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During breast augmentation surgery, or augmentation mammaplasty, breast implants are inserted into a pocket behind the breast tissues, positioned beneath the nipples and the incisions closed with stitches. The implants expand the breast area to provide a fuller appearance, more cleavage and an enhanced contour. In 2012, more than 330,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed in the United States, making it the most-performed cosmetic surgery procedure for women, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
The incision can be made beneath the breast, around the nipple or in the armpit or umbilicus. Incisions for saline breast implants are usually only about one inch long because the implant is rolled up, inserted empty and then filled with sterile saline solution. Incisions for silicone gel implants are generally longer because the implants are pre-filled. The two most common locations for the incision are in the crease where the breast meets the chest (inframmamary fold incision) and around the nipple (peri-areolar incision).
The implant is inserted to a placement site either over, partially under, or completely under the pectoralis muscle in the chest. Over the muscle placement tends to create more distinct cleavage and a more rounded appearance. Implants placed partially under the muscle are usually less rounded and provide a more natural shape in the upper portion of the breasts.
The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and takes from one to two hours to complete. General anesthesia is usually administered to ensure that the patient sleeps through the entire procedure.
Most women experience some pain due to stretching of the breast tissues during surgery. The pain usually subsides quickly during the first 48 hours after surgery and is relieved by pain medication prescribed by your plastic surgeon.
After surgery, most patients are able to return home within a few hours and return to work within a few days. Any dressings are removed after several days and stitches are removed in seven to ten days. Patients may experience a burning sensation in the nipples for about two weeks and swelling in the breasts may persist for three to five weeks.
There are risks involved with any surgical procedure, including breast augmentation. The most common risks and possible complications include capsular contracture, excessive bleeding, infection, changes in sensitivity and deflation or rupture. Complications after surgery are not experienced by most women, but should be reviewed as part of your decision-making process.
Most women are able to successfully breastfeed following breast augmentation. If you may want to breastfeed in the future, let the plastic surgeon know when you go in for your consultation. The inframammary fold and transaxillary incisions may be the best choices for women who plan to breastfeed because the milk ducts located behind the nipple are left relatively undisturbed.
To determine if breast augmentation is right for you, think carefully about your goals and expectations and discuss all of your options, including the benefits and risks, with your plastic surgeon. Click here to locate a plastic surgeon in your area.
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