Breast Augmentation (or Enlargement)

Breast augmentation (or enlargement) is generally performed on women with underdeveloped breasts or on women who have experienced a decrease in breast size or shape due to pregnancy or weight loss. 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 augmentation 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. Your cosmetic surgeon will discuss the choice of implant, reasons for the selection, and will review with you the size changes that are possible with the procedure.

How is Breast Augmentation Done?

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.

Information on Breast Lift

Also known as mastopexy, the breast lift is performed on women who have experienced sagging or drooping of the breasts. This procedure may be done in conjunction with augmentation. Several different techniques can be used to correct this condition depending on the degree of sagging. 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. Your cosmetic surgeon is trained to help you make the proper decision.

Information on Breast Reduction

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.

Your cosmetic surgeon will discuss the varying methods of breast reduction and explain the technique that may be best suited for you. Because of the adverse symptoms (back, neck, breast and shoulder pain; limitation of activities) associated with abnormally large breasts, insurance will often cover some or all of the cost of this type of surgery. Be sure to check with your insurance provider.

Keeping You Comfortable

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.

How Will I Look After?

You may be required to wear a supportive bra. Your doctor will advise you as to when you may resume normal activity. After healing, your breast augmentation should add pleasing dimensions to your overall proportion and symmetry.

What Are the Risks?

Complications (as with any other surgical procedure) can happen in breast augmentation surgery. We recommend you read the specific complications outlined in the Food and Drug Administration pamphlet. To obtain this free pamphlet, contact the F.D.A. Consumer Information Line at 1.888.INFO.FDA (1 888.463.6332.) The Food and Drug Administration website can be found at . More information on the safety of silicone breast implants can be found at These surgical procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, in the hospital, or in an ambulatory suite under either general or local anesthesia. This brochure is only intended as an introduction to this procedure. It should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed and should not be construed to guarantee the result.

From the American Association of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS)