The surgery consists of
lifting the breast tissue and placing an envelope containing a soft,
natural-feeling implant material underneath.
Although several implants
are available at the present time, the implant which is used most
often for enlargement purposes, is made of a silicone shell, and
filled with a saline solution. Under certain conditions, silicone
gel implants can be used, but these are mostly used for revision
surgery. There are a variety of implant designs, all of which have
advantages and disadvantages. You will need to discuss with the
surgeon the choice of implant, reasons for the selection, and review
the size changes that are possible with the procedure.
The best candidates for
breast augmentation are women who are looking for improvement, not
perfection, in the way they look. If you're physically healthy and
realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.
How is the procedure conducted?
Several different methods
are used for placement of the implants. An incision can be made in
the crease of the lower part of the breast, along the lower half of
the dark skin around the nipple or in the armpit. All of these
methods are designed to result in minimal scarring so that the
incisions are not easily detected. After the incision is made, the
implant is carefully inserted either under the breast tissue or
beneath the chest muscle. The implants are then adjusted to ideal
size and symmetry before the incision is sutured closed.
Breast enlargement is
relatively straightforward. But as with any operation, there are
risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated
with this procedure.
The most common problem,
capsular contracture, occurs if the scar or capsule around the
implant begins to tighten. This squeezing of the soft implant can
cause the breast to feel hard. Capsular contracture can be treated
in several ways, and sometimes requires either removal or "scoring"
of the scar tissue, or perhaps removal or replacement of the
As with any surgical
procedure, excessive bleeding following the operation may cause some
swelling and pain. If excessive bleeding continues, another
operation may be needed to control the bleeding and remove the
A small percentage of women
develop an infection around an implant. This may occur at any time,
but is most often seen within a week after surgery. In some cases,
the implant may need to be removed for several months until the
infection clears. A new implant can then be inserted.
Some women report that their
nipples become oversensitive, undersensitive, or even numb. You may
also notice small patches of numbness near your incisions. These
symptoms usually disappear within time, but may be permanent in some
implants may break or leak. Rupture can occur as a result of injury
or even from the normal compression and movement of your breast and
implant, causing the man-made shell to leak. If a saline-filled
implant breaks, the implant will deflate in a few hours and the salt
water will be harmlessly absorbed by the body.
If a break occurs in a
gel-filled implant, however, one of two things may occur. If the
shell breaks but the scar capsule around the implant does not, you
may not detect any change. If the scar also breaks or tears,
especially following extreme pressure, silicone gel may move into
surrounding tissue. The gel may collect in the breast and cause a
new scar to form around it, or it may migrate to another area of the
body. There may be a change in the shape or firmness of the breast.
Both types of breaks may require a second operation and replacement
of the leaking implant. In some cases, it may not be possible to
remove all of the silicone gel in the breast tissue if a rupture
Sometimes large, heavy breasts can be painful due to excessive
weight and often cause problems such as back pain and soreness in
the shoulders from bra straps which cut into the skin. Breast
reduction surgery involves removal of excess breast tissue in
combination with reshaping of the breast. The incisions are similar
to those used for more extensive breast lifts.
A surgical dressing is usually placed to protect the incisions. Some
swelling, bruising and minor discomfort may be experienced for
several days after the surgery. Discomfort can be easily controlled
with pain medication.
The best candidates for
mastopexy are healthy women who are realistic about what the surgery
can accomplish. The best results are usually achieved in women with
small, sagging breasts. Breasts of any size can be lifted, but the
results may not last as long in heavy breasts.
Many women seek breast lift
(also called mastopexy ) because pregnancy and nursing have
left them with stretched skin and less volume in their breasts.
However, if you're planning to have more children, it may be a good
idea to postpone your breast lift. While there are no special risks
that affect future pregnancies (for example, mastopexy usually
doesn't interfere with breast-feeding), pregnancy is likely to
stretch your breasts again and offset the results of the procedure.
Surgery consists of removing excess skin from around the areola and
from the bottom of the breast and rearranging the skin of the breast
to tighten the skin envelope. In doing so, the position of the
nipple and areola can be elevated to a more natural position.
The surgery is designed to
minimize scarring. Some patients who seek breast enlargement
actually will need a breast lift for the most desirable result.
A breast lift is not a
simple operation, but it's normally safe when performed by a
qualified plastic surgeon. Nevertheless, as with any surgery, there
is always a possibility of complications or a reaction to the
anesthesia. Bleeding and infection following a breast lift are
uncommon, but they can cause scars to widen. You can reduce your
risks by closely following your physician's advice both before and
Mastopexy does leave
noticeable, permanent scars, although they'll be covered by your bra
or bathing suit. (Poor healing and wider scars are more common in
smokers.) The procedure can also leave you with unevenly positioned
nipples, or a permanent loss of feeling in your nipples or breasts.