Whether you’ve been thinking about getting breast implants for years or a month, making the final decision to schedule your breast augmentation surgery is a very personal choice—as well as the first step in a journey that can be both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking.
We’ve developed this comprehensive guide to help you navigate that journey, from gathering information all the way through recovery and waiting for your implants to “drop-and-fluff” (more on that later).
Is Breast Augmentation Right for You?
The first stage of the breast augmentation journey is when you first start thinking about whether getting breast implants is something that fits your personality and lifestyle. Let’s make something clear from the outset: Enhancing the size and shape of your breasts should be a decision you make without pressure from someone else, whether that’s a partner or because friends or family have done it.
Women consider breast augmentation for a range of reasons. Some feel their breasts have always been too small and want implants to create a more feminine figure. Others have noticeably asymmetrical breasts. Women who have had children might lose volume after pregnancy and want to restore their pre-pregnancy bodies.
Researching the Procedure
Learning the basics about breast augmentation from reputable online sources may be your first step. As you read about the procedure, it’s a good idea to start jotting down questions you want to ask plastic surgeons during your consultations. While it’s important to get a sense of what occurs during the surgery, a good plastic surgeon will explain what to expect during the consultation.
At this point, you might also begin gathering “wish pictures” of celebrities or models whose breasts represent how you’d like your breasts to look after surgery. These can be helpful for surgeons, but it’s also important to keep an open mind and have realistic expectations about your results.
You should also make sure you understand the potential risks and possible complications associated with breast augmentation. Even though the vast majority of women are happy with their results—96% of patients on the RealSelf website say breast augmentation is “worth it”—it’s important to be fully informed.
What Is the Cost of Breast Augmentation?
The cost of breast augmentation is something patients should consider before making a final decision about having the surgery. Many women who have been thinking about getting breast implants set up a savings account to help pay for the procedure. Patients can also finance the cost through companies that specialize in financing for cosmetic procedures. The cost of breast augmentation depends on several factors, including the experience and qualifications of the surgeon, the type of implants used, and the geographic location of the practice. Even though cost is almost always a concern, it shouldn’t be the primary consideration when choosing a plastic surgeon.
Choosing a Surgeon
The success of breast augmentation surgery largely depends on the expertise of the surgeon. Therefore, it is important to find a qualified and experienced surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Why ABPS? Because earning certification through ABPS requires years of training and experience specific to plastic surgery that “cosmetic” surgeons may not have.
Some of the best ways to narrow your search include:
- Word-of-mouth referrals from friends or family who have undergone breast augmentation surgery
- Referrals from your primary care physician or other medical professionals in the area
- Reviews posted by previous patients on reputable third-party websites, such as Google or RealSelf
- Before-and-after photos showcasing results the surgeon considers their best work
The consultation is an extremely important part of the decision-making process. It’s important that you feel comfortable and are able to have an open and honest conversation with the plastic surgeon you ultimately choose. It’s also important to feel welcomed by the surgeon’s support staff.
Choosing Breast Implants
One of the most common questions asked in online forums by women considering breast augmentation is how to choose the size of breast implants. Many patients say they want to increase a certain number of bra sizes, such as going from a B to D. Most of the patients we see at Southeastern Plastic Surgery, P.A., say they want their breasts to look natural and fit their lifestyle. To accomplish this, a surgeon measures your chest wall and existing breast tissue to recommend an implant size that will meet your cosmetic goals.
Another choice is the material that fills the implants. Implants can be filled with saline—a watery substance that is added after the implant is placed—or silicone gel. Both have unique benefits, but most patients believe silicone gel implants create a more natural look and feel. The final decision about the size and type of implants is ultimately yours to make with the surgeon’s input.
What Happens During Breast Augmentation Surgery?
The actual breast augmentation surgery usually takes 1 to 2 hours. You’ll be under general anesthesia. Your surgeon creates a customized surgical plan based on the conversation you had during the consultation. In most cases, making an incision at the base of the breast (inframammary incision) and inserting the implant behind the chest muscle produces the most natural-looking result.
Other incision location options include along the lower edge of the areola and in the armpit area. An armpit incision is only possible if you choose saline implants. After the surgeon closes the incisions, you’re taken to our comfortable recovery room. You can have someone drive you home a few hours after the procedure with detailed instructions for at-home care.
What To Expect During Recovery
The initial recovery after breast augmentation surgery takes about a week. You can expect to experience swelling, bruising, and some discomfort during the first few days after the procedure, although each patient’s experience is different. Prescription pain medication can minimize your discomfort, if necessary. We encourage patients to move around starting on the day of the procedure to help blood circulation, which promotes healing.
After returning to work or school, you will still need to avoid overexertion for at least 4 weeks. Workouts focused on the upper body can be resumed when cleared by your surgeon. Wearing a supportive bra during the recovery is also necessary to minimize swelling and ensure your implants remain in place.
When Do You See the Results?
Waiting to see how your new breasts will look requires some patience. During the initial couple of months after the procedure, you’ll notice that the breasts sit high on the chest. It can take 3 to 6 months for the implants to settle into place, a process often called “drop-and-fluff.” As tight muscles relax and acclimate to your new implants, you can expect your implants to settle to a lower, more natural-looking position on your chest, as well as fill out the lower area of your breasts. This “drop and fluff” process results in a smoother, softer, and more rounded final appearance.
How Long Do Breast Implants Last?
Many years ago, the accepted rule of thumb about implant longevity was that patients needed to replace them every 10 years. That’s not necessarily true. If you’re happy with how your breasts look and don’t experience any complications, breast implants can last 15 to 20 years or more. It’s important to get an imaging test every few years if you have silicone implants to detect any “silent ruptures.” Silicone implants hold their shape even if they crack, unlike saline implants which quickly deflate if they leak.
Start Your Journey With a Consultation
If you’ve already made the decision to get implants and are looking for a board-certified plastic surgeon in the Tallahassee, Florida area, request a consultation to meet with one of our breast augmentation specialists. Or call us at (850) 219-2000 to schedule an appointment.