What is Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation is a plastic surgery procedure where a woman’s breast is enlarged using silicone filled implants or saline filled implants. There are over 300,000 breast augmentations performed every year. Up until a few years ago it was the most popular plastic surgery for women however in recent years liposuction has taken the number one spot.

It’s no surprise the liposuction and breast augmentation are the most popular plastic surgeries as they attempt to recreate that unobtainable perfect body ideal that is so often portrayed in the media. Some women who seek out breast augmentation are falling prey to the Hollywood perfection obsession when they are in fact naturally beautiful and don’t even need the implants.

Other women might never have developed breasts at all, and been self-conscious of being completely flat for years. And yet others are trying to reshape their breasts after childbirth, surgery, sagging from aging, or too much weight gain and loss causing loose skin and deflation of the breast area.

breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty, breast aug, or a “boob job”

breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty

Breast augmentation is typically done using general anesthesia. The implants are usually inserting through a small incision make in the nipple at the point where the aereola meets the skin. Sometimes the implants are inserted through the arm-put, an incision under the breast at the fold, or even through a belly button incision.

For a while the silicon implants were the norm, however after some scares about silicon complications the saline or water filled implants become popular. In recent years, silicon implants have come back into vogue with better implant technology and an improved feeling of the implants. The basic recovery time is only about a week for this surgery however there will be six to eight weeks of no physical exercise and being extremely protective of the breast area which will be tender and delicate.

The problem with breast implants is that there is a rather high rate of complications. Scar tissue that hardens can cause the implants to sit funny or look strange on the breast. The implants can develop leaks or even rupture. While the result of breast augmentation are long lasting they are not forever lasting. A woman getting breast implants can have a high expectation that she will need some sort of revision years down the road. A woman getting implants as a young adult can expect to have several implant surgeries during her lifetime.

A standard breast augmentation involves merely placing breast implants. There are more involved surgeries such as those to give the breast a lift, reduce the breast, reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy, or lift the breast using a special flap surgery that doesn’t require the implants but instead uses the women’s own skin and tissue. These more complicated plastic surgeries are more involved than the standard breast aug, more expensive and require more recovery time.

A basic breast augmentation plastic surgery can cost around $4,500 for the surgeons fees plus another $1500 for anesthesia and the surgical room expenses. You see deals for breast augmentation that run as low as $4500 covering all costs. However, this is usually with a less experienced surgeon or in a less expensive part of the United Stated. A breast augmentation done in a city such as Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York by a prominent plastic surgeon is likely to cost around $8,500 dollars, not 4,500. The prices really vary and they go up in big cities and up even more when using a prominent surgeon.

What is a Breast Lift?

Plastic surgeons will often use the term of breast lift as a catch all phrase that actually includes a vast array of procedures on the breast. Depending on the patient each procedure may address a particular problem with the breasts. The medical term that surgeons used for a breast lift is also called a mastopexy.

A minimal breast lift might involve a small elevation of the breast that is done by surgically cutting a sliver of skin out from under or around the nipple. This leaves invisible scars and can lift the breast somewhat. For women with large areola or nipples, another similar variant of the breast lift eliminates part of the areola giving the breast a small tightening and lift as a consequence. With a breast lift the overall internal volume of the breast remains the same and the procedure is more about tightening and lifting via the skin to create a nicer shape.

If a woman has extensive laxity to her breast that has developed over time either from aging, weight gain, pregnancy or removal of cancerous breast tissue, she might need volume in addition to the skin tightening. In this case these women may choose a procedure that lifts and tightens the breast but also adds an implant to fill the area out with more volume from the inside. Notice that an implant adds more weight to the breast and can actually make the breast sag more. So getting an implant to hide laxity of the skin may not have the intended effect of creating a more perky breast.

The distinction between breast augmentation and breast implants is basic: breast augmentation is a kind of surgery that increases the breasts, whereas breast implants are manufactured artificial components that are surgically implanted to support the enlargement process.

Breast implants verses breast mastopexy

An implant will only create a bigger breast and it will not address or correct droopiness which is why patients seeking a lifted look may opt for mastopexy instead of or in addition to an implant. For minimal sag and a desire for a larger breast, getting an implant can be the simplest and most scar-free option of breast surgery. For breasts that have fallen completely south however, the mastopexy surgery may be better.  A total breast lift is a more involved surgery than simply placing an implant and lifts are therefore more expensive generally than a simple implant. For women who want to eliminate both the sag and increase the volume, the surgeon may choose to combine both surgeries. She would get a breast lift with implants in this situation.

Mastopexy and the trade-off between better shape and a surgical scar

The goal of mastopexy is not just to add volume to a sagging breast. Te goal is to recreate the most attractive breast shape possible by lifting and tightening the skin. Some breast lift surgeries leave minimal scarring around the nipple that you can hardly see. For extremely saggy breasts however, the lift might involve not only a scar around the nipple but a vertical scar going from the nipple vertically down to the bra line. Depending on the situation, a woman with extremely sagging breasts may choose to live with the scar over living with the sagging breast being pancaked against the chest and pointing downward.  They want the perky breasts and will accept the scar.

Considering a breast lift?

A breast lift is a major surgery. With the exception of the tiny crescent lift around the nipple for minimally sagging breasts, there are surgical scars involved. Depending on the volume of the breasts, implants may be indicated.  A  women should evaluate things carefully before considering breast lift surgery.   Take time to interview surgeons thoroughly via consultations, checking they are board certified, and from work of mouth. With implants especially, the complication rate is high. Therefore, you want a reputable surgeon in your area who will be ethical about fixing any potential complication should one occur.

Costs of breast lift surgery

The costs of a breast lift vary widely. A small crescent lift around the nipple might cost $6,000. Breast implant costs vary widely as some smaller areas in the country charge $5,500. Most reputable breast surgeons in major cities like LA, New York or Chicago however now charge between $7,500 and $10,000 for breast implants.  Prices have gone up.  Because of the high rate of complications with implants, it is recommded to use a reputable and established office. You might want to avoid clinics or one-time specials that you hear on the radio or find on google searches. Saving a few thousand dollars may not be worth it because you may have to go back. Another consideration is that breast implants do not last forever. Expect to go back to the surgeon at some point in the future for revisions.

If there is a lift involved, add several thousand dollars to the surgery price. A lift that involves correction of a very droopy breast with removal of excess skin may cost $10,000 to $12,500. Surgerious that attempt to use the natural skin to rebuild the breasts after cancer treatment may cost even more money as they are highly specialized reconstructive surgeries.

Surgery results and satisfaction

Women who undergo breast lift procedures have usually given a great deal of thought to the surgery. Because of this, they are often quite pleased with the results. It is typically something they have wanted to do for a long time and are pleased once they do. Women should be aware that breast surgeries often wind up with complications. Unevenness around the nipples, scar formations that harden and asymmetry of the breasts are just some of the complications, not to mention the general dangers or surgical procedures such as anesthesia.

The biggest thing to understand about breast surgery is that you may be facing a secondary surgery down the road.  That being said, women who have wished for this surgery for years are generally happy in the end that they followed through and had it done.

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