Breast Implants

Breast augmentation, otherwise referred to as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that increases the size, shape and fullness of the breasts through implantation. This is a common and safe surgical procedure that is undergone by women across the world.

Who is a good candidate for this surgery?

In order to undergo a breast augmentation or implantation surgery, you need to be in good health. You should also have a complete understanding of what the procedure entails in order to have realistic expectations of its outcome. In terms of chest size and features, women with small breasts, asymmetrical breasts, drooping or sagging breasts from pregnancy or breastfeeding, and chest size/shape fluctuations due to weight loss are also ideal candidates for this surgery. Finally, women who have undergone a mastectomy to treat breast cancer can also benefit from a breast augmentation procedure. No matter what your reason for wanting this surgery, your life will change afterwards for the better with a resurgence of self-esteem.

However, if you suffer from heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, angina or an autoimmune disease, you may not be able to undergo a breast enhancement procedure. You must also be a non-smoker. If you do smoke, your doctor will ask that you quit at least two weeks before your surgery and remain smoke free while you heal.

Your surgeon will review your medical history in detail to establish your candidacy.

What does recovery from breast augmentation or implantation entail?

Your doctor will prescribe pain killers and, in some cases, antibiotics. Do not take anything that was not prescribed by or cleared by your doctor. In the days that follow your procedure, you may have trouble lifting your arms and find activities like hair washing taxing. Do not overexert yourself and instead spend the days following your surgery relaxing to give your body a chance to heal. Most people are able to return to work after 4-5 days post-surgery and can resume non-impact lower body exercises after about two weeks. High-impact, full-body exercises can be resumed after approximately six weeks.

Everyone heals at their own pace, but you should expect some swelling and soreness in the weeks following your surgery. This is completely normal and will subside over time. Once the swelling subsides, the tissue in the breast area will stretch to accommodate the implant and your breasts will appear natural.

What to look for in a surgeon

Although breast implantation/augmentation surgeries are routine procedures that are done daily, it’s important that you connect with your surgeon. You need to feel comfortable with them and know that you can trust them to answer your call in the middle of the night if necessary. Moreover, any surgeon who performs breast implantation of augmentation surgery must be board-certified and have specific experience in this type of surgery. The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (CSAPS) is the only recognized body of professional surgeons in Canada. If your surgeon of choice is not recognized by CSAPS, do not let them perform your breast augmentation surgery.

Here are three questions to ask your surgeon to get a sense of their training and education in the realm of breast implantation:

1. Where and how long did you train for this procedure?

2. How many procedures of this nature have you performed?

3. How long have you been a practicing surgeon?

Although your specific question can be answered by a board certified surgeon, you can find answers to common questions regarding breast implantation/augmentation surgery below.

What are breast implants made of?

The shape and size of the implants will vary, but they can be made of only two Health Canada-approved materials, saline or silicone gel.

Saline implants: These contain an elastomer silicone shell that is filled with a sterile saline or saltwater solution and can be inserted empty and filled once they are in place. Saline can be absorbed into the body without issue should the implants rupture. These implants are usually inserted via incisions made in the armpit or around the nipple.

Silicone gel implants: These consist of a silicone outer shell that is filled with silicone gel. They must be inserted full and put in place through incisions made at the crease of the breast. Should this type of implant rupture, the gel will leak into the body and must be removed.

As with both type of implants, leaking and rupturing is rare and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

Implants can be placed in two ways. There is sub-glandular placement (behind the breast tissue, under the pectoral muscle) which creates a more rounded look, and sub-muscular placement which is less round but more natural. The thickness of your tissue will determine where the implant is placed. Generally, the sub-muscular placement is done because the area under the pectoral muscle is more forgiving and does not interfere with mammograms and the screening technology used to test for breast cancer.

Breast implants are intended to last a lifetime. Some people do report that the implants seem to deflate or lose their shape after 10 years. This can be corrected through implant replacement surgery during which the old implant is removed and a new one is put in its place.

A breast implantation procedure requires the implant to be placed inside the chest. In order to accomplish this, the surgeon must make an incision. There are three possible incision sites and each tends to fade over time making them almost invisible. The incisions are hidden under clothing and only visible if you are wearing certain types of swimwear.

Periareolar: This incision is made along the lower border of the areola (nipple). Periareolar incisions blend in with the darker skin that makes up the areola.

Inframammary fold: This incision is made under breast just above the crease where the breast connects to the chest wall. Inframammary fold incisions are the most common.

Transaxillary: This incision is made under the arm and done with an endoscope.Transaxillary incisions are only done when the implant itself is small enough to be inserted through the arm area and into the breast.