Breast augmentation is a straightforward procedure used to increase the size and improve the shape and contour of the breasts. It may also be used to correct asymmetry between the two sides or to correct mild cases of breast ptosis (droop).
A silicone prosthesis is usually used and inserted below the breast tissue through a short incision in the crease below the breast. This usually heals extremely well. In some cases, particularly in thin patients, the implant will be inserted partially under the pectoral muscle of the chest to improve the contour of the upper pole of the breast and give a smoother “take-off”.
There are a number of different types and shapes of implant and the particular choice and size of implant will be recommended after careful assessment of the patient and their individual requirements.
Silicone prostheses are most commonly used as they provide the most natural look and feel. The silicone is present as a “cohesive gel”. This is a semi-solid state that doesn’t leak out if the shell of the implant is pierced. Silicone implants have been shown to be safe after extensive investigation and no evidence has been produced to demonstrate that they cause harmful effects. They do not affect breast-feeding or impair breast screening in future life. When the radiologist is informed of their presence special screening views are taken in two directions to demonstrate the breast tissue.
The implants used are either round or anatomical (tear-drop) in shape. Round implants are suitable in the majority of cases but anatomical implants may be useful in thinner patients with very little breast tissue. In these patients anatomical implants improve the contour of the upper pole of the breast where there is little breast tissue to cover the upper portion of the implant.
The particular size and shape of implant best suited to obtain the required result will be discussed with the patient at consultation. Sample implants can be placed inside a larger bra to give an indication of the expected result from the augmentation surgery.
Surgery is performed under a short general anaesthetic as a day case or with one night in hospital. A sports bra is worn post-operatively and should be worn for 6 weeks to provide support and hold the implants in the correct position as healing occurs. Sports should usually be avoided for 3-4 weeks as the implants settle and gradually resumed thereafter.
Breast augmentation can be used to correct milder cases of breast ptosis (droop) but more extensive cases usually require a mastopexy (breast uplift) procedure.