Breast Implants / Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure to increase the size and shape of a woman's breast. The most common candidates for this procedure are woman who have always had small breasts, or women whose breasts have become smaller after pregnancy.
In a breast augmentation, technically known as augmentation mammaplasty, breast implants are placed beneath the breasts. The breast implant can be placed either behind or in front of the muscle which is beneath the breast. This muscle is called the pectoralis major.
Dr. Newkirk normally prefers to place the breast implant behind the muscle. In that position, the implant is hidden by an extra layer of tissue so it is less obvious. Also, there seems to be a lower incidence of scar formation around the breast implants when they are placed there, which makes for a more natural feeling breast. Breast implants placed beneath the pectoralis major have a tendency to ride high on the women's chest for about six weeks, after which they descend to the area behind the nipple, which makes for a natural appearing breast. The operation is carried out at Columbia Plastic Surgery as an outpatient; patients go home after this operation.
Breast augmentation is a reasonably straightforward operation, but with all operations there are risks. One risk is scar formation around the breast implant, which is called a capsule. If the breast becomes objectionably hard, it and the scar may have to be removed. Other problems associated with breast augmentation include infection, which occurs in about 1% of patients, and bleeding around the breast implants, which also occurs in about 1% of patients.
Breast implants that surgeons use today are envelopes of silicone-containing rubber which are filled with saline or salt water. Occasionally breast implants leak. If that occurs, the salt water is absorbed by the patient's body, and the breast implant should be replaced. On the whole, results of breast augmentation are highly gratifying. More than 310,000 breast augmentations were performed in the United States in 2013, which made breast augmentation one of the top five most popular cosmetic surgical procedures.