most suitable position for healing as it doesn’t apply direct pressure on the chest. An even better option is to elevate the head, shoulders, and back a little more than you would normally do.
Q: How long after breast enhancement can revision be performed?
A: Some women are not completely satisfied with the end results, in which case they can schedule a revision surgery to have the problem areas fixed. Mind you that this can be done at least half a year after the original procedure. You have to allow enough time for the skin to heal.
Not to mention, it will take several weeks for the implants to take on their final shape, which will change the outcomes. If you don’t love your new breasts right after the treatment, it may be because the effects still haven’t shown through in full.
Q: Do I have a say in the decision about breast implant types?
A: Of course. The breast augmentation doctor will evaluate your physical features and advise on the best product to stick with but the decision is yours to make.
Q: What are the risks of breast augmentation?
A: Every surgery carries risk, whether it is performed for medical or cosmetic reasons. Anaesthesia alone has multiple side effects. Taking the whole procedure into account, in rare cases, patients can experience bleeding, poor scarring, implant leakage, etc.
Talk to several plastic surgeons about your safety before booking an appointment. They will measure your risk of getting any of these based on your medical history and relative health status.
Also, don’t leave anything to chance. Find yourself a board-certified plastic surgeon that is capable and experienced. Your health is in your hands.
Q: Can I breastfeed after breast augmentation?
A: Since breast augmentation does not interfere with those areas in your chest responsible for milk production, it is possible to breastfeed after the surgery. In most cases, the milk ducts remain intact. Of course, that depends on the incision site and other factors. Making cuts too close to the nipple area may impact the milk supply negatively afterward, especially if it gets to the letdown reflexes.
The problem with this is that you don’t know whether your ability to breastfeed has been hampered until you have to do it.
It is important to know that some breasts don’t develop that well during puberty, which renders them unable to produce much milk regardless of the presence or absence of breast augmentation.