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Breast Augmentation Recovery – Breast Implants Dallas – Board Certified Plastic Surgeon – Sam Jejurikar, MD – Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute

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Breast augmentation is an intensely gratifying procedure for patients, as they see immediate results after the procedure.  Like any surgical procedure, though, patients need to allow some time for recovery.

Recovery is variable from patient to patient. Most patients feel tired and sore after breast augmentation surgery, but this usually passes in a day or two. Many patients return to work within the week.  After a week, most patients have mild fatigue and soreness, but no other significant symptoms.

Surgeons vary in the amount of time they restrict their patients from exercising postoperatively.  I ask my patients to refrain from all vigorous exercise for 2 weeks postoperatively and from all upper body exercises for 4 weeks.  Patients don’t always want to comply with this, as they feel relatively normal well before their postoperative restrictions are lifted.

Scars from breast augmentation incisions will begin to fade in a few weeks and will continue to fade for months or years.

Many of my patients ask how I choose the optimal size for a breast implant. Some women are very concerned about choosing too large of an implant, as they know this can make their breasts look unnatural. Other women are afraid that they won’t choose a large enough implant to see a discernible difference. There are a variety of tools that I use to help my patients select the best breast implant size:

  • Photos. Having patients bring photos of breasts they like and breasts they detest help me determine their goals. Some women desire subtle enhancement and others desire much more dramatic enlargement.
  • Measurements. The chest wall diameter, breast width and height are all important factors in selecting an appropriate implant. The breast skin envelope is only so large; selecting an implant that is too large invariably means that implant will sit too high, too low, or too lateral.
  • Trial sizing. Although it is inexact, having patients try different implants in a bra in the office is a useful exercise. It gives them a crude idea of breast size and shape in clothing and often helps them verbalize their goals.
  • Conversation. Different implants have vastly different shapes and profiles. It’s important that patients understand how this differs in appearance from other types of implants, and that can only conveyed adequately in the preoperative consultation.
  • Intraoperative sizing. I will often utilize intraoperative trial implants and always sit the patient up during surgery to ensure that the breasts have a pleasing appearance.  This is particularly the case for patients with breast asymmetry, to ensure that the final implants utilized provide the greatest possible symmetry.
All of these tools play a valuable role in choosing the best possible implant size.

Breast augmentation can give women with small or uneven breasts a fuller, better-proportioned look through the placement of saline breast implants or silicone breast implants, dramatically improving self-esteem and confidence. Any operation, though, including breast augmentation, poses some risks that can lead to complications or unfavorable results.

The most common complication is capsular contracture, or hard, firm scar that forms around the implant. Because the breast normally is soft, the development of scar tissue can make the breast feel and look hard, and in severe cases, can cause pain. With older silicone breast implants, capsular contracture was much more common. The frequency of capsular contracture has diminished with currently utilized silicone breast implants, so that the occurrence rate is now similar between silicone and saline breast implants. Mild capsular contracture is hardly perceptible, but severe contractures can be painful and unattractive. Treatment consists of surgery to remove the entire capsule and placement of a new breast implant. Placement of the implant in a pocket below the chest wall muscle results in a lower risk of capsular contracture than placement over the muscle.

Infection, if it occurs, usually does so within a few weeks of surgery. Infection occurs very rarely, but if an infection occurs it often requires antibiotics and the removal of the involved implant for several months.

Some women report that their nipples become oversensitive, undersensitive, or even completely numb. Some women also report small patches of numbness near their incisions. These symptoms usually disappear within time, but may be permanent in up to 15% of patients. If the possibility of having numb nipples is unacceptable to a patient, she should not have breast augmentation, as no plastic surgeon can predict which patients will develop this complication.

There is no evidence to indicate that breast implants will affect fertility, pregnancy, or the ability to breastfeed. If, however, a patient has nursed a baby within a year before breast augmentation, she may produce milk for a few days after surgery. This may cause some discomfort, which usually resolves within a few days. For women who get pregnant after having breast implants placed, in most cases, breast implants will not affect the fate of the breasts. After the breast tissue shrinks after pregnancy and breastfeeding, the breast skin may or may not shrink. If the skin does not shrink, the breasts will likely droop. Whether or not the skin shrinks is controlled by factors other than the presence or absence of breast implants.

Breast implants may break or leak. Most often, breast implant rupture is the result of normal wear and tear on the breast implant shell. If a saline-filled implant breaks, the implant will deflate within a few days and the salt water will be harmlessly absorbed by the body. To restore volume, another implant needs to be placed. If a break occurs in a silicone breast implant, silicone gel may move into surrounding tissue, provoking an inflammatory reaction which can lead to a severe capsular contracture. There may be a change in the shape of the breast, and the breast may become hard and painful. This will require a second operation to remove the breast implant shell and to replace the leaking implant.

No data exists suggesting that breast implants cause breast cancer. Silicone and saline breast implants, however, can alter surveillance for breast cancer. Breast implants can alter the amount of breast tissue visualized on a mammogram. When placed below the chest wall muscle, greater than 90% of breast tissue can be seen well on mammogram. When placed above the muscle, only about 75% can be visualized. Breast implants do not interfere with the ability to detect masses with self breast examination, regardless of position relative to the chest wall muscle. Self exam is the most successful way to discover new breast masses. Implants also do not interfere with ultrasound or MRI scans, which are helpful in the evaluation of breast masses.

Breast implants can move out of position anytime after breast augmentation surgery. If they move a lot, surgery may be needed them back into position. The larger the implant, the more likely it will displace downward.

Rippling or wrinkling of the implant is much more common with saline breast implants compared to silicone breast implants and in thin patients. The visualized wrinkles are the folds of the breast implant shell. Ripples can be particularly disconcerting if they occur on the upper pole of the breasts.

Because breast implants are manmade, mechanical devices, they are prone to problems over time. All women who undergo breast augmentation surgery should assume that, at some point in their lives, they will require a secondary procedure, whether it’s for capsular contracture, rupture, displacement, etc. Some women may never have problems, but it’s impossible to predict which patients will fall into this category.

Many patients want to know, “What’s better – silicone or saline?”  The answer is that it depends.  Both silicone and saline implants have pros and cons.  It’s important that the educated patient understands these differences before making an informed decision.  Before delving into these differences, though, it’s important to state unequivocally that currently utilized silicone breast implants are safe.  Over the past 15 years, many large and rigorous studies have been performed investigating whether silicone breast implants are associated with autoimmune diseases or any types of cancer.  All studies performed reached the same conclusion; there is no conclusive data supporting any link between silicone implants and these diseases.  Only after carefully considering these scientific studies did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve the use of silicone breast implants in all women for breast reconstruction and in women over the age of 22 years for cosmetic breast augmentation.

Some good things about silicone breast implants; breast implants filled with silicone gel look and feel more like natural breast tissue.  Also, particularly in thin patients, silicone breast implants tend to have fewer problems with visible rippling than saline breast implants.

Some bad things about silicone breast implants; breast implants filled with silicone are more expensive.  Silicone breast implants are approximately twice the cost of saline breast implants, which is factored into the price of surgery.  Also, a breast implant rupture is easy to detect when the implant is filled with saline; the breast tends to deflate rapidly, in the span of a few days.  A silicone breast implant ruptures is much more subtle to detect.  For that reason, the Food and Drug Administration recommends an MRI to monitor for rupture, the first one 3 years after surgery, and then every 2 years thereafter.  This test is expensive and most likely will not be covered by third-party insurers.  Lastly, capsular contracture rates, or pathologic scarring around the implant, traditionally were much higher with the older generation of silicone breast implants.  This does not seem to be the case with the newer generation of silicone breast implants used, which is largely attributable to a thicker implant shell and thicker, more viscous silicone gel within the implant.

So, what’s better?  To repeat, silicone breast implants look and feel much more natural, but it comes at a higher financial cost, the recommendation for MRI monitoring to detect for rupture, and a larger incision.  Despite this, with each passing year, more and more patients are opting for silicone breast implants.

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9101 N. Central Expwy.
Suite 600, Dallas, TX 75231
Tel: 214.827.2814
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