Breast augmentation is a plastic surgery procedure in which breast implants are inserted beneath the chest muscles or breast tissue to enhance the size or shape of the breasts. 

There are two main types of breast implants used in breast augmentation: silicone breast implants and saline breast implants.

Silicone breast implants have a silicone shell that is filled with silicone gel. Silicone breast implants are FDA approved for women age 22 and older.

Saline breast implants have a silicone shell that is filled with saline solution. Saline breast implants are FDA approved for women age 18 and older.

  • Is Breast Augmentation Right for You?

    According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you may be a good candidate for breast augmentation if:

    • You are in good physical health, with no active infections or serious illness
    • You do not smoke
    • You understand the risks associated with the surgery (more about risks can be found later in this article)
    • You are at least 18 years old (if you want saline implants) or at least 22 years old (if you want silicone implants)
    • You would like larger breasts, or would like to make breasts more even in size
    • You would like to restore breast fullness after pregnancy
    • You think breast augmentation would improve your confidence and you have realistic expectations regarding the results

    You may not be a good candidate for breast augmentation if:

    • You have breast cancer or have had an irregular mammogram
    • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • You are fighting an infection or serious illness 
  • Average Cost of Breast Augmentation 

    The average cost of breast augmentation surgery is around $3,800, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. However, breast augmentation costs can vary widely, depending on the type of implants used, your surgeon’s experience, your location, and other factors.

  • Before the Procedure

    Before you can schedule your breast augmentation, you should first get a consultation from a surgeon. The consultation is a time for your surgeon to get to know you and learn what your expectations are regarding your breast augmentation. 

    During the consultation, you and your doctor will talk about your medical history and risk factors,  and go over any medical conditions you have that could put you at risk of complications. During your breast augmentation consultation, your provider may also:

    • Examine and measure your breasts
    • Take photographs
    • Go over your options with you, including implant type, positioning, and incision location

    The consultation is also a time for you to ask questions and learn as much as you can about the procedure so you are fully prepared for your surgery. Some questions you may want to ask your surgeon are listed below. 

    6 Questions to Ask During Your Consultation

    𐀳 Am I a good candidate for breast augmentation surgery?

    𐀳 Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons?

    𐀳 Do you have before and after photographs I can see?

    𐀳 What will be expected of me to achieve the best results?

    𐀳 How long of a recovery time can I expect?

    𐀳 What are the risks and complications associated with breast augmentation?

  • During the Procedure

    Breast augmentation is typically performed as an outpatient procedure (which means you’ll go home the same day), and usually takes 1-2 hours to complete. 

    Your breast augmentation may be done during general anesthesia (you’ll be asleep during the procedure), or it may be done during local anesthesia (you’ll be awake and your breast area will be numbed). Your surgeon will discuss your options with you and you can decide together which is best for you. 

    During the breast augmentation, your surgeon will make an incision in one of the following areas to insert the implants:

    • Under your arm
    • Around your nipple
    • In the crease under your breast

    Once the implant is in place, your surgeon will stitch up the incision and bandage it with skin adhesive and surgical tape.

  • After the Procedure

    Although you may feel sore for up to two weeks after your breast augmentation, most patients recover quickly after the procedure. 

    According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, “If your breast implants are placed partially beneath the pectoral muscle–the preferred method in most cases–your breasts may seem to sit high on the chest at first. This is normal, and your implants will settle into their optimal position over the next several weeks, with final results after a couple of months.” 

    As with any medical procedure, it is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions after your breast augmentation. For instance, your surgeon may ask that you do not exercise or smoke in the weeks following your procedure, or they may request that you wear a specific kind of bra. Whatever the case, following your surgeon’s aftercare instructions can help ensure you heal quickly and avoid complications.

  • Risks and Complications

    Some pain or discomfort following breast augmentation surgery is normal and can last up to a few weeks after the procedure. 

    However, pain that lasts longer than a few weeks could be a sign of a complication. Some common complications related to breast augmentation include:

    • Hardening of the breast tissue
    • Scarring that does not fade over time
    • A rupture that causes the implant to leak and cause small lumps in the breast to form
    • Rotation of the implant
    • Infection
    • Nerve damage
    • Creases or folds in the implant

    Less common complications can include:

    • An allergic reaction to the anesthetic
    • Blood clots
    • Excessive bleeding during surgery
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I still get a mammogram if I have breast implants?

    Yes, you can still get a mammogram if you have breast implants. However, it’s possible that breast implants can make the mammogram images harder to see, so be sure to tell your doctor that you have had breast augmentation surgery.

    Will breast augmentation affect my ability to breastfeed?

    In most cases, no. Since breast augmentation surgery does not involve the areas of the breast involved in milk production, you should be able to breastfeed just fine.

    How long do breast implants last?

    The average saline or silicone breast implant can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. However, it may be time for replacement implants or to have them removed if you experience any of the following:

    • Leakage or deflation from an implant
    • Hardening around one or both of the implants (this is known as capsular contracture)
    • An uneven appearance of the breasts
    • Numbness, tingling, swelling, or burning around the breast
    • Sagging breasts or a change in the overall appearance of them

    When can I return to normal activities after my breast augmentation?

    The recovery time needed for breast augmentation is relatively short, with some people feeling good enough to return to work within a week. Whatever the case may be, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to caring for yourself after your surgery.