Breast Enlargement

A woman's midriff with the lower portion of the breasts visible

Breast enlargement, or augmentation mammoplasty, enhances the body contour of a woman who is unhappy with her small breast size. Other purposes of this procedure include:

  • To correct reduction in breast volume after pregnancy.
  • To balance a difference in breast size.
  • As a reconstructive technique following breast surgery.

Augmentation mammoplasty is done on an outpatient basis in Chicago Surgical Specialists’ surgical center and is usually performed using general anesthesia. An implant (prosthesis) is placed under the breast tissue or under the muscle through an incision that is made under the breast or around the nipple.

When the implant is placed sub muscularly (or beneath the pectoralis muscle under the breast), there is a lower chance of capsular contracture (i.e. contraction of the tissue capsule surrounding the implant), and mammography is more reliable. There is also less risk of visible or palpable implant edges. However, some believe the implant has a more natural appearance when placed above the muscle, directly under the breast tissue. Your plastic surgeon can help you decide which placement and type of implant will work best for you.

Determining Implant Size

Realistic expectations of this procedure are important. Women often think of breast size in terms of bra cup size. If you are currently a size “A” and wish to be a size “C”, there must be adequate existing breast tissue coverage; otherwise you will be cautioned about the potential for visible or palpable implant edges and other possible risks.

Choosing implant size is done in collaboration with your surgeon, giving careful consideration to all of your individual anatomic needs.

Post Operative Care

You must have someone drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours after surgery. You will experience some pain the first day or two, which is easily controlled with medication. Some tightness in the breast area is normal as your body adjusts to the implants.

You will have some upper body restrictions immediately post-op. During the first six weeks after surgery, you must wear a bra at all times (except when showering). Avoid heavy lifting for four to six weeks. Moderate exercise, such as walking or stationary biking, is allowed after two weeks. Vigorous exercise, such as jogging or aerobics, may be resumed at six weeks. You will most likely be able to return to work within a few days, but you will need to avoid any strenuous activity for at least four to six weeks.

During recovery, the breasts will be somewhat swollen. Within several weeks, the actual shape and size will be evident. You may notice some asymmetry; however, most breasts are naturally somewhat asymmetrical.

Possible Complications

Delayed wound healing may occur in persons with diabetes or a history of radiation or autoimmune disease, or in those who smoke. Other complications could include capsular contracture (i.e. contraction of the tissue capsule surrounding the implant), bleeding, infection, or irregularity of the skin. It is important to have a thorough medical evaluation before surgery to discuss your health and these potential risks.

The End Result

Augmentation mammoplasty is a safe procedure that has produced pleasing and satisfying results for many women. An honest discussion between patient and doctor about surgical goals and the surgical process is vital to achieving the highest satisfaction. A preliminary consultation can help you determine if breast augmentation is right for you.