At my plastic surgery practice in San Antonio, I am often asked about breast augmentation. This popular procedure is a favorite among my patients, and it’s important to do your research ahead of time to determine the best approach to surgery to suit your needs.
In this post, I answer some common questions about breast augmentation, from implant size, alternatives to breast implants, and potential risks. If you are interested in breast augmentation or have additional questions, please request a freeconsultation or call (210) 942-6672 to schedule an appointment to learn more.
How Do I Choose the Right Breast Implant Size?
Choosing an implant size can be daunting. Patients often rely on photos of other patients to choose a desired look, but there are many factors to consider when selecting breast implants, including your physical stature, breast tissue, desired result, and lifestyle.
During your consultation, I utilize an implant sizing system where you can “try on” breast implants of specific volumes. While this is a helpful tool, it should not be solely relied upon for choosing an implant size.
My consultations for breast augmentation incorporate understanding your goals as well as an objective assessment of your frame and chest width. During the consultation, I will discuss your current and desired bra size to help me understand what kind of change you are looking for. In addition, I will measure the width of your desired breast base – this helps determine how wide or tall of an implant your breasts can accommodate as well as helps control how large of a space you will have between your breasts.
Whether an implant goes above or below the muscle is another factor in the overall appearance of your breasts after breast augmentation surgery. This is another aspect I always discuss with my patients when helping find an appropriate implant size and determining the desired outcomes.
It is important to take all of these factors into consideration when deciding upon breast augmentation surgery. I encourage you to schedule a consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon before committing to surgery.
How Does Implant Volume Relate to Cup Size for Breast Augmentation?
Although it is well known that there are no standardized bra cup sizes, when I see patients for a breast augmentation or any breast procedures (breast lift, breast reduction) consultation, I always ask their current bra size and desired bra size after surgery. This can provide insight and perspective as to what your expectations may be – whether you want a modest change or something more pronounced.
Some older studies have suggested that 100cc’s of implant volume may equate to an increase of 1 cup size. More recently, studies that looked at biodimensional changes with breast augmentation found that 130-150cc’s of implant volume often equate to 1 cup-size increase.
Volume alone is not the only characteristic that plays a role in determining bra cup, though. Implant projection (low, moderate, or high) is another factor.
I press upon my patients that there exists variability in post-operative bra size. Breast augmentation is a 3-dimensional change to the breasts, resulting in a change in the overall shape and size of the breasts. It is important to bear in mind that your final bra cup size after breast augmentation may not match your goal, but my focus is on helping you achieve an aesthetically pleasing outcome that suits your body and lifestyle, not just to achieve a specific bra size.
Can I Have a Breast Augmentation Without Implants?
Yes! There are three ways to get more cleavage or upper pole fullness in the breasts:
- 1. Breast implants. Silicone or saline are the most common choices for breast augmentation. However, there are non-implant options available.
- 2. Fat grafting. This procedure combines liposuction with breast surgery to remove fat from one area of your body, like your abdomen, then injecting it into the breasts. First, I perform liposuction to harvest the fat, process the fat for injection, and then I inject the fat into the breasts to emphasizes one’s cleavage and close the gap between the breasts. The results are more understated than breast augmentation with implants. Oftentimes, it is difficult to harvest enough fat to obtain the desired volume change. Fat grafting risks include loss of the fat graft during the healing process, which can result in subsequent breast size asymmetry, breast cysts, as well as a possible need for future breast imaging or biopsy.
- 3. Autoaugmentation. An autoaugmentation is similar to fat grafting in that it uses your own tissue to provide more volume and shape to your cleavage. It uses your own tissue to create a living implant to enhance the breasts.
To learn which breast enhancement procedure is right for you, I recommend you request a consultation.
What Is Breast Augmentation Recovery Like?
I always emphasize that recovery is different for each individual patient; every person interprets discomfort and pain differently. This is particularly true for breast augmentation procedures.
The most common descriptions I hear from patients after breast augmentation is that they feel pressure, tightness, or a feeling of their breasts being engorged (for those who have breast fed in the past) as they recover. These sensations vary depending on how large your breasts are to start with, size of implant being used, whether it is placed above or below the muscle, as well as a variety of other factors.
I tell my patients to limit movement of their elbows above the shoulder and overall use of their arms for the first week or two after surgery – this can reduce the chance of post-operative bleeding, pain, or stress on the new incisions. Time to return to work will depend on the kind of work you perform. During your consultation, I will advise you on how soon you can expect to return to work.
Swelling can persist up to 3-6 months, but the majority will subside about 2 months after surgery. For most patients, I recommend refraining from vigorous exercise, lifting, and other physical activities for 4-6 weeks after surgery.
Depending on your particular circumstances, these numbers can differ, and I make sure to discuss your individualized progress during your post-operative visits to ensure a smooth recovery.
What Are the Risks of Breast Augmentation Surgery?
The most common risks involved with breast augmentation surgery includes infection of the implant, pain and pressure of the breast, changes to sensation of the nipple and breast itself. These changes usually subside within a few weeks to a few months following surgery.
Breast feeding after breast augmentation may be challenging for some women. Mammograms after breast augmentation may be more complicated and may require specialized views for some patients.
Other risks of breast augmentation include implant malposition, a tightening of the implant scar tissue (capsular contracture), as well as implant leaks or ruptures. The FDA also recommends regular monitoring of silicone implants after surgery to check for rupture.
In July of 2019, the FDA identified possible associations between textured implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), breast implant-associated cancers.
In recent years, a collection of symptoms ranging from fatigue, depression, anxiety, joint pain, skin rashes, brain fog, and hair loss have been found to be increasingly common in women with breast implants. These symptoms have been referred to as “breast implant illness,” but the connection has yet to be defined.
Take the Next Step
If you are ready to learn more about your breast augmentation options, please request a free consultation at my San Antonio plastic surgery practice or call (210) 942-6672 to schedule an appointment to meet with me. I look forward to helping you achieve your aesthetic goals.