Breast augmentation  surgeries are the classic ‘boob job’ so beloved of the media.   ‘Boob jobs’ are one of the top five popular cosmetic surgeries according to statistics from professional aesthetic surgery boards in the USA and UK  (1, 2).  Women may choose it:

  • to enlarge under developed breasts
  • to enlarge the breasts to create a more proportionate figure
  • to enlarge the size of one breast which is particularly smaller than the other (all breasts are slightly asymmetrical)
  • after pregnancy to enlarge breasts which have lost some size
  • other individual reasons for breast enhancement for more self confidence

The procedure

Patients meet with their surgeon and discuss the exact procedure that is recommended for them. So the information here is very much ‘generally speaking’:

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The operation uses a general anaesthetic, and lasts approximately an hour to an hour and a half. Small incisions tend to be made in the crease underneath the breasts, or sometimes the armpit or lower edge of the areola (the darker circle around the nipple). Then a pocket is created to house the breast implant, either beneath the muscle or beneath breast tissues. Breast implants have a firm silicone elastimer shell, filled with either silicone gel or saline.

Silicone is most commonly used as it is felt to give a softer contour and feel to the new breasts.

Post-surgery, pain relief medication and antibiotics may be required. There may be drainage tubes inserted during the surgery to collect extravasated blood. Generally, the stay in hospital is overnight, and any such tubes are removed the following morning.

(photo: dimshik)

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Discomfort is a definite feature, and women are generally advised to take 1 to 2 weeks off work. Women with children are generally advised to have some help for at least one week with household chores. Bathing and showering is contraindicated for 7 to 14 days, and patients must sleep on their back. Underwire bras are also not allowed for a certain time. Surgeons usually give specific advice on the recovery care for each patient.

Long-term commitment

One major feature of breast enlargement surgery is commitment – this is a long-term commitment rather than a one off surgery.

The lifespan of an implant varies from patient to patient, so a good aftercare relationship with the surgery team is essential (3).

Patients may need to repeat the operation

Take impartial expert advice - the more skilled surgeons routinely operate to correct previous cosmetic surgery (3 )

‘Plastic surgery gone wrong’ stories

The media often carries sensationalist stories of unsuccessful surgeries and risks posed. The truth is, all surgery carries risks, the result are variable by surgeon and by patient. The UK ‘s Department of Health provides a comprehensive guide for women considering breast implant surgery (3), which is a must-read for facts, considerations and advice. The guide contains safety data and information on procedures and materials used and known outcomes. Professional bodies for cosmetic surgery could also offer advice on which qualifications and training the more experienced surgeons should have in your location. Incredibly, worldwide, not all surgeons who practice plastic surgery actually have specialised training in it and some have little experience of certain procedures.

DISCLAIMER: No information here can be used as medical advice or used to make healthcare decision!  Please only consult qualified physicians for advice.

Kath Smith

References:

1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2009. 2008 Female Plastic Surgery Statistics. [online] Illinois:  American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Available at:

http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Media/stats/2008-cosmetic-reconstructive-plastic-surgery-minimally-invasive-statistics.pdf

2. British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. 2009. Cosmetic rates of inflation: male, female breast ops on the rise. [online]. London: British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Available at:

http://www.baaps.org.uk/content/view/453/62/

3. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 2006. Breast Implants: Information for women considering breast implants. London: Department of Health. Available at:

http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Publications/Postersandleaflets/CON2022635

Photo credits:

1 Asterisc21 http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=profile&l=asterisc21

2 Dimshik http://www.sxc.hu/profile/dimshik

3 Lusi http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lusi

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