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Breast Augmentation Surgery:
Procedures, Costs, Risks and Recovery

Breast augmentation has quickly become one of the most requested plastic surgeries for women of all ages. Women choose this procedure, which is technically known as augmentation mammoplastym, to enhance breast size, to alter the appearance of breasts that have changed in shape and/or size due to pregnancy, nursing, or excessive weight fluctuations, or to reconstruct after surgery. For many women, breast augmentation not only changes the appearance of their body but also enhances their self-esteem.

All surgical procedures come with risks, and breast augmentation is no different. Some women may develop an infection around the implant, which could result in removal of the implant until the infection has cleared. Others may develop what is known as capsular contracture, which is when the scar or capsule around the implant begins to tighten. This can be fixed by removing the scar tissue or the implant. Implants can rupture, either from an injury or from normal activity, and when this occurs a woman will have to have another surgery done: either to remove the second implant or to replace the one that has ruptured. Also, there are always risks associated with surgery of any type, such as reactions to anesthesia and excessive bleeding. These should be discussed with your surgeon.

Pricing will depend upon where you are located, but can range from $3,500 to $5,000 and upward. Choosing a surgeon is the most important step in the process of breast augmentation, so never make this decision based on the lowest price. As with any surgery, you want to know that you are under the care of a skilled professional. To do this, first ensure that the surgeon you choose is board certified. Since this is a voluntary process, not all surgeons have gone through the rigorous training, which includes completing five years of additional training as a resident surgeon after medical school. After these five years — three of which are spent in a general surgery program and two of which are spent in plastic surgery — the surgeon must complete a set of comprehensive written and oral exams. Some surgeons have furthered their training by passing an additional review, and these surgeons will have the letters F.A.C.S (for Fellows of the American College of Surgeons) after their name.

Surgery is typically done on an outpatient basis, which means you will go home the day of the surgery. Make sure that you have someone to drive. General or local anesthesia may be used, depending on the surgeon and the procedure. The incision might be placed in the armpit, under the breast, or under or above the areola. At this time, saline filled implants are used for most breast augmentation procedures. The shell is made of a hard silicone while the implant itself is filled with saline, or salt water. Should an implant rupture, the saline will be absorbed by the body.

Your surgeon may choose to place the implant behind the breast tissue or underneath the pectoral muscle. The second option offers less wrinkling and can reduce the chance of capsular contracture, but recovery might be a bit more painful. Ask your surgeon which placement he or she suggests and why.

The surgery itself will take up to three hours and afterwards a gauze bandage will be placed over your chest to aid in healing. After approximately a week, the sutures will be removed and the gauze will be replaced with a support bra. Most people can return to work within a few days, though heavy lifting and extreme activity should be avoided for at least a week.

After breast augmentation, unless you experience a rupture or problem, your breasts will likely look the same for quite a long time. Remember, though, that age changes a woman’s body, and the same will happen even to those who have had breast augmentation. If at some point you are no longer satisfied with your look, consult your plastic surgeon for an evaluation.

Article by Kathy Murdock.

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