Breast enlargement, or breast augmentation, is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the United Kingdom. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), 8,238 procedures were performed on women in 2017, which is an increase of seven percent compared to the previous year.
There are several factors behind the increasing popularity of breast augmentation. The chief reason though probably lies in how the procedure can improve the quality of life and self-esteem of women. When we look better, we feel better, which will directly improve our personal and social relationships, and general physical and mental health.
The benefits also translate into professional life. Whether we like it or not, biology and natural selection are very real concepts - a larger bust line opens up a wider range of career opportunities. In addition, studies show that more attractive people actually get promoted faster and earn more money in the workplace compared to their less aesthetically-appealing colleagues.
Is it any wonder then that 98% of women who underwent breast augmentation surgery are satisfied with the result of their procedure?
It is also worth mentioning that the lessening taboo of cosmetic surgery, as well as improvements in surgical and implant technologies, has made the procedure more socially acceptable and accessible.
Breast enlargement surgery is essentially a procedure designed to increase the mass of breasts by inserting silicone or saline implants into the body. Occasionally, the procedure is done through the lipofilling technique, which entails the use of fat found from another part of the patient’s body.
The implants are typically placed inside the body via incisions under the inframammary fold or armpit. Depending on the patient’s body shape and physical condition, the incision may also be made in the area surrounding the areola. For most though, the implants will rest directly behind the breast. However, for women with a smaller frame, the implants are usually positioned behind the chest muscles.
Saline-filled breast implants
It may be hard to believe, but once upon a time, implants used for breast enlargement procedures were made from glass balls, rubber and even ivory. Thankfully, those days are long gone, and implants today are primarily made from either:
Silicone gel implants are roundly acknowledged to be of better quality. They feel more natural and are less prone to rippling and deflating. However, saline implants are safer since liquid from leakages can be absorbed by the body naturally.
Implants come in either round or tear drop shapes. The latter offers more customisation options as the width, height, curvature and depth can be adapted to complement the patient’s body.
Implants come in a variety of sizes. Please discuss with your doctor to determine the exact size to be used. Keep in mind that the shape of your body and size of your ribcage will also affect the choice of implants.
The improvements in modern medicine have made breast augmentation a low-risk surgery. However, there are a few things you need to be aware prior to committing to the procedure.
• Capsular Contracture: There is a small possibility that your body may reject the implants. This is, however, very rare. In most cases, the body will simply insulate the implants by generating a protective layer, called capsule, around them. In a few cases, the formation of the capsule can grow abnormally thick leading to a condition called capsular contracture. This condition is easily resolved through corrective surgery. However, delayed treatment may compromise the integrity of the implants, leading to leakages or ruptures.
• Bleeding: Bleeding near the incision lines, and internally around the implants, are quite normal - particularly for patients with high blood pressure. However, if the blood leaks out of the incisions after surgery, the sight may unduly alarm patients. Patients are sometimes fitted with a tube in the ward for a couple of days to help drain the blood (and liquid) out.
• Lifespan: Implants have an expiry date – usually ten years, though sometimes sooner. If you feel discomfort or pain, speak to your doctor – it may be time to replace them.
* Please note that breast enlargement surgery is not available on the NHS. Exceptions may apply in extraordinary cases.