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Some women are blessed with naturally full, sensual and perky breasts. Others, however, may not be satisfied with their breast size or symmetry, and begin looking into the benefits of breast augmentation surgery. Breast enhancement continues to be among the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States, with 300,378 procedures performed in 2017. That’s a 41 percent increase from 2000, so you know you’re in good company when you are thinking about getting breast enlargement surgery.

If you’ve been researching breast enlargement, you may be feeling confused or overwhelmed by the sheer number of different options out there – from implant material to size and more. Here’s a breakdown of the most significant information you need to know, so you can head into your surgery forearmed with the knowledge you need.

  • Surgeon
    It’s no exaggeration to say choosing a competent, experienced and board-certified cosmetic surgeon is the most essential decision to make in your journey toward better breasts. You will need to do your homework to find the doctor who is the best partner for you. You should be prepared to have in-person consultations with multiple different doctors to select someone whose personality, aesthetic vision and skill level are a good fit. Your goal should be to find someone who not only has many years of experience in breast enlargement surgery, but also has been able to provide consistently excellent surgical outcomes.
  • Size
    Once you’ve chosen the right surgeon, your work is far from over – you still have several other decisions to make. Breast implant size is one of the major factors that contribute to the successful outcome of a breast augmentation procedure.

    The first thing to know about breast implant size is that it’s not measured in terms of bra cups, but in cubic centimeters. When thinking about size, two major factors come into play: your body type and how natural you want your results to look. In the early days of breast augmentation surgery, many women intentionally chose larger implants; however, most plastic surgeons today will caution you against going too big.

    A knowledgeable cosmetic surgeon should be able to educate you on how each breast implant size will alter your physique, including how much your skin will need to stretch to accommodate them. During your consultation, ask to view various before-and-after photos of previous augmentation patients with a similar body frame as yours.

  • Implant Material
    Another essential decision regarding implants is the choice of material. Saline implants feature a sterile saltwater solution much like the natural fluid that comprises much of your body. Your surgeon will fill your saline implants after placing them into your chest, which is convenient because it allows more precision and control. Additionally, the incision for saline implants is slightly smaller than the one required to place silicone implants.

    Silicone implants are made with a viscous gel that is designed to closely mimic human fat. As a result, many women say silicone looks and feels more like natural breast tissue. Unlike saline implants, silicone breast implants are fully filled before placement. Silicone implants also tend to be somewhat more expensive than saline.

    When you are weighing the pros and cons of various implant materials, you may be wondering if there is a difference regarding durability or safety. While both saline and silicone have received FDA approval, many women choose to get saline implants because if they do leak, your body will harmlessly absorb the saltwater filling. If silicone implants rupture, it is often difficult to detect, so the FDA recommends regular breast exams, MRIs or mammograms.

    A third type of implant, called a structured breast implant, was designed by a cosmetic surgeon to combine a natural feel with the safety of only saline inside. This material has some of the lowest reported rupture rates of all breast implants, making it an outstanding choice for women who are worried about silicone gel leakage.

  • Surgical Incision and Implant Placement
    You and your surgeon also need to decide among three spots for the placement of your incision: under your arms, around your areolas or underneath your breasts. All three of these locations are designed to keep incisions as inconspicuous as possible, so the decision about where to place the incisions for your procedure will depend on both your personal preference and your anatomy.

    You will also need to choose whether you want the doctor to place your implants over or under your chest muscles. Sub-muscular placement means your implants are partially beneath your pectoral muscles, while in sub-glandular placement, your implants will be between your chest muscles and your breast tissue. A qualified surgeon can help you decide which is best, depending on the type of implant material you choose and the results you hope to achieve.

  • Smooth vs. Textured
    Breast implants come in two different textures: textured or smooth. The textured surface is rough like fine sandpaper, which provides greater traction. Meanwhile, the smooth surface is a consistently slippery cover on all sides, which allows them to move inside the breast pocket without friction.

    Smooth implants tend to be longer-lasting and less expensive. However, textured implants generally feel firmer. Also, the slight roughness causes the surface of the implants to adhere to the surrounding tissue around it, which keeps them in their initial positions. Textured implants were originally designed to minimize capsular contracture, which is a complication of breast enhancement that causes hard and sometimes painful scar tissue to form around the implant. Evidence of this benefit remains medically unproven, though.

  • Implant Shape
    There are two different breast implant shapes: round or teardrop. Your surgeon can help you choose between these based on which shape fits your body best, as well as which type will provide you with the most natural-looking results.

    Because round implants have a consistent shape throughout, you won’t have to worry about them rotating out of place and becoming asymmetrical in the future. However, teardrop-shaped implants are more anatomically correct because they are more in line with the natural shape of your breasts – they are fuller in the lower half, and have less volume in the upper. Teardrop implants are often an excellent choice for women who have less existing natural breast tissue. Teardrop implants also tend to feel slightly firmer, so if you want your results to feel soft, you may want to opt for round implants instead.

The Top 5 Benefits of Breast Augmentation Surgery

You may be considering breast implants if you want to improve in any of these areas.

  • 1) Added Volume and Curves
    Some women are born with breasts that are naturally small and flat. Because breast implants especially add volume to the top of the breasts, a breast augmentation is a perfect way to add volume and curves to your silhouette, making you feel more voluptuous and feminine. Whether your goal is to go up to a certain cup size, fill out a bikini top or display cleavage that looks impressive in low-cut tops, a breast augmentation can give you that new look you desire.
  • 2) Even out Naturally Asymmetrical Breasts
    All women have some degree of breast asymmetry. But for some women, the differences in their breast sizes are so noticeable that it makes shopping for bras and bathing suits difficult, and the differences can be embarrassingly noticeable in clothing. A breast augmentation is a great way to balance out naturally uneven breasts. Because you can choose a different breast implant size, shape and profile per breast, a breast augmentation can allow you to finally have evenly matched breasts that fit well into your clothes.
  • 3) Restore Breasts After Pregnancy and Aging
    We all know pregnancy can take a toll on a woman’s body, especially her breasts. Mothers often end up with breasts that are sagging and have decreased volume, particularly if they breastfed their babies. And even women who do not have children notice similar changes in their breasts as gravity takes over as they age. A breast augmentation is a fantastic way to restore lost volume to breasts and make them appear more youthful and perkier.
  • 4) High Satisfaction Rate
    Whatever your reasons are for wanting to get this surgery, you will be excited to learn breast improvement has one of the highest satisfaction rates among cosmetic procedures – an incredible 98 percent, according to survey results published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  • 5) Increase Self-Confidence
    For women who are unhappy with the natural appearance of their breasts, their current look can make them feel inferior and lack confidence. A breast augmentation can boost self-esteem, making women feel sexier and more feminine.

Breast Augmentation FAQs

Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked patient questions about breast enhancement surgery.

  • Q: What is the best age to get breast augmentation surgery?
    A: The FDA does not recommend breast augmentation for women under the age of 18. The main reason is that it is essential for a woman’s breasts to have developed fully before undergoing this procedure. The FDA has approved silicone gel-filled breast implants for breast augmentation in women age 22 or older, and for breast reconstruction after surgery or injury in women of any age. However, a study published in the official journal of the American Society for Plastic Surgery found the average age for breast augmentation surgery was 34.
  • Q: Are the results of a breast augmentation permanent?
    A: If you are considering breast augmentation, you should be aware the implants are not designed to be permanent. In fact, you should go into the surgery knowing it’s probable you will need breast augmentation revision in the future, either for medical or cosmetic reasons. The longer you have your implants, the greater the likelihood that you’ll need to have them removed or replaced.
  • Q: How much does a breast augmentation cost?
    A: According to data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, breast implants cost, on average, $3,787. However, this price can vary widely, based on factors such as where you live, surgeon’s fees, anesthesia fees, prescription medications, operating room costs and other surgery-related expenses. When you meet with potential cosmetic surgeons, be sure to ask if they can provide a breakdown of all these expenses.
  • Q: Will my health insurance cover any of the costs of my breast augmentation?
    A: You may believe breast augmentation is essential for your mental and physical well-being; however, your insurance company may not necessarily agree. Because most insurance companies consider cosmetic surgery to be elective, or not medically required, most women can expect to pay for it out of pocket. One exception might be to cover breast implants in cases that involve breast reconstruction. However, ask your surgeon about financing options that will allow you to pay for your breast augmentation over time.
  • Q: How long is the recovery time?
    A: Your breasts may be swollen, bruised and sore for several weeks following surgery. You can help by massaging your breasts, starting five days after your surgery. You should be able to return to work within one week, and expect to resume vigorous exercise four to six weeks after your procedure.
  • Q: Will I have any scars?
    A: The incisions of a breast augmentation usually heal extremely well. As mentioned above, your surgeon will make the incisions in inconspicuous areas, so they should be relatively unnoticeable once they heal fully.

Outstanding Breast Augmentation Results in Richmond, VA
To determine whether breast enhancement surgery is right for you, you’ll need to schedule a consultation with a skilled cosmetic surgeon such as Dr. Gregory Lynam. Having been named one of Richmond’s “Top Docs” in plastic surgery, he has built a reputation for providing his patients with natural-looking results, and is one of the most sought-after surgeons in the Richmond area. Make your appointment today by calling (804) 560-5260 or reaching out online.

Dr. Gregory T. Lynam

Dr. Gregory T. Lynam is Richmond's only board-certified plastic and maxillofacial surgeon. He has helped numerous people within the community tumor surgeries, breast reconstructions, and facial trauma surgeries.

Dr. Lynam was voted one of Richmond's "Top Docs" in plastic surgery and one of Richmond's "Best Plastic Surgeons to take you back 20 years" by Richmond Magazine in 2010. Additionally, he is known as an expert plastic surgeon on RealSelf and was honored as one of the Top 100 Doctors on RealSelf in 2013.

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