Preparing for Breast Augmentation


Breast Augmentation FAQ

What is a breast augmentation?
What are the different types of breast implants used in a breast augmentation?
What should you expect at your first consultation with your plastic surgeon?
Where can I view before and after photos of breast augmentations?
How much does a breast augmentation cost?
Who is a good candidate for a breast augmentation?
What are the basic procedures and techniques used in breast augmentation?


What is Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation is the process of using plastic surgery to augment (enlarge) and/or reshape a woman's breast by inserting a breast implant. Breast augmentation is also used to correct a difference in size and/or shape between the right and left breast (breast asymmetry). Asymmetry in the size or shape of the breasts may be the result of genetics or may be due to a mastectomy (partial or total removal of breast tissue to treat breast cancer).


Whatever the reason for getting a breast augmentation, the breast implant has the effect of creating a fuller, more shapely, more symmetrical, and more youthful appearance.


Breast augmentation (breast implants) may also be employed to improve mild breast ptosis (the sagging of the breasts). Ptosis is a normal occurrence as the body ages. Ptosis may be increased due to pregnancy, weight loss, breast feeding, and the normal decrease in skin elasticity caused by aging and gravity.


What are the different types of Breast Implants used in Breast Augmentation?

After you and your surgeon determine your ideal breast size and shape, then you’ll need to select an implant material, an implant shape, and an implant size that will best achieve your desired results.


Essentially there are three types of material used in breast implants. Saline, silicone, and fat grafting. Silicone implants were used about 80% of the time in 2015. There are two implant shapes that are commonly used, round and teardrop. There is a wide variety of implant sizes available to suit every patient. Typical implant sizes vary between 250 ml and 500 ml. You and your surgeon will also decide where to place the implant to create the look you prefer. Implants are either placed below the pectoralis muscle (submuscular implant) or between the pectoralis muscle and the breast tissue (subglandular implant).


Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure for women in the United States and has been since 2006. In 2015, over 275,000 breast enlargements were performed. Silicone implants were used in 80% of all breast augmentations in 2015, compared to 50% in 2009.


A breast augmentation is not the same thing as a breast lift or breast reconstruction, however these two procedures may be combined with a breast augmentation (implant) procedure.


What should you expect at your first breast augmentation consultation with your plastic surgeon?

When you meet with your doctor for your initial consultation, you will want to provide a detailed description for your doctor regarding how you would like to improve your appearance. Think about specifics beforehand. Write down some notes and important questions before you go to your first consultation.


An experienced, board certified plastic surgeon can normally use breast implants to make minor or major increases in breast size, shape, and symmetry. Expect to have a frank conversation with your surgeon about what you consider to be your ideal goal.


Where can I view before and after photos of breast augmentations?

To get an idea of results others have acheived, review Breast Augmentation Photos.


How much does a breast augmentation cost?

Each patient presents a unique situation, therefore an in-person consultation is needed to get an accurate estimate. Nevertheless, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the U.S. national average surgeon fee for a breast augmentation for the most recent year (2010) was $3,351*.

*This amount only represents the average for the surgeon's fee. It does not include the charges for the anesthesiologist, for the facility where the surgery is performed, or for other associated costs.


Who is a good candidate for a breast augmentation?

A good candidate for a breast augmentation is a woman who is not satisfied with the size, shape, or feel of her breasts. The candidate may want to increase the size of the breasts, or may want to correct an asymmetry in breast size or shape caused naturally or by an operation (such as a partial or total mastectomy). Or the potential patient may simply want to achieve a more youthful and more shapely look. Finally, a good candidate should be in good overall health for her age, should be emotionally stable, and should have realistic expectations.


What are the basic procedures and techniques used in a breast augmentation procedure?

The doctor may use general anesthesia or local anesthesia with heavy sedation. A breast augmentation procedure is normally performed in a surgical center, a hospital or a doctor's office.

The surgery typically lasts from two to four hours. The patient normally returns home the same day that the procedure is performed.


Occasionally the patient will combine a breast lift with a breast augmentation. The breast lift does not affect the size or shape of the breast, but rather is meant to address breast ptosis (sagging) which often occurs as a woman ages. Breast augmentation (implants) may be employed to improve ptosis, especially minor ptosis.


For information on the history of breast implants as well as research on expansion/augmentation, check out this article on breast augmentation.