Pregnancy and giving birth can result in marked changes to your body. The joy of having your newborn child in your arms compensates for any stretches or scars left behind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to help your body get back in gear after giving birth.
Your breasts can often take the biggest hit from pregnancy and childbirth, sagging, shrinking, gathering excess fat, or developing unsightly stretch marks.
If you’re discouraged because your healthy diet and exercise regimen isn’t making a dent to restore your breasts to what they once were, you needn’t be. The aftereffects of childbirth and pregnancy on your breasts can’t typically be resolved through these regular methods, which is why so many women have turned to breast augmentation to achieve the results they desire.
As a rule of thumb, you should wait a minimum of six months after giving birth before scheduling your breast augmentation surgery. Keep reading for a thorough overview of breast augmentation, the preparation, procedure, recovery, and costs to help you decide whether or not this path is right for you.
What Is Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Breast augmentation surgery, also known as an augmentation mammoplasty is a surgery performed with the intent to enhance the shape, size, or shapeliness of the breast. During surgery, the doctor inserts saline, silicone, or another type of composite breast implant into the muscles of the chest or breast tissue.
The majority of implants last anywhere from 7 to 12 years once installed, but the longevity of the implants can depend on the type of material used. For instance, typical silicone or saline breast implants could easily last between 10 and 20 years.
With that said, many women have their implants removed sooner if complications arise or they are unsatisfied with the cosmetic appearance of the implants over time. As many as 20% of individuals have their implants replaced or removed after 8 to 10 years.
The Benefits of Breast Augmentation Surgery
There are many reasons women opt for breast augmentation surgery. One of the primary benefits of breast augmentation surgery post-baby is that the procedure can help to restore the prior size and shape of your breasts.
If you find that your breasts are shrunken and drooping after having your child and breastfeeding, breast augmentation surgery can help enlarge the area for a fuller and more supple look.
Another significant benefit of breast augmentation surgery is that it can help you get back the symmetry of your breasts if they have become asymmetrical during the breastfeeding process. For instance, if your baby favors one breast over the other, this could lead to sagging in one breast, giving an overall irregular appearance.
How to Prepare for Breast Augmentation Surgery
There are multiple components involved in preparing for breast augmentation surgery. Prior to the surgery, your doctor may order blood tests and ask you to take particular medications or adjust your dosage of ones you are already taking. If you are a smoker, you will likely be asked to stop smoking in advance of the surgery.
You may also be ordered to cease taking aspirin or any other anti-inflammatories, as these could increase the risk of bleeding.
If you’re unsure whether you want breast augmentation or a reduction, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at what each entails so you can decide which is the best choice for you.
Deciding Between an Augmentation and a Reduction
Choosing between an augmentation or a reduction is a very personal choice, which greatly depends on what your desired goals are for the appearance and shape of your breast. Here’s what you need to know.
Breast Lift and Augmentation Surgery
A breast lift and breast augmentation surgery, also called an augmentation mastopexy, is when both lift and implant procedures are performed. If you have sagging tissue in your breast and have lost the fullness you previously had before you had your baby, this route may be for you.
The procedure involves the removal of extra skin, a lift of the tissue in the breast, and enhancing the fullness of the breast through the use of an implant.
If you have smaller breasts, a breast lift and breast augmentation surgery can be a viable option to enhance the size and fullness of your breasts to negate drooping or sagging from things like breastfeeding.
Breast Reduction and Lift Surgery
On the other hand, if you are unhappy with the size of your breasts post childbirth and find them too large, with excess skin and a drooping appearance, you might consider a breast reduction and lift surgery instead. Very large breasts can result in other issues beyond personal dissatisfaction, including chafing, neck, back, and shoulder pain, and general discomfort.
With a breast reduction, the usual procedure involves the surgeon making an incision through which glandular tissue, excess fat, and skin are removed. The fat may also be drawn out via liposuction, particularly if the size of the breast is caused by extra skin and fatty tissue.
In congruence with the breast reduction, the breast lift will help to ensure that the remaining tissue is firm and supple, with a smaller breast that imbues a more youthful appearance.
Choosing the Right Implant, Incision, and Placement for Your Breast Augmentation Surgery
With a breast augmentation surgery, there are three primary types of breast implants you’ll have to choose from. These are:
- Saline implants
- Silicone implants
- Alternative composite implants
Saline implants are full of a sterile saline mixture, much like salt water and the solution is stored inside an elastomer silicone shell.
The implants may be filled with varying amounts of the saline mixture to give the desired effect, such as the look, firmness, and shape of your breast. With a saline implant, if the solution leaks for some reason, the body absorbs it and gets rid of it through natural expulsion processes.
Silicone gel-filled implants are made from an outer silicone shell comprised of silicone gel on the inside. If the implant starts to leak, the gel either remains inside the silicone gel or goes into the pocket of the breast implant.
Once leaking, the implant may remain firm, or it could collapse later on. If you choose the silicone gel-filled implants route, you will need to see your doctor more regularly for checkups as compared to if you had saline implants.
In the case of alternative composite implants, these types of implants could be filled with a variety of materials, such as soy oil or polypropylene string.
The primary types of breast augmentation incisions are:
- Vertical or lollipop incisions
- Anchor or Inverted T incisions
- Periareolar (also known as Benelli or Donut) incisions
- Crescent incisions
With a vertical incision, a single incision is made at the areola, and another is made vertically, starting at the bottom of the areola and running to the inframammary fold. A vertical incision method is often a strong contender for women seeking breast augmentation post-pregnancy.
An anchor incision is made around the areola, stretching vertically from the areola to the fold of the breast and along the inframammary fold, taking on the appearance of an anchor. The method is a good option to remedy severe sagging and changes to the breast tissue.
Periareolar incisions are full circle incisions placed on the outer rime of the areola, and are a good option for minor sagging and resizing. Finally, the crescent incision is a single incision situated around a portion of the areola in the shape of a crescent moon. The incision technique is good for remedying mild sagging or repositioning fallen nipples.
The placement of your implants is key, as you can opt for either over or under the muscle placement during the procedure. Your surgeon is the ideal authority to determine which is the best method for your situation, but it’s critical to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each so you can make an informed assessment.
With over the muscle placement, the procedure is easier and less invasive. The recovery time is much faster, discomfort is lessened, and there is the option to create more cleavage because the implants can be placed nearer to each other. You can use larger implants in over the muscle placement procedures as well.
The drawbacks are that the final look is not going to be as natural. Because implants are only supported by the shin of the device, this could later lead to stretch marks and other blemishes. With over the muscle breast augmentation, rippling may occur, and there is a heightened risk of the device “bottoming outward.”
Under the muscle placement offers a more natural appearance post breast augmentation, with a lowered risk of noticeable rippling. The muscle supports the implant, and there is a lower risk of the device “bottoming outward.”
However, the procedure is more difficult and invasive, recovery time is longer, and breasts can sit high after it is completed. Also, depending on your body type, it may not be possible to install larger implants.
Speak with your surgeon to discuss the placement options that are right for your particular scenario.
What Is the Procedure for Breast Augmentation Surgery?
The procedure for breast augmentation surgery involves taking fat from your body or an implant and installing it behind each breast. The implants will be situated behind your chest muscles or the breast tissue, which means that you could enhance your breast size by a cup or above.
You can select either a round or contoured breast implants to enhance the size and shape.
What to Expect During Breast Augmentation Surgery
Prior to your surgery, the surgeon will discuss your implant size options to help you choose the right one for you. You might have the opportunity to try out varying sizes of implants in your bra to assess how they feel.
Most breast augmentations require the administering of a general anesthetic, so you sleep during the procedure. Occasionally a local anesthetic may be administered so that you would be awake during the procedure.
During the breast augmentation, the implant will be installed into a pocket either over or under the muscle as we previously discussed. Implants placed beneath the chest muscles could result in more pain and longer recovery time. Implants placed behind the tissue of the breast and over the chest muscle are often advised.
Once the implants are inserted, the surgeon will seal the incisions with sutures in the tissue. Surgical tape, adhesives, and stitches will keep the skin closed. The incision lines will be noticeable at the beginning, but these will eventually fade.
Is Breast Augmentation a Major Surgery?
In short, yes, breast augmentation is considered major surgery. With that said, techniques like under the muscle augmentation are less invasive and require much shorter healing time.
Is Breast Augmentation Surgery Safe?
Studies conducted have not found a connection between implants and diseases like autoimmune disorders. Breast augmentation is generally considered a safe procedure. Breast implants are approved by the FDA and a source of frequent study by scientists around the globe.
However, as with any type of surgery, there are risks involved to be aware of. Let’s take a closer look.
Risks of Breast Augmentation Surgery
Some risks associated with breast augmentation surgery include:
- Sensations in the nipples and/or breasts
- Leaking or rupturing implants
- Accumulation of fluid
- Bruising and swelling
It is not uncommon for women with silicone or saline implants to require an additional procedure in the years following the initial operation. Scars from the breast augmentation can thicken and cause discomfort, which sometimes necessitates another surgery.
How Long Does Breast Augmentation Surgery Take?
Breast augmentations are typically outpatient procedures, which take between 1 to 2 hours from start to finish.
What to Expect After Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Once the anesthetic fades following the breast augmentation procedure, you will be given painkillers to increase your comfort level. Due to the general anesthesia, you will not be able to drive yourself home. The sutures should fade within six weeks.
The surgeon’s office will give you information about how to take care of your breasts after the surgery, how to take the medications prescribed, when to go for your post-op appointment, and when to contact the doctor. The physician may recommend some exercises post-op, like moving and flexing your arms and what kind of bra you should wear.
If you experience any unusual symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, or sign of infection, contact your doctor at once to deal with the matter.
Restrictions After Breast Augmentation Surgery
You will be very exhausted after the procedure, so you will need to take it easy and get lots of rest while you recover. You will be permitted to take off the dressing within 24 hours of the procedure, and you can gauze the dressings as you need to for a week.
You will probably have to wear a soft post-surgical bra, such as a sports bra. You will not be able to wear an underwire bra, as this could alter the position of your implant. Some surgeons may recommend that you not wear a bra at all.
Most patients will be able to shower 24 hours out from the procedure, but you will need to avoid water submersion for two weeks following (pools, hot tubs, bath water, oceans, lakes, etc.) Most patients can resume their routine within days following the procedure.
Cost of Breast Augmentation Surgery
Check out the average costs of breast augmentation surgery. The type of implant you choose, the materials used, and the extent of the procedure are all factors that contribute to cost.
Breast Lift Cost
The average breast lift cost is around $5,000. The figure can vary based on the technique used, the experience of your surgeon, and the physical office location.
Cost of Breast Lift and Augmentation Surgery
The average cost of breast augmentation on its own is around $4,000. With the combination of augmentation and lift, you could be looking at costs starting at $9,000 and going up.
Cost of Breast Reduction and Lift Surgery
The average cost of a breast reduction is typically around $6,000, so a combination of a lift and reduction could be upwards of $11,000 or more. The combination of procedures could be more expensive but has the potential to be more cost-effective than having both done individually.
These cost projections don’t typically include components like operating facilities and anesthesia. Speak with your doctor when assessing your options to determine which is the best option for you.
Interview a variety of surgeons and assess their costs before making your final selection. Some offices offer financing plans for procedures, to make breast augmentation and other similar surgeries a more viable, accessible option.