What is Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Every woman deserves to be happy with her breasts. But for some women, lack of volume, asymmetry, or an unusual breast shape makes feeling confident about their shape difficult.

Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most popular cosmetic enhancement procedures with the highest patient satisfaction rating—for good reason! For women interested in enhancing their breast size and shape to improve overall body image, the placement of breast implants is a safe option with relatively quick recovery and dramatic results.

In the hands of one of our experienced plastic surgeons, Hampton Roads breast augmentation patients can enjoy the compassionate and cutting-edge treatment.

Breast Augmentation Before & After Photos

Breast Augmentation Before & After Photos
To view more breast augmentation before and after photos, click here!

Am I a Good Candidate for Breast Augmentation?

Picture of women measuring breast size with measuring tape
There are a variety of reasons why women choose breast augmentation. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable plastic surgeon in Hampton Roads to determine if breast augmentation is a good fit for you, but most patients desire one of the following improvements:

  • Larger breast size
  • Correcting asymmetry (one breast that is noticeably smaller than the other)
  • Adding fullness to the upper breast
  • Improving the overall shape of the breast

For any cosmetic surgery, it’s important that patients are in good general health, are non-smokers or willing to quit, and have realistic expectations.

Breast augmentation is intended to give the patient larger and more shapely breasts, but a positive self-image is a happy side-effect. Our breast augmentation patients in Hampton Roads, Williamsburg, and surrounding areas have had their lives changed by the self-confidence that this procedure can bring.

Breast Implant Options

Like women (and breasts!), implants come in all shapes and sizes. During your personalized consultation, we will work closely with you to recommend the best options for your natural anatomy and desired outcome. While size is an important aspect, there are many factors that will impact your final results.

Learn more about your breast implant options:

How do I prepare for breast augmentation?

Part of the preparation for breast augmentation is discussing preferences with the surgeon. Patients may learn about various breast implant devices and characteristics such as material (saline or silicone), shape, texture, profile, and incision types to help them determine the best implant type for their needs.
Patients receive written information regarding their selected breast implant type, which they should read and keep for their records. Also:

  • Avoid aspirin and any supplements that thin the blood
  • Arrange a support person to drive on surgery day and assist with basic care for at least 24 hours
  • Pick up prescriptions and supplies that will be needed for recovery

What to Expect from Breast Augmentation

After you and your surgeon have decided which breast implant options are best suited to you, and you feel comfortable moving forward, your surgery will be scheduled. Breast augmentation surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, meaning you will be able to return home the same day with a designated driver.

You will be required to wear a special elastic bra after your procedure, which helps hold the breasts in the correct position to promote both healing and maintenance of results. We will prescribe oral pain medication to help you manage any initial discomfort you experience.

Your sutures will be removed during your follow-up visit, typically within 7 to 12 days. Light activities can be resumed as tolerated and aerobic activities can be started in about 3 weeks. Moving or sliding the implants within the breast pockets during the post-operative period may reduce the frequency of wrinkling. Your surgeon will instruct you in post-operative massage of your implants at your post-operative check-up.

Under the Muscle vs Over the Muscle Implant

The pectoralis major muscle is a large fan-shaped piece of tissue that is positioned in the upper, central aspect of each breast. The pectoralis minor muscle sits under the outer edge of the pectoralis major. Outside of these muscles, at the outer sides of the chest wall, is the serratus muscle. To place an implant under the muscle, the surgeon detaches the pectoralis major from its lower point along the ribs. The implant then sits behind this muscle and in front of the pectoralis minor and serratus muscles. Under-the-muscle position means that approximately half of the breast implant sits under the pectoralis major.

Under the Muscle Breast Implant Pros and Cons

Pros of under the muscle placement include a lower risk of capsular contracture and less visibility of the edges of implants in thinner women. The bulk of muscle over the inner, upper aspects of the breasts can also foster a natural appearance.

Cons of under the muscle placement include increased postoperative soreness and longer recovery for swelling to subside. Patients will not see the final results of their surgery for several months, as implants settle beneath the muscle.

Over the Muscle Breast Implant Pros and Cons

Pros of over the muscle placement include an easier recovery and faster results. This option is typically better for women who are naturally a B cup or larger than for women with smaller breasts.

Cons of over the muscle placement include an increased risk of capsular contracture when smooth implants are inserted. There is also a greater risk of rippling, especially for thinner women with naturally small breasts.

What is the difference between saline and silicone breast implants?

All breast implants are made with a medical-grade silicone shell. Saline implants are filled with sterile saline water, while silicone implants are filled with cohesive silicone gel.

Let’s get into the differences.

Saline implants

  • Are placed empty and filled once in the breast pocket
  • Can be placed through smaller incisions because of this
  • If they rupture, the body simply absorbs the saline solution
  • Are not thought to feel as close to natural breast tissue as silicone
  • Are more prone to rippling, especially when placed above the pectoral muscle

Silicone implants

  • Are thought to feel more like natural breast tissue
  • Are filled with cohesive gel
  • Today’s silicone gel is much more cohesive, meaning it adheres to itself
  • Require longer incisions because the implants are placed already filled
  • Are not prone to rippling

There are two exceptions to each type: gummy bear implants and Ideal implants. Gummy bear implants are silicone gel implants that are filled with “highly cohesive” silicone gel. You can think of the gel as similar to a gummy bear, hence the name. When a gummy bear implant is cut, the gel does not migrate out of the cut shell at all. This means, in the case of a rupture, the gel will not leak into the breast pocket.

Ideal implants are a sort of hybrid implant. They are saline implants that are constructed so that they feel more like silicone implants, which are generally considered to be more like natural breast tissue. The secret to Ideal implants is their construction. They are made with a series of nested shells. By not having all of the saline solutions in a single chamber, the liquid is spread through the different chambers. So, they feel like silicone, but give the reassurance of saline in case of rupture.

What’s the difference between round and teardrop-shaped implants?

Implants come in either round or teardrop shapes. Here are some characteristics of both choices.

Round implants

Round implants are far and away from the most popular option, with about 70 percent of women choosing them. They can be filled with either silicone or saline. Round implants come in a variety of sizes and profiles. The profile means the projection of the implant. High profile implants have a smaller base and project outward more than low or medium profile implants. Round implants add volume in both the lower part of the breast and in the upper part. Many women like adding volume higher on the breast because it adds cleavage and it fills back in the upper breast that has flattened somewhat with aging.

Teardrop-shaped implants

Teardrop-shaped implants have less volume high in the implant and more in the bottom, as natural breast tissue allocates when a woman is standing. Because they must be properly oriented, teardrop-shaped implants present obvious problems if they shift or flip. If an implant shift to the side, for instance, now the volume will be out of place and the breast will appear oddly misshapen.

You may want to consider natural anatomy when weighing your options. With around implant, when a woman stands up, some of the implant mass settles into the bottom of the round implant and the lower portion of the breast. This is exactly what happens when a woman stands with natural breasts.

When a woman lies down, round implants spread outward evenly, just as natural breast tissue does. Here, a teardrop-shaped implant can actually present an un-natural volume mass lower in the breast.

Will the scars from my breast augmentation be visible?

Any scarring after augmentation with the team at Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads depends upon the incision location you choose.

  • If you choose the periareolar incision made at the edge of the areola, the scar is virtually invisible as it tracks along the edge of the areola.
  • If you choose the trans axillary incision, there isn’t any scarring on the breasts, as we make the incisions in the armpits. The small vertical incision in the armpit is pretty much invisible, as it fades quickly, and our armpits aren’t exactly on display.
  • If you choose the inframammary incision along the breast crease, this creates the most visible scarring. The scars fade dramatically, but there will be a scar on each breast. The incisions are placed just above the bottom of the breast, enabling them to be hidden under a bra or bathing suit top.

Combining Procedures for Enhanced Results

Some women benefit from combining a breast lift with their breast augmentation. This is a good option for women who are experiencing loss of shape or drooping after pregnancy, weight loss, or natural aging.

How long is my recovery after breast augmentation surgery?

Breast augmentation is surgery, but your recovery is not as difficult as you might assume. For the first few days, you will have some discomfort, but it doesn’t usually require serious pain medication. Your chest will likely feel tight, but this is perfectly normal as the tissue needs to stretch and the implants need to settle into place. When you first look at your new breasts, they may appear too high on the chest. But this is also normal, as settling will bring the implants down somewhat.

Most patients can return to work in just four or five days. You can begin the non-impact activity in a week or so, but impact exercise needs to wait for at least one month. Specific upper body exercises can resume in six weeks.

Can I breastfeed after breast augmentation?

Our Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads plastic surgeons do everything possible to avoid milk ducts and to keep the nipples intact so that breastfeeding is unaffected with this surgery. The incision location that presents the most risk to the milk ducts is the periareolar incision, but the training, expertise, and experience of our four board-certified surgeons are usually able to avoid damaging the ducts. Still, there is a chance that breastfeeding could be impacted. The one incision option that can’t impact breastfeeding is the transaxillary placement through the armpits.

We will discuss how breastfeeding may be impacted during your consultation.

When should you change your breast implants?

Many women are under the impression that breast implants need to be replaced after 10 years. This is because the FDA reported that one in five patients do need revision or replacement after this amount of time. Warranties on breast implants are typically limited to 10 years, as well. However, seeing that one in five women need revision within a decade of breast augmentation, we also see that four in five continue to enjoy the results of breast augmentation after 10 years.

Breast augmentation revision may be sought for several reasons. Complications such as rupture or deflation account for only 3% of revision surgeries. Most secondary procedures are performed to correct malposition, release scar tissue, and change size or shape.

When can I return to normal activities after breast augmentation?

Patients can return to most of their normal activities in a week to two weeks. The important thing is to avoid impact. That’s because if the breasts move this places stress on your incisions and this can affect scarring. That’s why patients need to be incredibly diligent about first wearing their surgical support bra, and then transitioning to a regular support bra for 24 hours every day for at least one month after surgery. Along that line, any exercise that involves impact should be postponed for at least one month. Upper body exercises such as weightlifting or lifting for work need to wait for six weeks.

How Much Does Breast Augmentation Surgery Cost?

Breast enlargement is considered cosmetic and, therefore, is not covered by insurance. The patient is responsible for payment. Our patient counselors can help you with your financial arrangements, including financing.

What are the risks of a breast augmentation procedure?

Breast augmentation carries the same risks as other surgeries, including adverse reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, and infection. These complications rarely occur. Other common risks associated with breast augmentation include:

  • Capsular contracture, formed of scar tissue around the breast implant
  • Changes in breast or nipple sensation
  • Breast pain, usually associated with capsular contracture
  • Implant rupture or leakage

The FDA recently identified a potential link between certain breast implant models and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). Patients interested in breast augmentation should understand that the FDA has recalled all breast implant devices in question. The implants that are currently used have existed for many years without serious complications.

Is breast augmentation recovery painful?

Our patients are often surprised at how little pain is involved in recovery from augmentation surgery. Many patients don’t feel the need to use any of their prescription pain medication, feeling that over-the-counter options are all that’s needed. We’ve had patients equate the feeling afterward as being similar to the feeling they’ve had after a very strong upper body workout at the gym. You’ll have some soreness, not really acute pain, and this will last mainly from 2-4 days.

Schedule Your Consultation Today!

Breast augmentation in Hampton Roads has helped countless patients’ lives, rejuvenating their self-confidence along with their figures. Contact us today by calling 757-873-3500 to learn more with a consultation from one of our qualified medical professionals. Our practice has locations in Williamsburg, Newport News, and the surrounding areas of Virginia.

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