Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation increases the size of the natural breast and is frequently sought by women who are unhappy with the size of their breasts. The breasts may be of unequal size, may have minimal development, or may have decreased in size after breast-feeding or weight loss. Breast augmentation is quite successful at making the breasts larger and fuller, and often helps women to feel less self-conscious about their breast size.

The Procedure

Prior to the operation, your surgeon will examine you to see if you are suitable for the procedure. Sometimes, alternative procedures may be recommended such as a mastopexy, or breast lift. The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic in a hospital, and patients usually stay one night in hospital.

Breast augmentation consists of making a small incision, creating a pocket in the chest/breast area, and placing an implant into this pocket. The incisions are closed and dressings are applied to the incisions, and antibiotics are typically given before and after the operation to minimise the risk of infection. The incision can be made below the breast, around the areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) or at the armpit. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and your surgeon will discuss these prior to surgery.

The implants can be placed either under the chest muscle, or directly under the breasts, and this will depend on the shape of your breasts, typical activity and possible interference with mammograms. There are different types of implants, and these are usually filled with silicone, saline, or both. Each type of implant has different qualities, and these should be discussed with your surgeon.

Breast augmentation surgery usually takes about one to three hours to complete. The length of the procedure varies according to the technique used, the placement of the implants, the patient's anatomy, and type of anaesthesia used.

After Your Surgery

Following your surgery, you should avoid getting the dressing wet and try to keep arm extension minimal for 3-5 days. You will be able to resume light activities within 7-10 days, however, more strenuous activity should be avoided for 3-4 weeks. A supportive bra should be worn for two to three weeks, and your surgeon will change the dressings after three days and then remove the sutures after a week.

The Long Term Outcome

Breast augmentation reliably increases the size of the breasts and they will remain this way for the life of the implant. Larger breasts in general have a tendency to sag faster, and thus surgery is sometimes sought in later years to correct this sagging. Most often women are very happy with their shapely appearance, feel more confident, and are not as self-conscious about their breast size.

Risks

All surgery carries some risks, which include the possibility of post-operative infection, bleeding, excessive scarring and reaction to the anaesthetic. There are other risks that are more specific to this procedure, and it is important that you talk to your surgeon about the possible complications prior to surgery.

There is no known association of breast implants with breast cancer, and in fact several large studies have shown a lower incidence of breast cancer in women with breast implants. Also, breast augmentation does not usually damage the breast tissue itself and you should still be able to breast-feed after having the operation.

Pre-existing medical conditions can alter the level of risk associated with any procedure, and it is important that you notify your surgeon and anaesthetist of any such problems prior to surgery. It is also important to follow your surgeon's instructions both before, and after, surgery to ensure that these risks are minimised.

Costs

The components that determine the cost of the procedure are the surgical theatre costs, hospital costs, anaesthetic fee and the surgeon's fee. Prices vary widely and depend on; the extent/complexity of the procedure, the physical attributes of individual patients, and the surgeon performing the operation. Breast augmentation typically costs around $12000.

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