Breast augmentation, also known as ‘augmentation mammoplasty’, is surgery that aims to enhance the cosmetic appearance or increase the size of an individual’s breasts. It commonly involves placing implants under the breast tissue or chest muscle. Common reasons for undergoing breast augmentation include:
- Improving confidence.
- Rebuilding the breast following the removal of the natural breast tissue.
- Reconstruction after a mastectomy and cosmetic appearance.
Commonly, silicone implants are used to give a more natural feel and are less likely to cause wrinkling.
It is crucial to thoroughly discuss with your surgeon to understand the risks, complications, and expectations. Having expectations set early is essential for long-term success.
Benefits of Breast Augmentation
Although every breast augmentation procedure is unique to each individual, there are various benefits that qualifying clients can enjoy, including:
- Added volume and curves
- Evened-out naturally asymmetrical breasts
- Restored breasts after pregnancy and ageing
- Rebuilt breasts after a mastectomy
- Increased self-confidence
Why Get a Breast Augmentation?
There are many reasons why an individual might seek breast augmentation.
These typically include:
- Enhanced Appearance – Those who wish to enlarge their breasts and those for whom one breast is smaller than the other, particularly if it interferes with the way they dress or the bra needed to help with their breast symmetry and confidence.
- To adjust for a reduction in the size of breasts after a pregnancy or significant weight loss.
- To correct uneven breasts after previous breast surgery for another condition.
- To help improve self-confidence.
The Breast Augmentation Procedure Explained
Breast augmentation is sometimes done using local anaesthesia; you will be awake, and your breast area will be totally numb. Often, breast augmentation is done under general anaesthetic, for which the patient will be asleep during surgery. Your surgeon will review different anaesthesia options and advise you on the best way to proceed with the surgery and anaesthesia.
To insert the breast implant, your plastic surgeon will make a single cut [incision] in one of three places:
- The crease under your breast (inframammary)
- Under your arm (axillary)
- Around your nipple (periareolar)
After making an incision, the surgeon will separate your breast tissue from your chest’s muscles and connective tissue. This creates a pocket, either behind or in front of the outermost muscle of the chest wall. The surgeon will then insert the implant into this pocket and centre it behind your nipple.
Saline implants are inserted empty and then filled with sterile salt water once they are in place. Silicone implants are pre-filled with silicone gel. When the implant is in place, the surgeon will close the incision, typically with stitches (sutures) and then bandage it with skin adhesive and surgical tape to aid the post-surgical recovery process and help minimise scarring.
What Are the Risks of Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation, much like any other surgical procedure, does carry some risks. Although this type of surgery is very safe in the UK and many other countries, our surgeon will more than likely run you through some of the most common risks, no matter how slight the chance. The risks of breast augmentation surgery should always be discussed in length with your surgeon before performing the procedure. Some of the most commonly discussed risks include:
- Scarring – Scars as a result of the insertion of implants but also capsular contracture around the implant, which can distort the breast shape
- Infection – Superficial wound infection or more serious deep infections can occur. Rarely, but in a worst-case scenario, implant infection may occur, which requires removal to allow for healing. The precise level of scarring will be very surgeon dependant, but commonly some scarring will appear under the breast, armpit and around the nipple area, although this will reduce and heal over time
- Implant position – Implant position can change immediately or over time. This can be as the implant itself changes shape or as it ‘slips’ whilst in-situ
- Implant leakage and rupture – Although rare, it is a risk. There may be a change in the contour of the breast. Should this occur, it will need surgery to remove and ‘re-site the implant
- Implant leakage and rupture – Also known as ‘breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma.’ This is possible cancer linked to the body’s natural immune system and the implants being inserted in a way the body rejects, as a foreign body
- Breast implant illness – A systemic illness associated with implant surgery. It is not a well-understood condition but may result in memory loss, fatigue, rash, difficulty in cognition and concentrating arthralgia/myalgia.
How Much Does Breast Augmentation Surgery Cost?
The cost of each breast augmentation procedure will vary from client to client and from surgeon to surgeon. However, it would be best to discuss the potential costs with your surgeon or healthcare provider before undergoing breast augmentation surgery.
- UK private cost: Privately, the average price for breast augmentation surgery is between £3500 – £8000.
- NHS: this treatment is not usually available on the NHS. However, it may occasionally be provided on the NHS for psychological or other health reasons.