Breast Augmentation


Breast augmentation is a cosmetic surgery procedure that uses implants to enlarge or change the shape of the breasts. It is a popular option for women that feel their breasts are too small and want to enhance their figure. Women may have breast augmentation to correct unequally sized breasts or loss of breast volume following pregnancy. Breast augmentation is a reconstructive option following breast removal surgery for cancer. A breast lift may be performed in addition to breast augmentation to improve the shape and position of aging or sagging breasts.

A breast implant is made of a silicone-elastic shell filled with silicone or saline (a salt-water solution). In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reversed the ban on silicone filled breast implants after research did not associate silicone with substantial health risks. Breast implants come in various shapes and sizes.

There are a few surgical techniques for inserting breast implants. Breast implants may be inserted through an incision made at the crease underneath the breast, in the armpit, in the areola (the dark skin around the nipple), or through the belly button. Breast implants may be placed underneath the chest wall muscle or behind the breast tissue. Every effort is made to assure that any resulting scars are hidden.

At your initial consultation, your doctor will help you decide which method and size of breast implant is right for you. Your doctor will evaluate your breast size, shape, and skin integrity. He or she will perform a breast examination and may recommend a pre-surgery mammogram.


Breast augmentation is most commonly an outpatient procedure. Breast augmentation can be performed at a doctor’s surgical suite, hospital, or outpatient surgery center. It may be performed with general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation.

After making the incision, your doctor will create a pocket to place the breast implant in. Your surgeon will carefully center the implants under your nipples. At the end of the procedure, temporary drainage tubes may be inserted to remove excess fluid and promote healing. The incisions are closed with small stitches, and the area is gently wrapped with bandages.

You will receive medication for post procedure pain. After a few days, you will wear a surgical bra to support your breasts. Your stitches will be removed in a week to ten days. Your doctor will gradually increase your activity level. You may go back to work within a few days following your breast augmentation. It may take up to five months for swelling to resolve and several months for incision lines to fade.
Following breast augmentation, you will receive regular examinations by your doctor. The implants may need to be replaced over time. You should continue to receive regular mammogram screenings, but be sure to inform the provider that you have breast implants.


As with any surgery, infection is a possible but uncommon complication. Although not common, encapsulation can occur, which may make the breast unnaturally firm. This condition may require surgical correction. In cases of significant trauma, a breast implant can break, which may require additional surgery to correct the problem. Your doctor will discuss the potential complications with you prior to surgery.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit

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