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Breast Augmentation

What Is Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation is surgery to enlarge and uplift the breasts. It involves placing a synthetic implant filled with silicone gel or saline beneath the breast's tissue or muscle.

Surgeons place the implant into the breast using a small cut either:

  • Around the nipple-areola.
  • In the armpit.
  • Under the breast.

If you're having a breast lift at the same time, your surgeon may need to make a longer incision.


Make an Appointment at the UPMC Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center

To schedule a consult:


Is Breast Augmentation Right for Me?

Breast implants might be right for you if:

  • You want to change the shape or size of your breasts.
  • You want to fix problems with your breasts caused by cancer or other conditions.
  • Your breasts sag due to pregnancy, massive weight loss, or genes.

Most women we see are between the ages of 18 and 60 who want their breasts to have a fuller appearance.

In certain rare cases, we can operate on younger women to treat breast asymmetry or developmental defects.

For silicone gel implants, women must be over the age of 22.

Types of Breast Augmentation Surgeries

In most cases, breast augmentation is an aesthetic enhancement or cosmetic procedure.

There are many ways to perform breast augmentation surgery.

Each technique can vary by the site of incision, or where the surgeon inserts the breast implant.

Types of breast augmentation techniques include:

  • Periareolar: The surgeon makes an incision around the areola. One advantage to this technique is minimal scarring.
  • Inframammary: The surgeon makes an incision right below the breast. Even though this technique causes a larger scar than the periareolar type, it shouldn't be noticeable since it's under the breast.
  • Transaxillary: The surgeon makes an incision in the armpit. This takes away the chance of scarring around the breast. But this type of breast augmentation increases the chance of breast asymmetry.

Before Your Breast Implant Surgery

Your plastic surgeon will do a thorough exam of your breasts and take a detailed history.

This includes asking you about:

  • Any personal or family breast problems.
  • Prior pregnancy.
  • Weight loss or gain.

Your plastic surgeon will do a complete assessment of your breast health, including the most recent mammogram for women over 35.

To help get ready for your breast augmentation, your care team will talk to you about:

  • Medications to avoid and when to take your prescribed meds.
  • Proper washing techniques.
  • Any eating or drinking restrictions the night before surgery
  • Quitting smoking.

Breast Augmentation Risks

Breast augmentation is a major surgery, so you should think carefully about your expectations. Be sure to share your goals with your plastic surgeon.

In addition to the risks linked to anesthesia, complications can include:

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Post-op breast asymmetry.
  • Scarring issues.

Problems with the implant can include:

  • Adverse reactions.
  • Failure of the implant.
  • Infection.

Overall, breast implants are safe and do not pose a health risk. But they don't last forever. You'll most likely need further surgery on your breasts in the future.

Not every person is a candidate for this procedure. Your risks may be greater or different than those of other patients.

Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to surgery.

Your Breast Augmentation Consult

Prior to your consultation, you think carefully about your goals because surgeons often combine augmentation techniques.

You and your surgeon will discuss the breast augmentation procedure.

During your consult, you and your plastic surgeon will discuss:

  • Your concerns about your current breast shape and your goals.
  • The location of the implant (either above or below the chest muscle).
  • The implant size and type (silicone gel or saline).
  • The risks of surgery and any potential post-op short-term or long-term problems.

Questions to ask your plastic surgeon

Other common questions from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons include:

  • Am I a good fit for breast implants?
  • What are the risks and complications breast augmentation surgery?
  • Where and how will you perform my surgery?

Where Do I Go to Have My Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Surgeons perform most breast augmentations in a hospital as outpatient surgery.

Be sure to ask someone to drive you to and from the hospital.

What to Expect During Breast Implant Surgery

Your surgeon will outline on your skin where they plan to make the incisions with a medical skin marker.

Your surgeon will also assess your overall health and any issues that could cause complications, such as:

  • Bleeding or blood clotting disorders.
  • Blood pressure.
  • History of adverse scars from prior surgeries.

Type of anesthesia for breast augmentation surgery

Surgeons use either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with IV sedation.

Your doctor will use the type that's safest for you.

Recovery After Breast Augmentation Surgery

Right after surgery, most people have pain for 24 to 72 hours.

Some swelling in the breast tissue is common but tends to resolve within a month of surgery.

Most people can go out in public within two to four days post-op.

You'll need to perform an external breast massage to move the implant in its pocket and keep it in its softest state.

For four weeks after surgery, avoid vigorous physical activity such as:

  • Running and aerobics.
  • Jumping and bouncing.
  • Heavy lifting.

What Results Can Expect After My Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation often produces a rejuvenated, more youthful, and fuller breast appearance.

It does not prevent aging effects of the breasts, so we suggest you have routine follow-ups with your plastic surgeon.

View our before and after photo gallery.

Cost of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Health insurance rarely covers the cost of elective surgery.

Call 1-877-639-9688 to discuss payment options with UPMC experts.