What is Breast Augmentation?
To ‘augment’ is to increase the size or value of something by adding to it. Are large breasts valuable? ‘Hell yes!’ husbands and lovers around the globe might shout, and their wives and girlfriends might well agree, but breast augmentation or 'augmentation mammoplasty' is a serious surgical procedure. Part of what’s affectionately known under the umbrella nickname ‘mommy makeover,’ along with a breast lift, breast reconstruction, breast reduction, tummy tuck and liposuction.
Breast Augmentation Procedure: Why and How
A women may opt for breast augmentation if she wants to:
- Increase physical self-confidence and improve her breasts’ overall appearance
- Restore her breasts to their former condition after weight-loss, ageing, or pregnancy
- Restore symmetry to her breasts after breast surgery for other conditions
With the patient under a general anaesthetic, the surgeon makes one of three types of incision previously agreed on with the patient, either an ‘inframammary’ which is in the crease under the breast, an ‘axillary,’ under the arm, or a ‘periareolar,’around the nipples. Following the incision the surgeon creates a pocket by separating the breast tissue from the connective and muscle tissue of the chest in which he inserts a breast implant, centring it behind the nipple. Once satisfactorily placed, the incision is stitched shut and bandaged with skin adhesive and surgical tape.
The two most popular types of breast implants are saline and silicone implants. Saline breast implants are inserted empty and then filled with sterile salt water. Silicone has a more natural feel, and saline implants can wrinkle or occasionally burst, but if they do the body easily absorbs the saline solution. Silicone implants are pre-filled with a sticky silicone gel, often preferred by women for that tactile naturalness, and they have less chance of bursting. Though if they do the escaped gel can cause lumpiness in parts of the breast which may require corrective surgery.
Recovery and Results
There may be soreness and swelling around the breasts for a few weeks following surgery. As with any invasive procedure there’s also the possibility of bruising. Absorbable or dissolvable stitches generally dissolve after six weeks, while scars will fade gradually though they won’t disappear completely. The surgeon’s advice should be followed closely to speed a complete recovery and it’s important to be aware that during healing the breasts will be extra-sensitive.
The end result of breast augmentation depends on various factors, such as the type and dimensions of the breast implants chosen, as well as a woman’s overall body shape. But women are generally very upbeat about their new mammarial profile, with ninety-eight per cent of American women reporting high satisfaction rates, in a study published in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2013 (1). Those interviewed spoke of physical satisfaction with their new shape as well as greater self-esteem, confidence, and an increase in their quality of life.
Making the Most of Mastopexy
As most of us over thirty know, time waits for no man, or woman, and after a successful augmentation operation breasts, along with the rest of the body, are as prone to time’s jealous hand as before. The sagging continues, weight gain or weight loss will have their effect too, and further surgery may need to be considered.
Mastopexy, the medical term for a breast lift, is similar to a breast augmentation procedure but it concentrates on the areola, the coloured area around the nipple, from which an incision is made down to the crease of the breast. The surgeon then lifts and reshapes the breast, removing any excess skin, and relocates the areolas in their new position. After mastopexy many women are thrilled with sprightlier, more youthful-looking breasts.
Mastopexy can be combined with breast augmentation and has become increasingly popular among American women, particularly after pregnancy when a woman’s breasts can lose shape and mass after the rigours of birth and breastfeeding. One major advantage with combining the two is that a smaller, or less heavier implant is needed, as the breast lift raises the breasts and gives them better shape.
Are there Alternatives to Surgical Breast Augmentation?
Surgery is, without a doubt, the most effective method of breast augmentation. But the next best alternative is called ‘fat grafting.’ Rather like a male hair transplant, fat is taken from areas in which it’s plentiful - from the abdomen or inner thigh usually - and implanted where it’s sparse: the breasts. Once regarded with skepticism, fat grafting now has the approval of the American Society of Plastic surgeons as a means of cosmetically enhancing, not only the breasts, but face, hands, feet, hips and buttocks.
There are certain devices on the market, such as vacuum bras, which work on the principle of ‘tissue expansion,’ the suction cups in the bra exerting pressure and stretching the breast tissue in order to promote expansion at a cellular level. Some surgeons do use a vacuum technique to stretch the breast skin in preparation for surgery, but whether vacuum bras, which have to be worn for around sixteen hours a day for up to ten weeks work effectively has yet to be clinically established.
Botox may give the breasts a temporary lift, and there are an increasing number of ‘breast firming creams’ and other supplements on the market, which may, at the most, improve breast skin texture, but, skepticism is always the best policy here. And, safety first: a woman should always consult a certified practitioner before spending hard-earned money on two of her most precious assets.
(1) 'Breast Augmentation Patients Report High Satisfaction Rates' on
1st May 2013, viewed 26th February 2020
'Mastopexy' (Breast Lift) on
Updated May 25th 2017, Viewed February 26th 2020
'Combining a Breast Lift with breast implants' on:
December 5th 2017, Viewed 26th February 2020
'Alternatives to Breast Augmentation' on
Viewed 26th February 2020
'Breast Augmentation' on
August 10th 2018, Viewed on February 26th 2020