This Article Has Been Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D.

Home Breast Augmentation Everything You Need to Know About Breast Augmentation Surgery

March 13, 2022

Have you been considering breast augmentation to improve your breast’s appearance, fullness, and shape?

If you’ve ever wondered what the entire breast augmentation process involves, then look no further.

We’ve created this comprehensive guide to tell you everything you need to know about breast augmentation surgery.

From the initial consultation to post-op recovery, to frequently asked questions, we’ll answer your every question so you can feel confident before breast augmentation surgery.

Reasons to Undergo Breast Augmentation Surgery

There are numerous reasons why a woman chooses to get breast augmentation to improve the shape and appearance of her breasts.

For many women, the choice to get breast implants is for cosmetic enhancement. Other women choose breast augmentation to correct size differences between their breasts to improve symmetry, particularly when one breast is significantly larger than the other.

Women who have received mastectomies after breast cancer may choose breast reconstruction surgery to regain their female figure. 

Fluctuations in weight caused by pregnancies, hormonal changes, and breastfeeding can similarly cause stretching of the breasts. This is why the “Mommy Makeover” is becoming increasingly popular with women who receive breast implants after pregnancy.

It’s for these reasons that over 287,085 women receive breast augmentation every year, making it the number one most popular cosmetic surgery procedure.

What to Expect During the First Consultation Appointment

No surgery can be performed without an initial consultation between you and your plastic surgeon. 

During your hour-long consultation, you’ll discuss with Dr. Emmett your motivations for getting breast implants, your specific needs, questions, and expectations. 

You’ll discuss in more detail specifically what parts of your body you’d like to improve, whether it’s reducing nipple size or improving breast volume, for example.

During your consultation, Dr. Emmett will have you “try on” different implant sizes. Be sure to bring a change of clothing such as favorite outfits, bras, blouses, or tops that you can wear to try out different implant sizes.

Dr. Emmett will also measure your breasts and take secure photos of your chest to be used for your medical records.

Now is the perfect time to prepare questions to ask the doctor before your procedure. You’ll also need to discuss your health history and future plans with Dr. Emmett. In particular, she wants to make sure you are healthy enough to receive breast augmentation surgery.

After examination, Dr. Emmett will discuss her recommended method of operation and help decide which implant types are best for you. 

She will also look through before and after photos with you to show you real results of her previous patients. Don’t worry, we have asked patients for their permission before showing these photos and would never show your photos to others without permission!

Once it’s determined that you’re healthy enough for surgery and feel confident moving forward, the procedure will be scheduled.

What are the Different Implant Options?

We offer two varieties of popular breast implant choices — silicone and saline.

Both options provide safe, realistic feeling and looking options for women hoping to improve volume and shape.

Saline Implants

Saline breast implants are empty silicone shells that are inserted into the breasts and then inflated with a solution of safe, sterile saline water solution. Because of this, saline implants leave less scarring, as the incisions can be smaller.

Saline implants are also recommended for women ages 18-22, as the FDA doesn’t approve silicone for women under the age of 22.

Saline can produce natural, realistic-looking breasts, although anecdotally people often say silicone implants are the most realistic.

In the event of an implant leakage or rupture, the saline solution will safely get absorbed into the surrounding breast tissue.

Another benefit of is that if the implant ruptures, patients will know immediately because the breast becomes deflated. This way the patient knows to contact their surgeon and replace their implant immediately. 

Silicone Implants

Of the two choices, silicone is more commonly used, because it’s said to have a more realistic look and feel of the two options.

Silicone is slightly more expensive than saline. Unlike saline, silicone implants must be inserted whole into the body, and require larger incisions, causing more scarring than saline.

Additionally, the FDA set guidelines stating that women should be at least 22 years old before getting these implants.

Today’s implants are known as “gummy bear” implants, because their gel is semi-firm like a gummy bear candy, and is self-cohesive. This means in the case of a rupture, the silicone will stick to itself and won’t leak into the surrounding breast tissue, making them safer than previous silicone models.

Unlike saline implant ruptures, which are quickly noticeable because of a deflated breast, silicone implant ruptures are more difficult to spot. If you notice severe pain or changes in one of your breasts, let Dr. Emmett know immediately so she can replace your implant.

How Long Do Breast Implants Last?

Today’s breast implants are built with stronger, safer materials to last longer than ever before. Still, the FDA does not consider breast implants to be “lifetime devices.

On average, it’s said that breast implants last around 10 years or more.

Breast implants themselves don’t have an expiration date or “shelf date.” Generally, the main concern with aging implants is their ability to rupture over time. But as we stated, today’s implants use safer materials to minimize adverse effects caused by ruptures. 

Most women who undergo breast augmentation surgery will require at least one revision surgery in their lifetime, depending on their age. 

How Do I Pick My Breast Implant Size?

During your consultation, Dr. Emmett will give you an adjustable customizable sizing bra that you can wear to try out different implant sizes.

This bra will give you a real-time physical situation of what you would look like with different breast sizes.

Dr. Emmett will then discuss with you realistic expectations and results based on your body type.

It’s important that every patient understands that certain breast enhancement goals may not be possible, because every body type is different. 

Can I Increase My Breast Size Without Implants?

It is possible to enhance breast size without implants by using “fat grafting.” However, at Emmett Plastic Surgery, we do not perform fat transfer breast enhancement.

Fat transfer augmentation uses liposuction to pull fat from other parts of your body, such as your thighs, buttocks, or sides to be injected into your breasts.

Once the fat has been pulled from your body, it is purified and then injected to fill out your breast.

However, fat cells contain stem cells, which can signal growth to surrounding cells. This may increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. For these reasons, until there is a good long-term study of women with fat transfer breast augmentation, this procedure should not be performed outside of a government-approved study.

How Do I Prepare for Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Patients are advised not to eat or drink anything 6-8 hours before surgery. 

Avoid aspirin or other anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs, as these can increase bleeding during surgery. 

Dr. Emmett may also advise you to stop taking other medications, depending on whether or not they can cause complications during surgery. This is why you must discuss your health history and medications during your initial consultation to reduce potential risks and complications.

Prior to surgery, Dr. Emmett will also ask that you shower the morning of your surgery and use antibacterial soap to minimize bacterial infections that may occur during surgery.

Plan on bringing a friend or partner along with you to your surgery so you will have a ride home.

How is Breast Augmentation Surgery Performed?

Breast surgery is performed in a sterile operating room and usually lasts around an hour. 

Patients are placed in a pain-free, relaxed unconscious state using a combination of twilight IV sedation and a local lidocaine anesthetic injected at the surgical site. This is referred to as an “awake breast augmentation” procedure. Don’t be alarmed, patients aren’t actually “awake,” this is a misnomer. Patients are completely unconscious and totally unaware during surgery.

Depending on which implant type you have selected, silicone gel or saline filled, will affect the location and size of the incisions during surgery.

For saline filled implants, an incision is made near the crease of the breast, where an empty silicone shell can be inserted and then filled with a saline solution.

For silicone breast implants, a larger incision is made where the full silicone shell will be fully inserted.

Depending on your operative plan, implants can either be inserted above or beneath the breast.

Once the implants have been inserted into the breasts, Dr. Emmett will suture the incisions shut and apply a medical-grade tape to aid the healing process.

Breast augmentation leaves the areolas intact and doesn’t involve incisions around them. This differs from breast lifts and breast reductions, which can remove, reshape, and reattach the nipple, changing the appearance, and placement of the nipple on the breast.

After surgery, patients will wait in a recovery room for a short period, before being released.

What Type of Anesthesia Will I Receive?

At Emmett Plastic Surgery, all of our breast enhancement surgeries use twilight sedation as opposed to general anesthesia.

Even though general anesthesia is the most popular choice for plastic surgeons performing augmentation, we find it has too many undesirable side effects for our patients.

In particular, general anesthesia causes these issues:

  • The patient cannot breathe on their own because of heavy sedation and requires a breathing tube
  • There is the risk of overdose, or possible heart attack, especially in older adults with undiagnosed heart disease
  • Vomiting after surgery is common, caused by air bubbles in the breathing tube and nausea from the strong painkillers in the anesthesia
  • A lasting hangover feeling that lasts days after surgery
  • Patients feel pain from incisions immediately after the anesthesia wears off

Instead, we use a combination of twilight IV sedation with a lidocaine anesthetic to perform surgery.

The main reasons we prefer twilight sedation over general anesthesia include:

  • The patient can breathe on their own. No breathing tubes are necessary
  • There is a dramatically decreased chance of overdose or heart attack
  • Twilight sedation doesn’t cause vomiting or intense nausea
  • Twilight sedation wears off within an hour, not days
  • The lidocaine injection numbs the surgical incisions so that when patients regain their senses, they don’t feel pain from the surgery
  • The patient is still in a pain-free, unconscious state

What Does an Awake Breast Augmentation Feel Like?

Some patients may just wish to receive general anesthesia so they’re completely unconscious and unaware during their surgery. However, during an “awake” breast augmentation, patients are still totally unconscious and unaware! Only a patients’ brainstem is awake enough to allow them to breathe on their own. This is why awake breast augmentation is preferred — breathing tubes aren’t required and it’s safer for the patient!

Trust us when we say that twilight sedation is much better for you and won’t cause you any physical or mental trauma. Twilight sedation calms patients’ nerves and relieves their anxieties.

In addition to the calming effects of sedation, lidocaine injections are used to numb your breasts where the incisions will be made. If you’ve had a dental filling, then you’re familiar with lidocaine injections and their numbing abilities.

Once your procedure is over, you’ll have no recollection at all of your surgery, because twilight sedation causes temporary amnesia in patients. And your breasts will still be numb temporarily, so you won’t feel pain once you “wake up” out of your twilight.

How Long Is the Recovery Process?

It will take you around 6-8 weeks for your breasts’ incisions to fully heal and recover after surgery.

During this time, Dr. Emmett will give you instructions to follow to ensure your recovery process is successful.

After eight weeks, your breasts will be fully healed. However, it will take a few more additional months for the implants to expand to give you your final breast enhancement results.

How Long Does It Take to Achieve The Final Results of Breast Augmentation?

Even though it takes around 6-8 weeks for the implants to fully heal, you’ll still need to wait a few months more to see the full effect of the augmentation.

This is referred to as the “drop and fluff” phenomenon.

It takes around 6-8 weeks for the implants to “drop” and settle into place, and another couple of months for the implants to “fluff” to expand the surrounding tissue to create more fullness.

What Can I Do To Ensure a Healthy Recovery Following Surgery?

Your recovery period will last around 6-8 weeks. Your first two weeks of recovery are said to be the most important.

It’s important that you don’t shower for a few days following surgery. This is so your sutures and surgical tape don’t get wet and possibly open.

During your recovery period, you should avoid all exercise that can cause your breasts to shift. Light exercise, such as walking, is permitted. But absolutely no weight lifting or lifting heavy objects over your head during this time!

Your incisions will be too tender and can’t risk unnecessary stretching while they’re healing.

5 Ways to Reduce Bruising and Swelling After Breast Augmentation Surgery

Immediately following surgery, the skin and incisions around your breasts will be inflamed and sore. Your skill will likely become swollen and bruised, as these are the body’s natural healing responses.

During your first week, you will continue to feel soreness and tenderness caused by your incisions. You’ll be given a painkiller prescription from Dr. Emmett to ease your discomfort.

#1. Wear a Post-Op Surgical Bra During Recovery

After your surgery, you will be advised to wear a post-op surgical bra. 

Surgical bras closely resemble sports bras over the traditional bra, as they aren’t underwired.

They offer compression support to help reduce chest, breast, and underarm swelling and inflammation. This reduces the chance of infection after surgery and helps the implants settle into place safely.

Also, you can use an ice pack to apply to your sore breast tissue to further reduce swelling. Just remember not to place the ice pack directly on your skin.

#2. Don’t Lift Anything Over Your Head for Two Weeks

Avoid any movements that place unnecessary strain on this area. Allow your incisions to heal before placing stress or excessive stretching or lifting.

Breast augmentations are usually either subglandular, under the breast tissue, or submuscular, under the breast muscle. Recovery time will take a bit longer if your implant was placed under your muscle.

Washing and drying your hair, putting on shirts, or reaching for things will also require some assistance from a friend or a partner. It’s important not to strain yourself during this time. 

#3. Drink Lots of Water

Staying hydrated is important for healthy skin, especially after surgery.

Remember, your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it requires a good amount of water to keep its elasticity and to heal itself.

Six to eight glasses of water are recommended daily as a general rule. And consider taking a multivitamin or collagen supplement to help your skin’s elasticity improve more quickly.

#4. Take It Easy for at Least Two Weeks

You should take it as easy as possible during your first two weeks. Absolutely no strenuous exercise or weight lifting. However, you are encouraged to take light walks, as exercise improves circulation, which has a healing effect.

After the first two weeks, you can start to increase your exercise to more moderate walking or light stationary cycling, but no jogging. You don’t want to do any sort of exercise that can cause your implants to shift before they’re fully healed.

#5. Sleep in an upright position

For the first week, and possibly up to two weeks, you should sleep in an upright position. Sleeping upright will use gravity to pull the excess fluids away from your breast area to reduce swelling. 

If you’re not used to side sleeping, it might take some getting used to, but it’s crucial for reducing fluid accumulation and placing unnecessary strain on your breasts. And definitely avoid sleeping on your stomach.

Find yourself a wedge pillow that can comfortably lift your upper body away from your bed. Wedge pillows also allow you to get out of bed easier, which will reduce pain and stress on your healing tissue. 

Top Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Before Breast Augmentation Surgery

Below are the most frequently asked questions we receive during consultations.

What are the Risks?

Like all surgeries, breast augmentation comes with potential risks and complications, such as:

  • Breast pain and a loss of nipple sensation
  • Capsular contracture, or breast hardening
  • Rupture and deflation
  • Difficulty breastfeeding

Are Breast Implants Safe?

Silicone and saline implants are both FDA-approved and considered safe for breast augmentation procedures.

Can I Still Breastfeed?

Most women with breast implants have no problems breastfeeding. However, let Dr. Emmett know if you plan on becoming pregnant after surgery.

Can I Still Get Mammograms?

Yes, although they may obscure a mammogram image. However, radiologists can use a different implant displacement (ID) view to see around implants.

Are You Board Certified?

Dr. Jennifer Emmett M.D. is a double-board certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery.

Am I a Healthy Candidate for Surgery?

If you have cancer, a current infection, are pregnant, or have heart disease you will be disqualified from receiving breast augmentation. Additionally, you must be at least 18 years old.

Will I Require Revision Surgery Later?

Most likely yes, as breast implants typically last 10 years. However, as long as your implants feel and look fine, they can last much longer.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation with Dr. Emmett

Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D., is a highly skilled and experienced plastic surgeon. Her practice, Emmet Plastic Surgery, serves the greater Denver and Centennial Colorado area.

Read our previous patients’ reviews and testimonials to understand why our practice has a 4.9 Google rating. 

If you’ve been considering breast augmentation or breast enhancement, contact us to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Emmett.