Breast Implants 101

Everything You Need to Know About Breast Augmentation

Breast implants - before and after. Dr. Michael Fiorillo

Last year, 290,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed in the U.S. on women from all walks of life. If you are a woman, chances are good that you’ve considered breast augmentation at one point or another in your life, for medical or aesthetic reasons. Whatever your reason for contemplating this procedure, one thing is certain: the decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and it should be something that YOU want for yourself.

During breast augmentation consultations, there are certain questions I am often asked. Here are my answers to some of the most common questions I encounter:

1. Am I a good candidate for breast augmentation? Ideal candidates for breast augmentation surgery are physically and psychologically healthy, not currently pregnant or nursing, realistic in their breast implant surgery expectations, and aware of the risks and complications associated with the surgery.

2. What are the potential risks? Just like with all surgical procedures, breast augmentation surgery does have potential risks, which occur less than 1% of the time. These risks include, but are not limited to: bleeding, infection, changes in nipple or breast sensation, pain, and poor scarring. Prior to your procedure, your doctor will ask you to sign consent forms, ensuring that you fully understand the procedure and any risks or complications.

If you have questions, it’s important that you address them with your plastic surgeon.

3. How long will the implants last? Breast implants are NOT guaranteed to last a lifetime, but they do not have an expiration date either. Newer implants can last 15-20 years. Future surgery may be necessary to replace one or both implants if they break.

Certain life events may influence the appearance of augmented breasts, such as pregnancy, menopause, and weight loss. Post-surgery, it’s important to have your breasts examined often to evaluate the condition of your implants.

4. What are the best breast implants available? Breast implants are generally silicone shells filled with either saline (salt water) or silicone gel. Both implant types are very safe and each offers its own advantages. Your plastic surgeon will help you decide which kind is right for you.

5. Will implants affect my mammogram, or will a mammogram affect my implants? It is possible for breast implants to get in the way during a mammogram. The technician will gently push up the implants and take extra views of your breasts. A mammogram will NOT affect your implants, as they are able to withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure.

6. Can I breastfeed with implants? In most cases, having breast augmentation surgery will not interfere with breastfeeding, as milk ducts are typically not disturbed during the procedure.

If implants are placed through an incision created around the areola, milk ducts could possibly be disrupted.

7. Will implants affect my work or working out? After about five days, most women who work in an office setting can return to work. If your job entails pushing or lifting, it’s best to return to work after a longer rest period. If all goes well, after approximately three weeks, you can return to your cardio and lower-body exercise. At about six weeks post-surgery, most women are back to upper body exercises.

8. How can I prepare myself for surgery? If you decide that breast augmentation is right for you after your consultation, be sure to prepare your body and your home before your procedure. Make sure you have a larger bra and larger, comfortable clothes to wear post-surgery. Prepare your home by stocking up on food and medications, and have things you will need in a convenient spot so you don’t strain yourself getting to them. It’s beneficial to work out your back for a few months prior to surgery.

9. What can I do post-surgery to help me heal? Post-surgery, take it easy. Most patients will feel tired and sore afterwards. Don’t strain yourself and try not to drive for as long as your plastic surgeon recommends. Short, brisk walks, however, will get your blood flowing and help to reduce swelling. Follow your doctor’s orders, and don’t be afraid to call him or her with any questions or concerns that you may have.

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