A Guide to Breast Augmentation
There are many reasons people choose to undergo a breast augmentation procedure: to increase the size of their breasts, to change their shape, reconstruction after an illness such as breast cancer, or as part of their gender reassignment journey. There can be a lot of positives to breast augmentation surgery, but it is important to know what to expect and be properly educated before undergoing any procedure.
We have created this guide to breast augmentation surgery to help those interested in the procedure understand the process and have all the necessary information to make an informed decision on whether or not it is for them.
Breast augmentation vs breast lift
What’s the difference between an augmentation and a lift? A breast lift helps reshape the breasts if they have dropped over time and aims to bring them higher up on the chest. This is different to breast augmentation that mainly focuses on shape and size.
Adding an implant to a breast that has dropped will not create the desired shape that a lift is able to provide. The implant would simply sit lower due to how the skin is sagging. If you are concerned about the height at which your breasts sit, a lift may be more suitable for you than augmentation.
A breast augmentation procedure can be done in conjunction with a breast lift if you are looking to alter the size of your breasts and lift them too.
Breast augmentation recovery
The recovery time for each different person having a breast augmentation can be different. Factors such as implant size and type, placement, and sometimes even the surgical skill of the doctor can affect the recovery time. It is important to remember that not everyone heals at the same rate; however, there is a rough recovery timeline for most breast augmentations.
A full recovery period usually takes around four to six weeks. It is vital that you do not partake in physical activity, lift any heavy objects, or overwork yourself during this recovery period. Over-exertion can lead to putting too much pressure on your upper body and, in some cases, can increase the risk of the implants flipping or rippling. Too much physical activity can also affect the way your scars heal, too much movement can cause stress along the scars and disrupt the healing process.
24 hours post-op
Right after the operation, it is normal to feel sore and fatigued. You may feel nauseous and have a tightness in your chest, and there may be some swelling and bruising around the breasts. Losing or gaining sensitivity around the breast area is also a common side effect.
After surgery, the surgeon should recommend that you rest for a few hours in the postoperative room. This recovery time is vital as the anaesthesia in your system will not have fully worn off yet and you will need to be kept under watch while this happens. It is not uncommon for the surgeon to keep you overnight to ensure that you are recovering well after the procedure.
During the first 24 hours, it is entirely normal to feel intense discomfort and/or pain. Taking over-the-counter pain relief is recommended, and your surgeon may also prescribe these and muscle relaxers to help you feel more comfortable.
Five to seven days post-op
During the first week of your recovery, the pain and discomfort should start to decrease and, if directed by your surgeon, you may be able to return to some normal activities as long as they are not too strenuous.
Lifting your arms above your head should still be avoided as this can cause irritation and bleeding along your scars as they heal.
Your implants will be starting to settle in place at this stage so it is vital that you follow any post-op advice that you have been given by your surgeon, such as massaging the breast tissue to help reduce swelling. It is also recommended that you wear a high-impact sports bra for 24 hours of the day as you recover from surgery to help the implants settle.
Three to four weeks post-op
After almost a month of recovery, you should be feeling almost no pain or discomfort, and any swelling or bruising should have dramatically reduced. If there were any complications during the surgery, some bruising is still to be expected. If you are concerned about your bruising or swelling, speak to your surgeon immediately.
At this stage, you should be able to return to most activities, but be wary of over-exerting yourself. Continue to wear a sports bra to aid healing.
Four to six weeks post-op
Most patients are fully recovered by this stage and can resume their regular activities as normal. The breasts should look and feel more natural, and all bruising and swelling should no longer be visible.
Your surgeon should schedule a follow-up appointment with you to check how your implants have settled and if you have recovered well.
Choosing the right implants
There are two main implants that surgeons in the UK will use for breast augmentations. You should be able to choose from the following:
Saline breast implants
Saline breast implants are the more firm implant of the two options and are filled with sterile saltwater. Saline breast implants are generally deemed as safer in the body. This is because, if the implant shell leaks for any reason, the implant will collapse and the saline solution will be absorbed and naturally expelled by the body, safely.
Silicone breast implants
Silicone breast implants are designed to feel more like a natural breast and are filled with silicone gel. If the implant leaks, the gel may remain in the implant shell, or can possibly escape into the breast implant pocket. Silicone breast implants generally need more check-ups than saline implants to check that they are still functioning safely and correctly.
Both implants have their own advantages and disadvantages so it is vital that you check with your surgeon during your consultations which implants will work best for you. Each person’s body is different, and the reason you are wanting a breast augmentation may affect the choice of implant.
What can go wrong with breast augmentation surgery?
Like with all procedures, breast augmentation surgery is not without risks. Common problems of breast surgery include:
- Thick scarring that will not fade
- Hardening of the breast tissue, usually caused by the scar tissue around the implant shrinking
- A rupture caused by the implant leaking
- Noticeable creases and/or rippling in the implant
- Infection that requires the implant(s) to be removed
- Being unable to breast-feed or producing less milk than before the surgery
- Nerve damage
Some of these problems can be temporary and easily resolved, but some will require further attention. If you encounter any of these problems after your breast augmentation, it is important that you contact your surgeon immediately to organise a follow-up consultation. A good surgeon will be able to give sound advice and should be able to help you through these problems.
If you have suffered as a result of negligent breast augmentation, our expert legal team at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors can help. Our team of professionals pride themselves on being able to offer a sympathetic ear and supportive service to our clients.
If you have undergone negligent surgery that has left you suffering, either emotionally, physically, or financially, contact us. A member of our team will be able to speak to you and discuss your options.