The Pros and Cons of a Breast Augmentation
Approximately 1.8 million plastic surgeries are performed in the United States annually, and breast augmentation continues to be one of the top five most popular surgical interventions.
There is an ongoing debate on whether plastic surgery options such as breast augmentation pose greater risks than benefits, but studies show that major complications incorporate less than 0.1% of all surgeries.
Breast augmentation has proven benefits that improve your quality of life, marital satisfaction, and much more. We will dive into all of this below, so keep reading and learn more about the pros and cons of breast augmentation surgery and some of the most frequently asked questions!
What Is Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation, or breast implant surgery, is a surgical procedure that enhances breast size, helps to reconstruct breasts after mastectomy, or to correct congenital defects. The FDA has approved two types of breast implants, including:
- Silicone gel-filled
Surgeons can customize the shape, size, or fullness of the implant that fulfills the aesthetic look you want. Breast implants can last for many years and have better longevity depending on surgical expertise, implant type, and adherence to aftercare instructions.
Getting Breast Augmentation Surgery
During breast augmentation surgery, small surgical incisions open a pocket underneath the breast or chest tissue. Once the pocket is created, the surgeon places the implant and fills it (if indicated for a saline breast augmentation).
Our board-certified anesthesiologist is present during the entirety of the case as this procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia. Breast augmentation surgery takes approximately 60-90 minutes in most circumstances and if a breast lift, or mastopexy, is being performed at the same time, the amount of time can double.
After assessing size, shape, and symmetry, the surgeon closes the incision if the appearance is to their satisfaction, and you can begin your aftercare guidelines after returning to home the same day.
Pros of Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation has a myriad of benefits that many people find outweigh the cons. Here are some of the benefits we’ll talk about below:
- Long-lasting results
- Improved self-esteem and confidence
- Restores breast volume
- It can be combined with other surgeries
Let’s dive into the specifics more.
Breast implants provide long-lasting and positive results. A post-approval FDA study released in 2019 examined 99,993 patients, noting only a 11.7% revision rate for silicone implants after seven years.
One of the most common reasons requiring surgical revisions and operation is for capsular contraction. Over 92% of patients did not require reoperation for this reason.
In this particular study, the revision rates for silicone implants were fewer than for saline implants. The researchers advised that long-term safety is a determinant between the patient and qualified surgeon.
In some cases, patients’ implants can last upwards of 20 or more years.
Breast Implants Improve Self-Esteem
Most patients choose breast augmentation because they don’t like the appearance of their breasts or require a revision following a previous surgery. Although surgery should never be a primary tool for improving self-confidence, studies indicate promising results when it comes to breast augmentation and improved quality-of-life factors.
While the reasons for considering breast augmentation surgery vary, most patients have improved self-confidence, a boost in sexual satisfaction, and a more positive self-image after undergoing breast augmentation surgery. Because there is no exercise or diet regime that can increase cleavage or add volume to the size of the breasts, undergoing breast augmentation surgery has an almost instantaneous sense of satisfaction after waking up from surgery.
Breast Implants Restore or Enhance Volume
Arguably the most obvious benefit of a breast augmentation is restoring or enhancing volume. Reduced breast tissue volume can occur for several reasons, including:
- Declining estrogen levels (e.g., menopause)
- Fluctuations in weight
- Substance use
Substances and medications can affect skin elasticity, affecting breast tissue and leading to a drooping or sagging appearance. Gravity and natural aging play one of the most critical roles in older women opting for a breast implant. Younger women may notice changes in breast appearance after childbirth, likely from breastfeeding or changes in breast size during pregnancy.
While breast augmentation enhances volume, independently it does not help with sagging. To reposition the breasts to a more appropriate or aesthetically pleasing location, your doctor may suggest a breast lift, or mastopexy at the same time as your breast augmentation.
Breast Augmentation Combination Surgeries
Another pro to breast augmentation surgery is the ability to combine it with other procedures. If you would like to reduce the size of areolas, correct an inverted nipple or wish to combine a breast lift and breast augmentation, a qualified surgeon can accomplish these common procedures simultaneously. The ideal candidate for this combination of surgeries is a woman who has had a baby.
If you notice drooping (whether from pregnancy or age) and would like a larger cup size, breast augmentation plus a mastopexy is ideal, but you will need a thorough surgical consultation first.
Cons of Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation has two major cons:
- Side effects and risks
Since it is a surgical procedure, it should be expected there will be risks and side effects. However, these are not any different than other plastic surgeries, and the results may far outweigh them.
Another con is that breast augmentation is more expensive than non-invasive procedures and is usually not covered by insurance. Following a breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy procedure, health insurance will typically cover the fee of breast implant placement if used for reconstruction purposes.
The Cost of Breast Augmentation
The cost of breast augmentation may be the biggest con. However, consider how much you spend on cosmetic products, exercise classes, support bras, and other products throughout the year. Average breast augmentation costs are approximately $8,000 to $12,000. Some surgery centers can offer financing to lower the procedure to a monthly cost. Although, this number fluctuates based on:
- Surgical fees
- Silicone versus saline implants
- Combined surgeries
One of the most expensive costs is surgical fees and anesthesia, making breast augmentation similar to the costs of other plastic surgeries. Here are some ways you could save some money or afford better financing:
- Use an ambulatory care center rather than a hospital
- Ask about cost estimates
- Inquire about financing plans
Breast Augmentation Surgical Risks
Like any surgery, breast augmentation can come with health risks, although this is significantly reduced by choosing a reputable surgeon. The most common risks are:
- Capsular contraction
Plastic surgeons will discuss these risks with you beforehand and educate you on proper aftercare instructions. A pre-operative visit allows time to discuss all aspects of surgery including risks associated, scar placement, size of implant to be placed, time to review before and after photos and review your aesthetic goals. Choosing a board-certified breast implant specialist will greatly decrease your chance of developing infection, lower your risk of developing capsular contracture and other complications that can arise after undergoing surgery. Following breast implant manufacturer guidelines for monitoring your implants will also prolong the longevity and integrity of your breast implants.
Many people believe getting a breast augmentation adds health risks, such as cancer. Experts found that breast cancer risk does not increase with breast implant surgeries.
If you have concerns over breastfeeding, breast augmentation that uses subglandular techniques, or over the muscle, could result in an inability to breastfeed. For a more natural approach, the most common placement for breast implants is underneath the chest muscle and away from the mammary glands.
Mammograms When You Have Breast Implants
There are several misconceptions regarding the ability to get a mammogram while having breast implants. While it is important to mention if you do have breast implants when scheduling your mammogram, technicians are very familiar with working around them and know exactly how to take extra views to show as much breast tissue as possible. The special views they take in this instance are called “displacement views”. 3D mammograms are also available and recommended for women who have breast implants, dense breast tissue, or a combination of both. This type of exam provides a more detailed set of images to closely examine the breast tissue. It also tends to be a bit more accurate because of the ability to take up-close imagery.
Another misconception is that getting a mammogram will rupture your breast implants. This is an extremely rare occurrence but does serve to be mentioned. When you choose a facility that screens women with breast implants regularly, you lower your risk even further.
Breast Augmentation FAQs
Breast augmentation is a form of self care and has shown proven benefits in improving self-esteem. The idea of surgery may seem daunting to you, which is why we have put together a few of the most popular FAQs. Ultimately, find a surgeon you feel comfortable discussing your worries and expectations regarding surgery.
1. Are Silicone or Saline Implants Better?
Silicone gel implants are precisely as the name sounds – they are silicone cases filled with silicone gel and tend to be firmer than other breast implant types. Silicone implants have become the gold standard for many women since they appear and feel more natural.
Silicone is an excellent option for women who want highly customizable implants that work seamlessly with their bodies while providing a more natural glow and feel. However, silicone has its downsides, such as:
- Requires frequent imaging and screening
- Only available for adults over 22
Yet, you can expect silicone implants to last up to 15 years and in most cases, even longer.
On the other end of the spectrum, saline implants are more affordable, pose fewer adverse health risks if they rupture, and have been widely used since the 1960s. They are not as refined as silicone implants, although it is still dependent on surgical expertise.
You may notice a different feel to saline implants that are unlike natural breast tissue, which can often be seen more easily. However, saline is completely sterile, posing fewer risks if rupturing, and more easily replaceable.
Saline implants are filled after the initial placement under the muscle, often resulting in smaller incision lines and scarring. You also avoid frequent screenings and imaging.
2. Are Saline Implants More Affordable?
Based on a research study conducted in 2019, medical experts found saline breast reconstruction costs $1,288 less than its counterpart. This is because the cost of the actual implant is less overall. The surgery time, surgeon,operating room/anesthesia fee, and other costs surrounding surgery are about the same.
3. What Are Your Breast Size Options?
Breast enhancement is more pronounced with implants compared to lifts and provides the most customization for size, shape, and feel. You will have breast size limitations based on:
- Diameter of breast
- Width of the base of the breasts
- Elasticity in skin tissue
On the other hand, breast lifts use original breast tissue to elevate the nipple and areola and remove excess skin to improve drooping or sagging breasts. If you want individualized options and larger volume and breast size, breast augmentation is an excellent choice.
4. Are There Aftercare Instructions?
For the best outcomes and to avoid complications, talk to your surgeon about breast augmentation aftercare instructions. Restrictions are placed to allow the body time to heal. Generally, after about 6 weeks following surgery, restrictions are fully lifted and you may return to your everyday routine. Patients should be closely monitored during their postoperative recovery period and during this time, your surgeon will let you know what your individual guidelines are.
Here are some general guidelines for what to expect after after surgery:
- Dissolvable suture (stitches)
- Surgical strips covering incisions
- Placement of a supportive surgical compression bra
- Medications to help with pain and nausea
- Limited activity and exercise
In some instances, your surgeon will give you ointment or cream to use over incisions and minimize scarring. You will also have follow-up appointments that will check your progress and healing.
5. What if You Want a Breast Reduction Later On?
A breast reduction typically removes fatty tissue and skin that causes back pain, neck pain, or self-esteem issues. Most breast reductions occur with natural breast tissue. You can opt for implant removal, which will remove the implant and may require a breast lift to help prevent sagging tissue.
6. Is there a more natural alternative to a breast implant?
In some cases, patients may be a candidate for breast augmentation using fat taken from another part of the body. If a reasonable amount of healthy fat is available to transfer, usually from the abdomen/flank area, your surgeon may suggest this approach for you. Because this is a surgical procedure, posed risks may include:
- Fat necrosis
- Risk of infection
- Fat reabsorption
- Less breast projection
Fat necrosis can lead to painful or calcified lumps that can cause redness, pigmentation changes, or uneven breast tissue. This is not typical, but is an inherited risk of surgery. When choosing a board certified plastic surgeon, your risk of infection following surgery is greatly lowered.
With fat transfer procedures, approximately 50% of injected fat gets reabsorbed naturally, making long-term or immediate results difficult to identify prior to surgery. This is taken into account when your surgeon places the healthy fat cells during surgery. Once new blood supply is established after surgery during the postoperative recovery period, these fat cells should not migrate. Just as with fat cells in other parts of the body, the cells can grow or shrink with fluctuations in weight gain and loss. Projection or breast height is not as prominent as with a structurally more sound breast implant.
If fat reabsorption is an ongoing problem, you will need multiple procedures.
7. How Long Does It Take To Recover?
Breast augmentation does not require a long recovery, and pain is often managed through prescription medications or over-the-counter pain reducers. After surgery, most patients can expect to spend 1-3 hours in the surgery center before being released home to begin their recovery. A responsible friend or family member is required to drive you home after having general anesthesia.
During the next week, you will experience expected soreness and stiffness. After the weeklong period, you should be cleared to resume light activities, but avoid vigorous exercise for a period of time until you receive clearance from your surgeon. Patients are typically evaluated in office during the first 5-7 days following surgery, or sooner if indicated.
Finding a Plastic Surgery Clinic
Have you wondered if you are a candidate for breast augmentation? Undergoing surgery can seem scary, but the results are highly effective at improving breast volume, shape, and self-confidence.
The clinic and plastic surgeon you choose make the largest difference in your surgery, aftercare, and long-term results, so finding a surgeon and facility that has vast experience with breast surgeries is important.
At Blackhawk Plastic Surgery and Medspa, we offer breast augmentation, breast lifts, and much more, so contact us today and get started with your complimentary consultation!