Breast Augmentation Surgery
Once the surgeon has been chosen, the implants selected, and the breast enlargement techniques decided on, the breast augmentation surgery itself can then take place. The surgeon may have access to a local hospital or my have his or her own surgical facility. Either way, the surgical process will be more or less the same. You will show up at a pre-determined time and be prepared for surgery. The anesthesia will be administered and the surgeon will perform the procedure. Once you have come out of the anesthesia and the doctors decide you are ready, you will be sent home, usually on the same day.
Placing the Breast Implant - The Surgery
Breast augmentation surgery usually takes between one and two hours to complete. To some degree, the amount of time needed will depend on how and where the implant is being placed.
In most cases, breast enlargement surgery is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. The anesthesiologist will use either I.V. or inhaled sedatives to put the patient to sleep and keep them sedated until the surgery is complete. The patient will not be able to hear, see, or feel anything that is going on during the operation. Once the breast implant placement surgery is complete, the patient will be brought out of the anesthesia, but will probably be groggy and tired for some time afterward. It is a good idea to have someone who you trust to take care of you during this period.
Some people experience side effects from anesthesia, such as sore throat, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shivering, or muscle pain. These effects are temporary and will wear off as the anesthesia leaves your system. If you have had any reaction to anesthesia in the past, you should communicate this to your doctor during consultations.
Some surgeons will use a combination of local anesthesia and a conscious sedative to keep the patient awake but relaxed during breast enlargement surgery. This is much less common, but may be an option for patients who would rather not be under general anesthesia.
Breast enlargement surgery begins with an incision made in either the crease of the breast (inframammary), the armpit (transaxillary), the navel (T.U.B.A.), or the perimeter of the areola (periareolar). For both patient and surgeon, discreet incision placement is one of the top priorities in breast implant placement surgery. Although scars can fade significantly over time, they never completely disappear, so making the incision in an inconspicuous location helps to enhance the patient’s overall results. The location of the incision is decided on a case-by-case basis; each patient’s wishes and individual anatomy are taken into consideration.
The two main methods of implant placement used in breast enlargement surgery are subglandular breast implant placement (positioning of the implant in front of the pectoral muscle and directly behind the breast tissue) and submuscular breast implant placement (positioning of the implant under the pectoral muscle). Some surgeons recommend placing the breast implant in front of the chest muscle during surgery because this method tends to reduce postoperative pain and soreness. Other specialists advocate placing the breast implant under the pectoral muscle in order to prevent interference with future mammograms. You should discuss these options with your surgeon and come to a decision based on your preference and body type.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast augmentation before and after photos.
Photo credit: Dr. Brian Kobienia
After the implant has been placed, the incision is carefully sutured. Some surgeons use traditional stitches, while others use absorbable ones. If your stitches are the traditional variety, they will be removed between one and two weeks after your breast implant placement surgery, when the surgeon determines that the incision has been closed adequately and no longer needs to be sutured. Absorbable, or dissolvable, sutures will be broken down by the body and disappear on their own.
It is extremely important to keep the area around the stitches clean. Avoid submerging your incision site in water and do not let dirt or products come in contact with the area. You should also avoid any strenuous activity, lifting, or stretching that could pull the sutures. This will prolong healing time and make your scar more noticeable.
Drains / Bandages
Once the surgical incisions have been closed and taped, the breast implant placement surgery is complete. The breasts are wrapped and supported with a gauze bandage. The patient is then fitted with a special surgical bra that provides support for the first several weeks. Or, the surgeon may suggest the use of a compression bandage or sports bra instead. In any case, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions on when and how to wear supportive garments. This will help expedite the healing process and minimize any discomfort.
In some cases, the surgeon will place drainage tubes to minimize swelling and bruising. This practice is more common for breast enlargement surgery using a submuscular placement, as the technique causes greater disturbance of tissues in the area and will trigger more swelling than a subglandular placement. If drainage tubes are used, they are removed within a few days.
"I decided after having two children and breast feeding both of them that I needed to revamp..."
Learn More about Breast Augmentation Surgery
If you would like to know more about how breast enlargement through implant placement surgery is performed, find a cosmetic surgeon near you to answer all of your questions. Still not ready to meet with a plastic surgeon?