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How do breast implants work?

25th September 2017

One of the most popular types of elective surgery, breast augmentation involves inserting implants into a woman’s breasts to increase their size, shape or volume.

What does the breast augmentation procedure involve?

Prior to your surgery, you will discuss which type of implant is right for you, based on your build, body type, lifestyle and desired outcome post-surgery.

The procedure itself involves:

  • Making an incision alongside or below the breast

  • Inserting the implant, either behind your chest muscle or between your breast tissue and chest muscle

  • Repeating the process on the other breast, ensuring both sides are symmetrical

  • Stitching the incisions closed, then covering with a dressing

How long does a breast augmentation take?

The procedure itself typically takes between 30 and 40 minutes, under general anaesthesia. The surgery is considered as a day case, but you may wish to stay in the clinic overnight.

 What does the aftercare involve?

You leave hospital wearing surgical dressings and a supportive surgical bra, which encourages healing and reduces swelling.

You will need to avoid using your arms and chest as much as possible following the procedure to allow your body to heal, so ask a friend or family member to help you around the house.

Lying and sleeping in a semi-upright position  may help to reduce postoperative swelling.

You would need someone to drive you home and stay with you for the following 24 hours after the procedure.

How long does it take to recover from a breast augmentation?

Once you’re at home, you will need to rest for several days, in order to recuperate fully. You will need to wear a sports bra for at least a month while your breasts heal.

Avoid sleeping face down for at least a month post-surgery.

You will need to take at least a week off work, often longer. You should avoid driving for at least a week.

You should avoid exercise, strenuous activity and heavy lifting for a month post-surgery.

You must keep the incisions dry for a week after the procedure and out of direct sunlight for a year.

It may take up to 9 months so see the full results of the procedure.  

How long do breast implants last?

No implants last forever. You are advised to have your breast implants replaced approximately every 10 - 15 years, but this will depend on your individual circumstances. Always speak to your surgeon, who can advise you on the best course of action.

Are there any side effects?

A breast augmentation is a major surgical procedure and, as such, there are always potential side effects.

After your surgery, it is normal to experience:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Bruising

  • A tight feeling in your chest

  • Temporary numbness

 Long term side effects do not always occur, but may include:

  • Visible scarring

  • Breast tissue feeling hard to the touch

  • Ruptured implants

  • Creases, folds or rippling

  • Reduced sensitivity, whether temporary or permanent

  • Inability or difficulty to breastfeed

What should I do if I have any problems after my breast augmentation?

If you have any concerns, or you experience severe pain or other unexpected symptoms or side effects following your surgery, please get in touch with us straight away.


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