What is a breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty, can be a cosmetic procedure - or a reconstructive procedure, in the case of breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy or trauma.
Breast augmentation can:
- Enlarge small breasts
- Increase fullness and projection of your breasts
- Improve the balance of your figure
- Even up asymmetric breasts
- Reconstruct a breast after mastectomy or injury
- Enhance your self-image and self-confidence
What does breast augmentation surgery involve?
The procedure involves implants - usually silicone - being inserted beneath the breast muscle, or sometimes, above the muscle (see above, right). The objective of this procedure is to increase the size of your breasts, or restore breast volume that has been lost after weight reduction or pregnancy.
Dr Sharp performs this surgery under general anaesthetic, usually as a day procedure. In some cases, an overnight stay is required. Every surgeon differs slightly in their approach to breast augmentation surgery; from the surgical technique and preferred implant type, through to their post operative recommendations. Please click on the topics below for more information about Dr David Sharp’s approach to breast augmentation surgery.
What breast augmentation surgery won’t do
Breast augmentation does not correct severely drooping breasts. If you want your breasts to look fuller and to be lifted due to sagging, a breast lift may be required in conjunction with breast augmentation.
before and after breast augmentation with Dr David Sharp: this patient wished to add natural curves, opting for anatomical cohesive gel placed under the muscle.
before and after breast augmentation with Dr David Sharp: this patient experienced depletion in breast tissue after massive weight loss. She did not want a mastopexy (lift) and opted for breast implants only; round textured cohesive gel placed under the muscle.
before and after breast augmentation with Dr David Sharp: this patient experienced depletion in breast tissue after breastfeeding four children and undergoing massive weight loss following gastric sleeve surgery. She did not want a mastopexy (lift) and opted for breast implants only; anatomical form stable cohesive gel placed under the muscle. This patient also had an abdominoplasty.
Why have a breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation is a very personal procedure and you should do it for yourself, not for someone else.
Common goals of breast augmentation goals are to:
- achieve a softer, fuller and naturally flattering breast contour
- turn around the negative effects of pregnancy, weight loss, or aging on breast shape
- repair the disappointing effects of prior surgeries
- enhance self-esteem and confidence.
Breast augmentation can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr Sharp.
The best candidates for breast augmentation are women who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.
How do I know if breast augmentation is right for me?
Breast augmentation is a highly individualised procedure and may not be suitable for everyone. Breast augmentation results are often portrayed as oversized, sexualised depictions of reality. Most of Dr Sharp’s patients are average-sized women who are simply seeking proportion, natural balance and shape. Dr Sharp focuses strongly on achieving a natural, beautiful look.
Before you decide on breast augmentation with implants, there are some important issues to keep in mind:
- Breast augmentation does not correct droopy breasts. Breast implants may affect your ability to breastfeed
- Breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime and future surgery may be required to replace one or both implants
- Smokers are at increased risk of complications from any surgery. If you are serious about undergoing cosmetic surgery, you should try to quit smoking
- If you are concerned about the way you look or are thinking about cosmetic treatments to boost your confidence, there are alternatives to cosmetic surgery. These may include other treatments, wearing padded bras or accepting yourself the way you are.
- External pressures from the media, partners or friends can influence how men and women view their bodies. Dr Sharp doesn’t support his patients having surgery for the sake of conforming or meeting anyone else’s expectations. If you aren’t doing it for yourself, reconsider having surgery at this point in your life.
Breast augmentation may be a good option for you if:
- You are physically healthy
- You have realistic expectations
- Your breasts are fully developed
- You are bothered by the feeling that your breasts are too small
- You are dissatisfied with your breasts losing shape and volume after pregnancy, weight loss, or with aging
- Your breasts vary in size or shape
- One or both breasts failed to develop normally
- Remember that the shape and size of your breasts before surgery will influence the surgical procedure and the outcome.
Types of breast implants
A silicone envelope filled with varying amounts of sterile salt water (saline). This can affect the shape, firmness and feel of the breast. If the implant shell leaks, a saline implant will collapse and the saline will be absorbed and naturally expelled by the body.
A silicone envelope filled with an elastic gel that feels much like natural breast tissue. If the implant leaks, the gel may remain within the implant shell or it may escape into the scar capsule (area around the implant) or even into the breast tissue. A leaking implant filled with silicone gel may not collapse.
Round breast implants
Round breast implants have a tendency to make breasts appear fuller. Higher profile options can achieve even more projection. Because round implants are the same shape all over, there is less concern about them rotating out of place.
Anatomical breast implants
Anatomical (or tear drop) breast implants main characteristics is a flatter upper breast pole and a fuller lower breast curve. An appearance that usually is associated with a youthful natural-looking female breast appearance
Smooth breast implants
Smooth breast implants are the softest feeling. These implants can move with the breast implant pocket, which may give more natural movement. Smooth implants may have some palpable or visible rippling.
Textured breast implants
Textured breast implants develop scar tissue to stick to the implant, making them less likely to move around inside of the breast and get repositioned. Texturing offers some advantage in diminishing the risk of a tight scar capsule.
Breast augmentation surgery - the procedure
A breast augmentation procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 - Anaesthesia
Breast augmentation is best performed under a general anaesthetic with a specialist anaesthetist, meaning you will be completely asleep and feel nothing during surgery.
Step 2 - The incision
Incisions are made in inconspicuous areas to minimize visible scarring. Incisions vary based on the type of breast implant, degree of enlargement desired, your particular anatomy and patient-surgeon preference. Potential incisions sites include, peri-areolar, transaxillary and inframammary incision.
Dr Sharp routinely uses an inframammary incision as it allows good exposure and maneuverability during the surgery and also leaves a scar hidden in the breast crease
Step 3 - Inserting and placing the breast implant
After the incision is made, a pocket is created for the insertion of the breast implant. The location of the pocket can be either:
- Sub-muscular: Under the pectoral muscle
- Sub-glandular: Directly behind the breast tissue, over the pectoral muscle
- Dual Plane: placement partially beneath the pectoralis muscle and partially beneath the mammary gland
Step 4 - Closing the incisions
Incisions are closed with layered sutures in the breast tissue and with sutures, skin adhesive or surgical tape to the skin. A small thin drainage tube may be left in the breast pocket to assist with drainage of any blood or fluid post-operatively.
Step 5 - See the results
The results of breast augmentation are immediately visible
Breast implant scars
Scars are an inevitable part of surgery, however Dr Sharp places them along natural skin lines and creases to make them as discreet as possible. Dr Sharp and your post operative support nurse will endeavour to minimise scarring and to keep your scars as inconspicuous as possible. Scars heal better when you follow your post operative instructions strictly, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Scars may fade with time and become barely noticeable.
Dr Sharp and his team offer a unique pre and post operative skin optimisation program that supports you in maintaining healthy skin quality throughout, and after, your breast augmentation journey, to help reducing long term scarring.
If you have concerns about scarring, please discuss this with Dr Sharp or your support nurse.
Breast augmentation recovery
Immediately after your surgery, you will be taken into a recovery area to be closely monitored following surgery. Dr Sharp will put your support bra on during the surgery, so this will be in place when you wake up, helping to minimise swelling and support the breasts as they heal.
Depending on your specific case, you may have drains in place after your procedure. These are very small tubes, which drain excess blood into a canister. Most patients have this procedure as a day case, meaning they go home a few hours after surgery. If you have drains in place, your post operative nurse will check on these within 48 hours after your surgery, and remove them when indicated.
After a post-surgical breast augmentation recovery period of 24 to 48 hours and an additional reduced-activity period of a few days, you will likely experience soreness and swelling for a few weeks.
During this time, you will have support of our post operative care nurse, who is available to take your calls 24/7, should you have any concerns.
Dr Sharp and your post operative care nurse will give you specific instructions on ongoing wound care, to achieve optimal healing and results. These instructions may include:
- How to care for your surgical site/s following surgery
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site/s or in your general health
- When to follow-up with Dr Sharp in the rooms
Dr Sharp will answer specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? If so, when will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When will they be removed?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
How to maintain your breast augmentation results
Breast augmentation results are immediately visible. Over time, post-surgical swelling will subside and incision lines will fade. Satisfaction with your new image should continue to grow as you fully recover from surgery.
Breast implant replacement
It’s important to know that breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. Your implants may need to be replaced. You should plan for an annual examination by Dr Sharp to evaluate your breast health and implant integrity.
Over time, your breasts can change due to aging, weight fluctuations, hormonal factors and gravity. If, after a period of years, you become dissatisfied with the appearance of your breasts, you may choose to undergo a breast lift or implant exchange to restore a more youthful contour.
If you have any concerns regarding your breast augmentation results, don’t hesitate to call us on 3202 4744.
Breast augmentation risks and complications
Like any surgery, you must weigh up whether the benefits out way the risks for you. While breast augmentation surgery is very common, it also carries risks. Your pre-operative consultations with Dr Sharp will enable him to discuss potential complications with you, and help you determine whether the surgery is right for you
Possible breast augmentation surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Changes in nipple or breast sensation
- Poor scarring of skin
- Wrong or faulty position of the implant
- Implant leakage or rupture
- The formation of tight scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture)
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Wrinkling of the skin over the implant
- Pain, which may persist
- Possibility of revisional surgery
Complications are rare, and Dr Sharp and his team manage each of these risks with the upmost care to further reduce the likelihood of them occurring. In the event they do occur, most can be treated quickly and easily with prompt intervention.
Everyone’s body responds differently to surgery. In some cases, post-operative revision surgery might be required.
Some factors, such as weight, lifestyle or health problems can increase the chance of a complication occurring. Dr Sharp will take time to learn about your potential risk factors during your pre operative consultations, and will determine if they are relevant to your surgery.
How do I choose my surgeon?
Despite being a very safe and common procedure, breast augmentation changes your body forever.
It is a major procedure – and therefore, choosing the right surgeon is of upmost importance. Breast augmentation surgery should be performed by a qualified plastic surgeon who is registered as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. You can confirm your surgeon’s credentials here
Unfortunately, due to lack of regulations in Australia, many doctors Dr David Sharp is a qualified plastic surgeon with a special interest in reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery. His personalised approach means that you receive plenty of pre operative time with him to discuss your specific body goals and any questions.
It’s normal to feel both nervous, and an excited sense of anticipation when planning your breast augmentation. Dr Sharp takes the time to ensure you have as many consultations as you require, to ensure your treatment is customised to suit your body and expectations – and address any concerns you may have.
Breast augmentation + pregnancy
Breast augmentation can be safely performed before you have children, and is not considered to affect breastfeeding in most cases as Dr Sharp uses an incision and implant placement that does not damage the mammary ducts. However, pregnancy will cause significant changes in your breasts, and if you have had a breast augmentation prior to having children, you may find that your results are different afterwards. For some women, this results in a more softer, natural post-augmentation result. For others, a repeat breast augmentation is required, and the cost of this should be considered before undertaking primary breast augmentation before having children.
If you are planning future pregnancies, speak to Dr Sharp about the pros and cons of proceeding, or delaying, surgery.
Dr Sharp has a special interest in post-pregnancy transformations - also known as ‘mummy makeover’ surgery. Click here to read more about tummy tuck and breast surgery options for restoring pre-pregnancy body shape and condition.
Do breast augmentations remove stretch marks?
A breast augmentation does not correct stretch marks.
Dr Sharp’s clinic offers a range of safe, skin therapies that have been scientifically proven to reduce stretch marks – without surgery, needles or down time. If you are concerned about stretch marks, call 3202 4744.
What kind of anaesthetic will I have?
Breast augmentations are performed under a full general anaesthetic. A specifically selected range of medications are administered during the surgery to ensure your post-operative comfort. Dr Sharp works with an experienced team of anaesthetists in safe, accredited facilities.
Combined breast augmentation + tummy tuck or breast lift
Dr Sharp often performs breast augmentation surgery alongside abdominoplasty and/or liposuction. He also performs breast augmentation and lift surgery. Advantages of combining procedures include the aesthetic benefit of having a ‘total’ result as well as possible cost advantages. These combined procedures are often popular amongst women who have finished having children and wish to lift sagging breasts, replace lost volume, remove excess stomach skin or repair rectus divarication. Click here to find out more.
How much time should I take off work?
Depending on your work, you could need to take up to a month off work, although many people return to work, particularly if it involves sedentary activity, after 1-2 weeks.
You should avoid strenuous activity for up to six weeks after a breast augmentation. After this time, gently and slowly reintroduce heavier lifting and activities, being cautious to avoid pulling/tearing or painful sensations.
How much do breast augmentations cost?
Potential costs include:
- Dr Sharp’s fee
- Costs of implants
- Anaesthetist’s fee
- Assistant’s fee
- Theatre costs
- Support garments
Breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons is not covered by most private health insurers.
However, in some cases - such as post-mastectomy - this procedure is classified as reconstructive, and therefore has a Medicare item number. If so, you will be eligible to claim a rebate from Medicare, as well as your private health fund.
It is important to understand that, in the case of complications or revision surgery, the cost of your breast augmentation might extend to future surgical procedures and hospitalisations. We encourage patients to think about how they would fund further treatment beyond the immediate costs expected.
Breast augmentation; words to know
- Areola: Pigmented skin surrounding the nipple.
- Augmentation mammaplasty: Breast enlargement or breast enhancement by surgery.
- Breast Augmentation: Also known as augmentation mammaplasty; breast enlargement or breast enhancement by surgery.
- Breast Implants: Medical devices placed in your body to enhance an existing breast size or to reconstruct your breast. Breast implants fall into two categories: saline breast implants and silicone breast implants.
- Capsular contracture: A complication of breast implant surgery which occurs when scar tissue that normally forms around the implant tightens and squeezes the implant and becomes firm.
- General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Inframammary incision: An incision made in the fold under the breast.
- Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
- Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
- Mammogram: An x-ray image of the breast.
- Mastectomy: The removal of breast tissue, typically to rid the body of cancer.
- MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; a painless test to view tissue similar to an x-ray.
- Periareolar incision: An incision made at the edge of the areola.
- Saline implants: Breast implants filled with salt water.
- Silicone implants: Breast implants filled with an elastic gel.
- Submammary or subglandular placement: Breast implants placed directly behind the breast tissue, over the pectoral muscle.
- Submuscular or subpectoral placement: Breast implants placed under the pectoral muscle, which is located between the breast tissue and chest wall.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
- Transaxillary incision: An incision made in the underarm area.
- Ultrasound: A diagnostic procedure that projects high frequency sound waves into the body and records the echoes as pictures.