What Is a Breast Augmentation?
Breast Augmentation definition, medically known as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a patient’s breasts using a saline or silicone gel implant. The terms breast augmentation and breast implants can be used interchangeably—both terms refer to the procedure of inserting an implant in the breast to increase your bust line by one or more bra cup sizes.
Reasons for Breast Augmentation
There are many reasons women decide to have their breast augmented. Breast implants can:
- Make the breasts fuller and more shapely
- Correct asymmetrical or imbalanced breasts
- Replace lost breast volume
- Increase self-confidence
- Improve how you look and feel in clothes and swimsuits
Choosing the Right Size, Placement, and Incision Point for Breast Implants
There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best implant type and placement. These include your build and body shape, the width of your chest, distance between breasts, the skin elasticity in the area (which can also be improved with a breast lift), and breast symmetry.
During your Houston breast augmentation consultation Dr. Schusterman will help you evaluate the best options for the incision site and implant placement based on your goals. The two most common incision sites are around the nipple (periareolar) or in the fold under the breast (inframammary). A periareolar incision may affect breastfeeding.
Using 3D Imaging to Plan Your Breast Augmentation
We know it’s hard to commit to a procedure when all you have is a mental picture of the end result. To take the guesswork out of your experience, we offer VECTRA 3D imaging simulation. This advanced computer program uses a 3D photo of your torso to help you visualize the results of your breast augmentation procedure based on the type of implant and placement you choose. This empowering tool can help you feel more confident about your decision.
To see actual breast augmentation results from our Houston patients, visit our Before and After Breast Augmentation Photo Gallery. We recommend viewing our gallery before scheduling a consultation with 3D imaging.
With submuscular placement the surgeon positions the breast implant behind the pectoral muscle. This placement looks and feels more natural because the implant is further away from the skin. It may require a longer surgery and recovery period, but typically there is less scar tissue formation. Placing the implant under the muscle also makes it easier for doctors to see your breast tissue on a mammogram.
With subglandular placement, the surgeon positions the breast implant behind the breast tissue but over the pectoral muscle. There is usually a shorter surgery time with subglandular placement as well as less pain and a faster recovery because only skin and fat are impacted. However, implants may be more obvious with this placement and there is a bigger risk of capsular contracture, which is when the body creates scar tissue around the implant. This placement also makes it more difficult for doctors to see breast tissue with a mammogram.
How to Choose a Breast Augmentation Surgeon
Deciding on the right surgeon to perform your breast augmentation is one of the most important aspects of the process. Stories abound of people who have had botched procedures by unskilled or untrained surgeons.
Your doctor will be your partner through the whole process, from the initial consultation to your follow-up care. Here are some important considerations when choosing a doctor:
- Choose an experienced, board-certified breast augmentation surgeon.
- Ask the doctor how many years of experience he or she has and how many procedures they’ve performed.
- Ask to see testimonials and before and after photos. If a doctor can’t or won’t answer your questions or you feel uncomfortable, don’t ignore your gut. Find another doctor.
- Ask whether the doctor is a member of any respected professional organizations, such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS); also ask about any awards or honors he or she has received. Memberships, awards, and honors speak to the doctor’s commitment to their practice and their patients.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, schedule an initial consultation with a Houston breast augmentation surgeon and see how you feel meeting with him or her in person. Do you have a good rapport? Do you feel confident in his or her ability? Do you believe the doctor is well-qualified and feel he or she is attentive? Again, don’t ignore your gut. Plastic surgery is a big decision, and you want to choose a doctor who takes your health and your goals to heart.
What are some Breast Augmentation Risks?
As with any operation, there are risks and specific complications with breast augmentation surgery including scarring, infection, hematoma (localized bleeding), and implant leakage or rupture. While most patients do not experience these complications, you should discuss each of them with your plastic surgeon before committing to the procedure.
It’s important to know that breast implants aren’t always permanent. You may need a future operation to remove and replace the original implant.
Planning Your Surgery
During your initial breast enhancement consultation, Dr. Schusterman will evaluate your health and suggest which surgical techniques are most appropriate based on your age, health, and the condition of your breasts. If your breasts have simply lost elasticity and are beginning to sag, but you’re happy with their size, we may recommend a breast lift. If your goal is more volume or larger breasts, we may recommend breast augmentation with a breast lift.
What Happens During the Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Breast augmentation is an outpatient procedure, which means you’re not required to stay overnight in the hospital. Using state-of-the-art equipment, Dr. Schusterman will perform the procedure while you’re under general anesthesia—you’ll be asleep through the entire operation and will not remember anything from the surgery.
Depending on which procedures you’re having done, surgery can take 1-2 hours.
- Once our board-certified anesthesiologist puts you safely to sleep, Dr. Schusterman will make the incision(s) to place the implant. The location of the incision and the method he uses to insert and position your implant will depend on your anatomy. The doctor will make every effort to create a natural-looking breast with minimal scarring. Before your surgery Dr. Schusterman will use a marker to draw the incision lines on your body, so you’ll know exactly what to expect.
- Next, Dr. Schusterman will create a tissue pocket in each breast. For submuscular placement the breast pocket will be under the pectoral muscle. For a subglandular placement the pocket will be above the pectoral muscle.
- Next, the doctor will place the implants. Saline implants are filled after the doctor places them inside the breast pocket. Silicone gel implants come pre-filled.
- Once Dr. Schusterman has placed the implants and performed any other procedures you’ve requested (such as a breast lift), he will close the incisions with stitches and may use surgical tape to provide additional support. The surgical team may also use gauze bandaging over your breasts to help with healing.
How should you prepare for your Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Please let our office know if you smoke or if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs that could affect the safest way to proceed.
Please follow our personalized instructions on eating, drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications before surgery. You should also arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you for a few days. We perform breast implant surgery at the Hermann Drive Surgical Hospital, a state-of-the-art plastic surgery center near our office.
Breast Augmentation Post-Operative Care and Recovery
More than likely you’ll be discharged the same day of your surgery, but you’ll need someone to drive you home. It’s common to feel sore and tired for a few days after surgery, and you may also experience a burning sensation in the nipples for about two weeks. This discomfort is usually manageable and probably won’t prevent you from showering, going out, and doing other safe post-op activities within about a day of the surgery. We will prescribe pain medication if you need it and a surgical zip-front bra to minimize discomfort.
Immediately after surgery, your breast implants may appear higher than you’d like. This is due to post-surgical chest swelling. Your breasts should drop into a natural placement after a few days.
During the healing process, you may notice temporarily increased or decreased sensation in your nipples. Most patients retain their pre-surgical nipple sensitivity once the implants have settled into place and all the swelling is gone. The absorbable sutures will dissolve in 60-90 days, and swelling can take from 3-5 weeks to disappear completely.
During your follow-up visit to the Texas Center for Breast and Body, we’ll evaluate your progress and address any concerns you have about the shape and size of your breasts or any discomfort you’re having. We’ll examine you to make sure you’re healing well.
Breast Augmentation Scars
At your follow-up visit, you will likely still have firm, pink scars, which will stay prominent for at least 6 weeks. This is normal, and the scars may remain the same size for several months or even appear to widen before finally beginning to fade. Dr. Schusterman and our team can recommend at-home moisturizers to calm redness and reduce scar visibility.
Most patients return to work within a few days, but please follow all instructions resuming activities after your breast augmentation, including exercise. It’s important to avoid strenuous exercise and direct contact or stimulation to your breasts for at least 2-3 weeks, in general.
Can I Have a Mammogram After Breast Implants?
It is still safe and highly recommended to get mammograms after you have completely healed from breast implant surgery. Women over age 40 should continue to schedule routine mammograms. Always tell your mammogram technician you’ve had breast augmentation. This will help the technician evaluate the mammogram results more accurately and take appropriate precautions during the procedure. If your technician knows about your history, he or she will also know to check for any complications associated with your implants. This can help with early detection and treatment of health issues in the unlikely event any emerge.
Breast Augmentation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who is a candidate for breast implants?
Women 18 and older who are generally in good health are candidates for breast augmentation. Saline implants are approved by the FDA for use in patients age 18 and older; silicone implants are approved for patients age 22 and older.
We recommend that women wait at least 3-6 months after pregnancy or 6 months after they stop breastfeeding to have breast augmentation surgery.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Schusterman to learn whether you’re a good candidate for breast augmentation.
Can I wear a bra after breast augmentation surgery?
While not wearing a bra might make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, Dr. Schusterman has found that women who go without a no-underwire bra for 8 weeks after surgery achieve the best results. It is also ideal to wear a sports bra only. Not restraining the breasts allows the implant to settle into the most natural position in the breast pocket.
Where will I have the surgery?
Dr. Schusterman performs breast augmentation surgery at several different outpatient centers in Houston, near our office. Time and date of your surgery will determine which center you will go to.
Will I be asleep during the procedure?
Yes, breast augmentation surgery is always performed under general anesthesia, which means you’ll be asleep and will not remember the surgery. Dr. Schusterman uses a board-certified anesthesiologist for every procedure.
How big will the incisions be?
The size and extent of the incisions depend on which type of breast implant you choose, saline or gel-filled, and whether the incision is periareolar (around the areola) or inframammary (in the crease under the breast). Which type of implant and incision you and Dr. Schusterman decide on will depend on your anatomy and your cosmetic goals.
Does breast augmentation leave scars?
Breast implant procedures do leave a small scar, but Dr. Schusterman does everything to minimize scarring by making the incision in a well-hidden area. Breast lift surgery leaves longer scars due to the nature of the surgery. Scars typically fade over time when cared for properly.
Is breast implant surgery painful?
Patients should expect to have some discomfort in the days and weeks following the surgery. Pain or discomfort is usually very manageable with prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol). You will need to avoid NSAID drugs, such as Advil and Motrin, for at least 2 weeks after surgery, as these can increase your risk of bleeding.
When can I start exercising again after breast augmentation?
You should start light walking immediately after surgery, which can help prevent blood clots. In general, patients can do more moderate walking (uphill or on a treadmill) 2 weeks after surgery. A month after surgery you can resume most types of exercise, except heavy lifting and strenuous circuit training, like CrossFit. After around six weeks most patients are completely healed and can resume all types of exercise.
Will my nipples become less or more sensitive?
Most patients will have some temporary change in nipple sensitivity after surgery caused by swelling. Nearly all patients will resume pre-surgery nipple sensitivity as the swelling goes away.
Are silicone gel breast implants safe?
You may have heard claims that silicone breast implants are unsafe or less safe than saline implants. In the 1980s and 90s many lawsuits were filed claiming ruptured silicone gel implants caused health problems. Silicone breast implants were taken off the market in 1992 and underwent careful study. Repeated studies have shown silicone gel breast implants to be safe, and today they are used in all major countries in the world. Learn more about this issue at www.breastimplantsafety.org.
When can I go swimming or take a bath?
Submerging the breasts in water can increase your risk of infection in the weeks following surgery. We recommend waiting a full 4 weeks before swimming or taking a bath.
How much does breast augmentation cost?
Since breast augmentation is almost always considered an elective cosmetic procedure, it is usually not covered by insurance. In general, it can cost between $5,000 and $7,000, but the exact price depends on the procedures you choose. The price includes surgeon’s fees, anesthesiologist, surgical facility fees, and follow-up appointments. Prescription medications are not included but may be partially or completely covered by your health insurance.
Is financing available?
Yes, we work with several companies that specialize in cosmetic procedure financing. Learn more here.
Schedule a consultation for breast implants in Houston, TX today.
Dr. Schusterman, I would like to thank you for such a great job, not only do I feel better physically, but mentally, I’m at an all time high! I would also like to praise your office staff who were at all times friendly and professional. Dr. Schusterman was outstanding from start to finish! I would not ask for better experience.
My experience with Dr. Schusterman and his entire staff has been wonderful. They are friendly and thorough, and I am very pleased with the results of my procedure. I have already, and will continue to, refer potential clients to Dr. Schusterman.
Wonderful, friendly, and helpful staff. Fabulous results. The results were exactly what I wanted.
Dr. Schusterman was very helpful in achieving all of my goals, answering my questions, and following up even after surgery. I would recommend him to anyone, and my only regret is that I did not find him sooner.
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