Breast augmentation or “breast enlargement” is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman’s breasts. At the Duke Aesthetics Center, our expert physicians and staff will guide you through the procedure, offering help and advice every step of the way.
This surgery can improve the body contour of a woman who feels her breasts are too small by increasing the bustline by one or more bra cup sizes.
Breast augmentation may also be used to correct a reduction in breast volume after pregnancy or weight loss, to balance a difference in breast size, or simply as a reconstructive follow-up on breast surgery.
The method of inserting and positioning your implant will depend on your anatomy and your surgeon's recommendation.
The incision can be made either in the crease where the breast meets the chest, around the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple), or in the armpit.
Every effort will be made to assure that the incision is placed so resulting scars will be as inconspicuous as possible.
Working through the incision, the surgeon will lift your breast tissue and skin to create a pocket, either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath your chest wall muscle (the pectoral muscle). The implants are then centered beneath your nipples.
Each breast implant is a silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or a salt-water solution known as saline. Your surgeon will help you determine which implant option and insertion path will best fulfill your aesthetic desire.
The surgery usually takes one to two hours to complete, and it is an outpatient procedure.
The results of your breast augmentation can last an indefinite amount of time.
You should expect soreness, swelling, change in nipple sensation, and bruising. Your breasts will be sensitive to stimulation for a few weeks.
Within a few days, you can return to work, and you can begin light exercise after about two weeks, with the approval of your doctor.
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 implant.
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.
Occasionally, breast 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 should occur.
Implants may also change the way mammography is done to detect cancer. When you request a routine mammogram, be sure to go to a radiology center where technicians are experienced in the special techniques required to get a reliable x-ray of a breast with an implant.
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