Breast enlargement surgery is a cosmetic surgical procedure conducted to enlarge the breast by inserting an implant, made from either saline or silicone gel, underneath the breast tissue or pectoral muscle. The procedure, also known as breast augmentation, is the most common form of cosmetic surgery in the UK, US, and probably the world. The surgery is particularly popular among younger women, with almost half of all breast enlargements procedures performed on women between the ages of 19 and 34 years.
Women choose to have breast enlargement surgery for a variety of reasons. However, we can safely surmise that the primary reason revolves around aesthetic improvement (with underlying psychological factors). The procedure is, after all, classified as a cosmetic one. Most breast augmentation surgeries are performed for one or a combination of the following reasons:
Since time immemorial, large breasts have been associated with fertility and sexual health. Women with larger breasts tend to have more positive body image, which translates to better self-esteem. In one particular eye opening study, University of Florida’s researcher Dr. Cynthia Figueroa-Haas discovered that women who have undergone breast augmentation recorded a remarkable increase from 20.7 to 24.9 in the Rosenberg 30-point Self-Esteem Scale. In addition, they also recorded a notable increase of 4.2 in the 36-point Female Sexual Function Index.
Micromastia, or mammary hypoplasia, is a congenital condition which causes the underdevelopment of a woman's breast, either one or both. Modern breast enlargement technology can now easily resolve this issue.
Fluctuation in oestrogen levels, especially during puberty, can result in breasts growing asymmetrically, i.e., at different rates and directions. This could result in breasts that have different mass, and are shaped differently or irregularly.
Change in body weight can dramatically alter the appearance of breasts, and depending on previous and current body shape, breasts can look decidedly out of place.
Even before the apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton’s head, we have known that nature, time and biological wear and tear will cause the loss of volume and perkiness of breasts.
Mastectomy is a procedure of surgically removing part of or the entire breast, usually due to cancer. Breast enlargement, along with skin grafting and reconstruction of the nipple, are considered vital towards a cancer survivor’s long term mental and psychological health.
Currently, saline and silicone gel are the most popular implant options. Saline implants were first introduced in the late 1980s, and was favoured by many owing to the fact that they can be inserted through much smaller incisions compared to silicone gel implants. They also feel more natural to the touch.
However, in recent years, cohesive silicone gel implants have made great technological strides. Newer models rival, and even supersede, saline implants in the area of the touch test. They are also increasingly more stable, less prone to ruptures, leakages and rippling. The silicone gel also won’t flow out in such unfortunate instances. Many believe that in time, silicone gel implants will dominate the market completely.
Depending on the quality, implants can last anywhere between 10 and 15 years, and the deflation rate (loss of volume) during the period ranges from 5% to 7%.
Silicone gel-filled breast implants
In terms of shape, round-shaped implants tend to create a stronger first impression owing to their perkiness and full-bodied shape. However, up close, teardrop-shaped implants work better as they are more anatomically accurate and can be customised (width, depth and length).
In addition, patients are also sometimes asked to choose between textured and smooth implants. Many in the industry believe that textured implants are more resistant to capsular contracture, but there is no conclusive evidence behind this assumption.
Breast augmentation is a relatively low risk surgery. Doctors might even perform the procedure on an outpatient basis for healthy and physically active patients with no history of high blood pressure. It is normal for patients to feel a slight discomfort or mild pain for three to five days after surgery. Doctors will usually prescribe them with painkillers as well as antibiotics to help with the recovery.
Normal physical activity may be resumed one day after surgery, but patients are strongly advised against doing any heavy lifting or high impact workouts for three weeks.
Common post-surgery complications that patients should keep an eye out for include
• Excessive bleeding and clotting (hematoma)
• Bacterial infection (pus and rotting smell)
• Swelling (especially if there is reddening of the skin)
• Loss of sensation on or around the operated area (nerve damage)
• Nausea (mainly caused by anaesthetic)
Please consult your doctor if any of the symptoms above appear.