Cosmetic breast surgery is any of several different procedures to change the shape and appearance of a breast. The surgery may be done to reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy as well as to enhance personal appearance.
The types of cosmetic breast surgery include:
Breast augmentation for women, also called breast enlargement cosmetic surgery, is the most common of type of cosmetic breast surgery. The procedure places implants filled with silicone or saline solution into the breast area to create the desired size and shape. The implants may be placed behind the chest wall muscles (submuscular) or directly behind the breast tissue (subglandular). Usually the implants are inserted through an incision made on the underside of the breast, or sometimes around the areolar, or under the arm. A new method uses a small incision near the belly button to insert an implant that is guided into position with an endoscope (a long tube with a lens on the end). Once in the breast, the surgeon fills the implant with saline solution.
Breast lift, or mastopexy, raises breasts that are sagging or loose, usually as a result of pregnancy, breast-feeding, and age. The procedure reshapes the contour of the breast by moving the areola and nipple and removing excess skin. Some women chose to combine a lift with breast augmentation at the same time to make their breasts larger and fuller, replacing volume that has been lost with the changes in their body. Women who are pregnant, expect to have more children, or are planning to lose weight should consider postponing breast lift surgery.
Breast reduction, or reduction mammoplasty, may be a solution for women with extremely large breasts (macromastia). Reasons to consider the procedure include pain, nerve problems, cosmetic problems, difficulty buying clothes, inability to participate in activities and unwanted or embarrassing attention.
Men who develop male breast enlargement (gynecomastia) sometimes seek breast reduction treatment to restore a more masculine profile.
Breast reconstruction is cosmetic surgery to rebuild the breast, usually after mastectomy done as a treatment for cancer or other disease. Like breast augmentation, the procedure uses implants to build the breast into the desired size and shape.
Prior to surgery, the plastic surgeon will perform a breast examination that may include a mammogram or breast X-rays. Use of anticoagulant medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and blood thinners is typically discontinued if ordered by the doctor. Instructions on the day of surgery will cover eating and drinking and the type of clothing to wear. Since the surgery is done on an outpatient bases, it is necessary to have assistance driving home and for a few days following the procedure.
It is important to remember that while cosmetic breast surgery can restore or improve an attractive shape and appearance, a positive self-image, and confidence— emotional stability and a sense of fulfillment grow from many other factors. People considering cosmetic breast surgery should discuss all options as well as benefits and expectations with an experienced plastic surgeon.
Prognosis for Cosmetic Breast Surgery
The prognosis for cosmetic breast surgery is very good in the large majority of procedures. Most women feel better about their appearance and have an improved self-image. Any pains or skin problems usually disappear. Surgical scars are permanent but usually not visible because the incision is made on the underside of the breast, and the scars fade over time.
Advances in pre-operative evaluation and surgical procedures have reduced the chances of complications from surgery. However, there are some risks associated with cosmetic breast surgery, such as
- Loss of feeling in the nipples
- Normal scar tissue around the implant becomes thick possible causing the breast to become hard, changing the shape of the breast, and pain.
- Leaking or breaking of the implant
- A “rippling” of the implant that is visible in the skin
- The two breasts are not the same shape or size
- Nipples are unevenly positioned
Some women experience an emotional letdown after surgery if they do not feel their breasts are perfect, or other people do not react as hoped.
Follow-up care for cosmetic breast surgery includes returning to the doctor to check on healing and remove sutures. After surgery, a woman may need to wear a surgical bra for a time, and then switch to a special bra to help reshape her breasts. Additional home care may involve medication to reduce pain and massaging the breasts to help reduce hardening of the scar tissue around the implant.
In addition, it is important to discuss with the doctor the risks associated with all surgery. These include the potential of excess bleeding, reactions to anesthesia and other medications, infection, heart attack, stroke, breathing problems, and blood clots that form in the legs or lungs.