First, let me give you a disclaimer- I have not personally had a breast augmentation. But until I find a patient who will guest-author on my blog and tell it from her point of view, I can at least give you details on what the steps you would go through are like. If you’re thinking about breast implants, my hope is that this will help you have an idea of what questions to ask your surgeon.
Step 1- the Consultation
When I first meet patients, I need to know what their specific goals are. Have they always had small breasts, or did things change after having children? Do they want just a bigger size, or a lift as well? Do they have a significant other involved in the decision-making process? These are some of the questions I ask, along with taking a detailed medical history. The examination itself consists of a basic breast exam, along with taking several measurements which guide me toward what style of implant I will use. Below are some of the questions I’ll have for you during our consultation:
- Silicone or Saline? Both are safe, and both have similar risks of implant rupture. Silicone is only FDA-approved for women over 22, so if you’re younger than that, it’s an easy decision. If we need different size implants from one side to another, saline is also more adjustable. After that, it largely comes down to cost, and feel. You’ll get to see each type of implant during your visit.
- What size? I can’t guarantee a cup size, simply because different bra manufacturers size differently. But we spend time deciding on what size implant to use by trying out several different gel sizers, which are placed in the bra to give you an idea of what different sized implants would achieve.
Step 2- the Surgery
Breast augmentation is done as an outpatient surgery. It takes anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on the surgeon. If you’re having a lift as well, it may take longer. After your surgery you weill have a postoperative bra on, and you may have an ACE wrap on as well. These dressings generally stay on for at least 3 days, and possibly up to a week. You will be given pain medications. You may also have the option of having a pain pump, which is a device that slowly drips numbing medication into the surgical site. These pain pumps come out after three days, which means that most of your recovery has very little discomfort. You unfortunately will not be able to shower until after your first dressing change, so plan on sitting in the bathtub and washing your hair in the sink for the first few days.
Step 3- the Recovery
Patients that have a breast augmentation generally only need a few days off of work. This means if you can schedule your surgery before a long weekend, you may not miss much work at all. If your job requires heavy lifting, however, be aware that you will not be able to lift more than 10 lbs for up to 6 weeks.
Working out will also be restricted for several weeks. After two weeks you will likely be able to start light workouts like walking, but heavy aerobic activity (spinning classes, running) will have to wait at least a month. And lifting weights will have to wait at least 6 weeks.
After you have a breast augmentation, it is very important that you wear a bra with good support. Your surgeon can give you specific recommendations. But if you don’t provide support for your new implants, they will eventually stretch out the skin and tissue holding them in place, meaning they won’t look the same after several years.
Read more about breast augmentation at the American Society of Plastic Surgey website.
Do you have any questions about breast augmentation?