Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation surgery is any procedure that enhances or restores the size and shape of a woman’s breasts. It’s one of the most popular cosmetic procedures around the world.

Like most women considering breast augmentation, you probably have a lot of questions. We’ve drawn on the expertise of RealSelf doctors to bring you answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What Is Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation is an invasive surgery that increases or restores the size of the breasts or significantly alters their shape. It’s typically done to enhance a naturally small bust, as part of reconstruction following mastectomy, or in combination with a lift on breasts that have sagged due to weight loss, pregnancy, or aging. “The intended result is a size and shape that you feel comfortably and naturally fits your body,” says 

Augmentation can be performed using silicone or saline breast implants or through fat transfer.

Is Breast Augmentation Right for Me?

You must be in good health to be considered for any kind of cosmetic surgery. If you have a heart condition, lung condition, or a neurological disorder, you may not be a good candidate.

Optimal candidates for breast augmentation are close to their ideal weight, preferably with a BMI of 30 or less. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop smoking for at least six weeks before and after surgery, as nicotine impairs the healing process. Depending on your body, health, and desired results, you may be a better candidate for one type of augmentation over another. Meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon, who can help you determine which option is right for you. 


What Are the Options for Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation can be done with implants or through fat transfer.

Implant Options
Breast implants come in saline and silicone varieties, as well as many sizes, shapes, and textures.

    Saline implants are outer shells that are implanted into the chest, then filled with sterile salt water. In the event that the implant leaks, the saline will be absorbed and naturally removed by the body. 
    Silicone implants contain an elastic gel that may feel more like natural breast tissue. They may require a longer incision for placement, and you may need regular check-ups to ensure they’re functioning properly because silicone is not naturally absorbed in the event of a leak.
    Cohesive Gel Silicone implants are also known as “gummy bear” or “form-stable” implants. Filled with a silicone gel that’s thicker than traditional silicone, they typically hold their shape better but require a longer incision.

Implants can be placed above or below the pectoral muscle, through a number of incision locations. The RealSelf Glossary of Breast Augmentation Terminology provides more information on these options.

Fat Transfer
Fat transfer, or fat grafting, is a procedure that involves harvesting fat cells from one area of the body — commonly the stomach, hips, or thighs — and injecting them into another. Fat is removed from the body using liposuction, processed and purified through centrifugation, and injected into the breasts.We expect about 70% of the injected fat to stay in the area.

Breast Lift

A lift is frequently used in combination with implants in order to restore fullness in the upper part of the breasts. This is optional based on your individual needs.A breast lift is performed by “removing the excess skin and restructuring the breast tissue.


Will Insurance Cover Breast Augmentation?

In most cases, breast augmentation is considered an elective cosmetic procedure and not a medically necessary treatment. For this reason, augmentation is typically not covered by insurance unless it’s being performed as part of reconstruction after breast cancer. 

Discuss your options with your plastic surgeon and insurance provider. If coverage is not available and you don’t want to pay out of pocket, payment plans may be available through a financing company. 

How Do I Choose the Right Size for Breast Augmentation?
Breast implants and the fat used for fat transfer are both measured in cubic centimeters (ccs). The same size of implant or amount of fat will look different on each individual. It’s important to discuss expectations and desired results with your surgeon so he or she can help you decide what’s right for you. Many doctors use digital imaging software as a way to see how you might look with different levels of ccs.

How Long Will My Breast Augmentation Results Last?

In most cases, breast augmentation results last a long time. However, it’s important to monitor the status of your implants on a regular basis. Those with saline implants can check their status on their own by simply looking in the mirror. Leakage will be obvious as a ruptured implant will deflate and the saline absorbed by the body. Women with silicone implants are recommended to have an MRI three years after initial placement, and then every two years thereafter to ensure they’re functioning correctly. 

If you chose to undergo breast augmentation using fat transfer, you might lose some volume over time. Your breasts may also change due to pregnancy, weight fluctuations, hormonal factors, or aging.

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