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Having a Breast Augmentation Procedure

Having a Breast Augmentation Procedure

Dale Reynolds, MD

Breast augmentation is a procedure used to enhance the size of a woman’s breast or to obtain more symmetry. For many women, the confidence boost this procedure gives them makes the potential side effects of breast implants are well worth it. Childbirth often causes significant deflation and sometimes droopiness of the breasts which can often be reversed by filling this deflated breast with more volume. Often during development, a significant amount of breast tissue doesn’t form leaving ladies feeling less feminine

In November of 2007, the FDA re- approved use of silicone implants for all women over 22 years old having a breast augmentation procedure, which ended a 14 year restriction due to the side effect of breast implants made from silicone experienced by many women. Advances in silicone implants mean that it is now safe to use silicone or saline implants for a breast augmentation procedure depending upon patient preference and anatomy.

The implants can be placed above or below the chest muscle if silicone implants are used. If saline implants are used, most plastic surgeons will place them under the muscle. Placing them above the muscle decreases post-operative pain and may decrease distortion during heavy chest muscle activity (important for body builders). Placing the implants below the muscle hides the upper portion of the implants (especially saline) and offers slightly more tissue coverage if tissue in this area was very deficient. Placing them below the muscle also decreases visibility or rippling of the implants.

Short-term side effects of breast implants include soreness, swelling, change in nipple sensation (increased or decreased sensation), and bruising. Most of these resolve completely within a few weeks to months. Some potential long-term problems include deflation, leak, rupture, capsular contracture (abnormal scar tissue around the implant), and rippling. All implants develop a capsule around them, but some can become hard or painful and may require removing this scar tissue. An MRI can confirm leakage of a silicone implant if suspected. Saline implants usually deflate entirely when there is a leak or rupture, so no additional studies are required. The implants will most likely have to be replaced at some point, but it is not necessary to change them at a fixed interval if there are no problems.

The breast augmentation procedure is performed as an outpatient, usually under a general anesthetic and takes about one hour. Breast augmentation recovery is typically short. Most patients experience mild to moderate soreness that improves significantly 2-3 days after surgery, and most patients are back to work 3-4 days after surgery. Most activities can resume immediately, but there are some restrictions on strenuous activity for 3-6 weeks. After 6 weeks, there are no restrictions. After undergoing a breast augmentation procedure, mammography continues at the same intervals, but a slightly different technique will be used. 

This article, printed in the El Paso Times, was written by Dr. Reynolds, who is the local Plastic Surgery expert for the newspaper.

Contact Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center of El Paso to schedule a consultation for a breast augmentation procedures.

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