More and more women are choosing to undergo breast enhancement procedures. There are many reasons why someone would seek breast augmentation – maybe you’re looking to boost your self-esteem or want a younger, more rejuvenated appearance. No matter what your reasons are, it is important to remember that breast enlargement is major surgery. It requires a certain amount of pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery recovery. It’s a journey that takes time and rest in order to achieve your desired results.
What is Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation is an enlargement of the breasts. The procedure involves inserting implants to make the breasts bigger. Implants are filled with silicone or physiological saline. Silicone breast implants, which are filled with silicone gel, are the most commonly used in the UK as they tend to feel more natural. During the procedure, the implants are placed inside the breast to reconstruct, increase size, and enhance overall shape.
Breast Augmentation: Quick Overview
Often, patients will query what they can expect from a breast augmentation procedure. Below we have provided a quick overview, however, each of these important elements will be covered in more detail during your consultation.
What Happens During Breast Augmentation Surgery?
During the procedure, your surgeon will place the implants either behind the breast or behind the muscle the breasts sit on. The surgery itself takes about 90 minutes and is performed under general aesthetic.
Depending on the type of breast implant and the degree of enlargement, your surgeon may use varying surgical incisions. Incisions can be made in the creases under your breasts, in the armpit, or around the nipple. Your surgeon will discuss your incision options with you prior to the surgery date.
There are different techniques for the implants’ incision and placement. So, the area your surgeon will cut and place the breasts can change.
When it comes to placement of the implants, you have the following choices:
- Over the breast muscle – this is suitable for those with enough natural breast tissue to cover the breast implant.
- Under the breast muscle – this tends to give the implant more covering, but it can result in a longer recovery time. You also have the option of a dual-plane which essentially combines the two techniques.
Breast Augmentation Incision Types
Next, you have the incision site. Incision planning is a crucial part of the breast augmentation pre-op checklist. The incisions will dictate where your scars will be.
Here are your incision location options:
The most common incision is within the inframammary fold. This is the crease on the underside of the breasts. You can use any size of implant, and it reduces the risk of breastfeeding difficulties. The downside is that the scar isn’t as hidden as other incision sites.
Your surgeon will make the incision halfway around the lower part of your nipple. The benefit of this incision site is that it’s great for concealing scars and allows for accurate implant positioning. But, the drawback is that it may present difficulty in breastfeeding and changes in nipple sensation.
The transaxiallary breast augmentation method refers to the placement of the incision in the armpit. This technique is often favoured as the incision is hidden from view, meaning the scar will be in the armpit. However, there is less control over what tissues your surgeon can modify.
The belly button incision is also known as the ‘trans-umbilical breast augmentation’ or ‘TUBA’. It is the least common approach when augmenting breasts. While the scar is very well hidden, it can result in poorly positioned implants.
There is no one formula that suits everyone. It always comes down to your natural shape and breast size, as well as the results you’re looking to achieve. Seeking the advice of an experienced and qualified plastic surgeon will help you make the best decision for your breast augmentation.
The Different Types of Breast Implants
There are various different types of breast implants you have available to choose from. Here are the options you have available to consider:
- Size (cc) – breast implants are sized in volume in cc (cubic centimetres). The volume you have will depend on the actual size and shape of your breasts.
- Shape – you have round or anatomical implants. Anatomical implants are shaped like a teardrop with more volume at the bottom. Round implants are the same shape on all sides and are the most popular choice in the UK.
- Textures – you have different textures available, including macro, micro, nano, and smooth. The texture refers to the outer layer of the breast implant. The surface can influence the feel of the implant as well as the long-term success rate.
- Profiles – the profile is how far the implants will project from the chest wall. You have low, moderate, and high projections.
- Breast implant manufacturers/brands – there are a surprising amount of breast implant companies available. We would recommend:
- Nagor – made in Britain
- Sebbin – made in France
- Motiva – made in Costa Rica
- Mentor – made in Belgium
What Size Breast Implant Should You Get?
Choosing the right size implant is a crucial part of your breast augmentation consultation. Your surgeon will use their expertise and knowledge to make recommendations to you after learning more about your needs, body and general health. The size available to you is based on your current breast size, build, and the loose skin and fat around the chest area.
Below is a detailed video covering how we size our patients for breast augmentation:
What are the Benefits of Breast Augmentation Surgery?
If you’re considering breast augmentation surgery, you may want larger breasts, or perhaps weight loss or pregnancy has affected your breasts’ shape. There are a vast array of reasons as to why women want to alter their breasts, but it is a process that requires great consideration and lengthy consultations to ensure the best outcome is achieved. As such, it is important to know both the pros and cons of breast augmentation. Let’s take a look at the benefits first of all:
- With breast augmentation surgery, you can expect advantages such as:
- Enhanced contours of the body
- Enlarged breast size
- Improved breast shape
- Balanced out originally uneven breast sizes
- Boosted confidence and self-esteem
- Feeling more feminine
- The ability to wear different clothes, which again may help you feel happier in your own skin
Breast Augmentation, Breast Implants Before and After Photos
Breast Augmentation in a Mummy Makeover Before and After
Potential Breast Augmentation Risks and Complications
As with every surgery of any kind, there are possible risks and complications to be aware of. Your surgeon will discuss all potential risks and complications of breast augmentation surgery with you in detail during your consultations.
Breast Augmentation Risks
Some potential breast augmentation surgery risks include:
- Anaesthesia risks
- Skin and or fat/necrosis
- Fluid accumulation
- Poor wound healing
- Poor scarring
- Nerve injury
- Contour irregularity
- Over/under correction
- Damage to other structures
- Chest infection
- Need for further surgery
- Unhappiness with size
- Weight of the implant and gravity could mean that there’s a need for a breast lift in the future
One of the complications of breast implants is capsular contracture. This is the formation of a ‘capsule’ of scar tissue around any kind of implant, which is a completely normal part of the healing process. Naturally, the body automatically reacts to any foreign object it detects within it and attempts to isolate said object by creating a barrier of scar tissue around it. In the case of breast implants, this is usually a good thing – the capsule helps to keep the breast implants in place, preventing slippage.
However, in some patients, this capsule of scar tissue becomes unusually hard and starts to contract around the implant. Symptoms of capsular contracture include tightness and feeling like there’s something hard on your chest when you lay down. It can also cause pain and distort the shape of the breast.
There are certain exercises that can help to prevent capsular contracture. Your surgeon will recommend techniques depending on your individual circumstances.
Breast Augmentation Complications
Potential complications after breast augmentation include:
- Bottoming out – this refers to a form of breast implant displacement. The implant sinks down to the lower part of the breast area.
- Double bubble – this is a type of implant deformity where the breast tissue descends instead of the implant.
- Animation – excessive movement or distortion when you do activities that involve your chest muscles.
- Wrinkling – this is when you see wrinkling or rippling over the implant.
- Implant rupture (1% per yer) – if a breast implant ruptures, it will start to leak and deflate. Swelling, soreness, and burning sensation are all signs of a breast implant rupture.
- Malposition – when the implant is sitting in the wrong place.
- Asymmetry – this is when your breast implants are uneven.
- Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma – a type of lymphoma that can develop around the breast implants. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. ALCL 1 in 20,000 textured implants sold (MHRA)
- Change in feeling of breasts – the majority of patients experience some change in the feeling of their breasts.
There is also the possibility of requiring revision surgeries in some cases, such as:
- Breast implant removal, with or without replacement.
- Capsule removal or surgical release of the scar tissue around the breast implant (capsulectomy)
- Scar or wound revision, such as surgical removal of excess scar tissue.
- Drainage of a hematoma by inserting a needle or tube through the skin to drain the collection of blood.
- Repositioning of the implant by surgically opening the incision and moving the implant.
- Biopsy/cyst removal by inserting a needle through the skin or cutting through the skin to remove a lump.
The Breast Implant Process
Breast augmentation is a journey that follows many steps. From determining patient eligibility to allowing for recovery – the process is stringent – and for good reason. This is because you and your surgeon should spend time exploring the best options for you, which will in turn make the end result well worth the wait.
Here’s an overview of the process and some frequently asked questions we receive at Harley Clinic:
Who Can Have Breast Augmentation Surgery?
For anyone thinking about getting breast implants, the ideal candidate is in good mental and physical health. Patients should be a non-smoker with a stable weight and not pregnant or breastfeeding. The breast augmentation age limit is anyone over 18 years old.
Apart from health-related factors, any patient who wants larger breasts and is currently unhappy with their breasts’ appearance is a good candidate. Having an open mind and realistic expectations will help you get the most out of this procedure.
Preparing for Your Breast Augmentation Surgery
There are several things you can do to prepare for your breast augmentation surgery. Your surgeon will advise you to stop smoking a considerable amount of time before your surgery. This is because smoking increases the chances of serious complications and can hinder proper wound healing.
You will need to stop taking supplements and certain medications, which your surgeon will discuss with you. You must be completely open and honest during your consultation so that your surgeon can give the best and safest advice to help you prepare for your surgery.
With your breast augmentation surgery just around the corner, you need to do the following:
- Arrange transport to and from the procedure
- Book time off work
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Stock up on easy to prepare and healthy meals
- Follow fasting instructions before surgery
Breast Augmentation Surgery Recovery
Enlarging your breast size is a type of major surgery that requires a post-surgery recovery plan to promote healing. Immediately following your surgery, you will feel discomfort and pain. Your surgeon will advise you on the best pain management for you to follow. It’s normal to experience swelling, fatigue, bruising and tightness in your chest in the first 24 hours. During this time, we recommend you have at least one bed rest day in order to avoid strenuous activity and allow your body to recover from the serious surgery it has undergone.
Following your surgery, you will need to rest a lot and not rush into anything. We often get asked: ‘How long is recovery after breast augmentation surgery?’ In most cases, the majority of patients need up to two weeks off work to recover. You can start with light activities around the house after a week and be back to normal activities in six weeks. You should see the final results around six months after your surgery.
While it’s essential to get plenty of rest, you will need to get moving as soon as you can. A little walk in the garden or around your bedroom is crucial. This is so you can recirculate blood flow and start to feel like your normal self again. Following your surgery, you will need to wear a supportive bra for several weeks.
Breast Augmentation Post-Surgery Recovery Timeline
Here is a breakdown of the breast augmentation recovery journey to give you an idea of what to expect:
- Week 1: Return to work in 7-10 days if it doesn’t require strenuous activities.
- Week 2-3: Return to normal activities.
- Week 4: Resume gentle exercise but still avoid strenuous exercise.
- Week 6: Can start doing more strenuous exercise. Your implants will drop into a more natural position, and you will have an appointment with your surgeon for a full evaluation.
- 6 Months: Scars will begin to face, and you will start to see the final results.
Breast Augmentation Scars: What Will They Look Like After Surgery?
length, they are usually 3cm long for medium breast implants and 4cm for heavy breast implants. Over time, your scars will gradually turn from red to pink then white.
Do not be alarmed if your scars are still slightly red 2-3 months post breast augmentation surgery. This is completely normal. The colour fades to white after about 8-12 months. The scar location depends on the type of surgery and the incision placement used.
What Happens at Your Follow-Up Breast Augmentation Appointments?
Your follow-up breast augmentation appointments are an essential part of the recovery process.
Here’s a general timeline you can expect of when you will see your surgeon after your breast augmentation surgery:
- One week post-op
- Two week post-op
- One month post-op
- Three months post-op
- Six months post-op
You will see your doctor within one week of your surgery. They will likely schedule another visit for the following week. The next appointments will then be one month after, then usually three months, and six months after your surgery.
The reason that you have multiple follow-up appointments across several weeks is for the following:
- Examine incisions
- Remove sutures
- Check for complications
- Check on appearance
- Monitor healing and cosmetic appearance
A high level of aftercare is at the heart of the Harley Clinic in London. That’s why you only deal with your surgeon the entire time. We don’t have any patient coordinators. You can simply pick up the phone and call your surgeon if you have any concerns.
Can I Get a Breast Augmentation and Breast Lift at the Same Time?
Many patients choose to combine the two procedures for the ultimate breast rejuvenation treatment. Combining a breast lift and breast augmentation is a great way to get the most out of your surgery and maximise results. If you want a look with a lot of upper fullness, combining a breast lift with breast implants or breast fat transfer works well. If this is something you want to explore further, your surgeon will be able to discuss this with you in more depth.
11 Breast Augmentation Aftercare Tips
There are several things you can do to make the recovery process as seamless as possible. Most of these are simple to implement, and your surgeon will be able to guide you through specifics depending on your needs.
1. Get Plenty of Rest
The road to recovery starts with resting. As soon as you are discharged, make sure you relax at home immediately and don’t do any exercise. You want to give your body the best chance of healing, so take the time you need for a few days post-surgery.
2. Sleep on Your Back
This will be a natural choice after breast augmentation of any kind, as you won’t want to put any pressure or strain on your chest post-surgery. It will also be more painful to sleep on your stomach, and increase the risk of implant displacement – so we recommend avoiding this at all costs. Making sure you’re sleeping on your back or your sides is the best choice in order to aid recovery.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
Believe it or not, the food you consume can have a lot to do with how you feel post breast augmentation surgery. By eating a balanced and varied diet, you are giving your body the fuel it needs to recover. This should include vegetables, fruit and plenty of protein. We also recommend taking a multivitamin to strengthen your body and aid healing.
4. Get Moving
Around one day post-op, we recommend you start taking short walks. This should not be strenuous – even walking for just a few minutes in the garden can help massively. It’s important to get moving as soon as you can, but it is important to listen to your body and only do this in small doses if it’s all you can manage.
5. Wear your TED stockings
Thrombo-Embolic Deterrent Hose, or T.E.D. hose as they are popularly known, are used for patients who are non-ambulatory (persons without the ability to move around), especially immediately after surgery, to help the blood flow freely in the legs to prevent blood clots.
Depending on your operation, you will need to wear your TED stockings for 1 or 2 weeks. You will also be given calf exercises to promote circulation.
6. Wear Your Garment
Wearing a compression garment after your breast augmentation or breast lift applies even pressure across the treatment area, preventing excessive buildup of fluids. The garment also helps your body absorb any accumulating fluid. Without it, post-op swelling can linger much longer than necessary. You will need to wear your supportive garment day and night for six weeks following your surgery.
7. Avoid Strenuous Exercise for Six Weeks
Although you can introduce gentle exercise a few weeks after your surgery, you should avoid strenuous exercise and upper body exercise for six weeks. Remember to listen to your body and don’t push yourself too much. You’re still healing, and the length of this journey will be very patient-dependent.
8. Don’t Immerse the Area in Water
Avoid immersing the surgery area in water, this involves taking baths for example. While this may seem difficult to do, you are able to shower the day after your surgery. Your surgeon will explain ways you can care for your garment and keep your dressing dry.
9. Stay Hydrated
Water is what helps thin the blood and move nutrients and oxygen through the body. That’s why it’s crucial to drink a lot of water after an injury or surgery, so that these cell-repairing nutrients can be easily brought to the recovering area. This is why staying hydrated is crucial for the healing process.
10. Communicate Any Concerns
Breast Augmentation Patient Reviews at the Harley Clinic, London
Before and After Breast Augmentation Surgery
Breast Enlargement London
At Harley Street Clinic, we pride ourselves on our world-class facilities, as well as our caring, compassionate and high-quality care. Check out our extensive list of patient reviews for more information on what you can expect from our clinic.
We also update our cosmetic surgery blog regularly to help answer any prospective and existing patient queries.
Further Breast Augmentation Reading:
- Effects of Textured Breast Implants: What You Need to Know
- How Do You Find the Right Bra Size After Breast Augmentation?
- Before and After Breast Implant Photos: 5 Things to Look for
- How to Choose Between Breast Augmentations, Lifts, and Reductions
- What is Breast Re-Augmentation?
- 7 Questions to Ask Before Your Breast Augmentation
- Can You Breastfeed After Breast Surgeries?
- How to Prepare for Breast Augmentation Surgery
- What You Need to Know About Breast Screening with Breast Implants
- How Can You Treat Capsular Contracture?