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Dr. Jennifer Emmett, M.D.

Home Breast Augmentation What is the Difference Between Breast Implants and Breast Augmentation?

June 30, 2021

Terms such as breast augmentation and breast implants are commonly used synonymously, however, they actually refer to a medical procedure (breast augmentation) and medical prostheses (breast implants).

For example, breast augmentation refers to breast enhancement surgery that’s meant to improve the breast’s fullness, shape, and contours.

Breast implants refer to the medical prostheses that are inserted into the breasts during breast augmentation surgery.

While breast augmentation surgery is possible without breast implants, such as fat transfers, where fat is taken from the body and injected into the breasts, the vast majority of breast augmentation surgeries use breast implants to fill out the breasts.

Wondering which is right for you? Let’s go over the difference between breast implants and breast augmentation for those considering a procedure.

Breast Augmentation Surgery and How It’s Done

Breast augmentation surgery, or augmentation mammoplasty, is the name given to breast enhancement surgery that typically uses breast implants to enlarge the breast.

Breast augmentation surgery typically takes about an hour to perform. During this time, the patient will be under general anesthesia, in a pain-free unconscious state.

Generally, incisions can be made in a few different areas, depending on the preferred operative plan determined by Dr. Emmett during the initial consultation.

There are a few different places where incisions can occur:

  • In the armpit

Using this technique will reduce any scarring around your breast area, and will require an endoscope, a medical device with a camera at the end, which can be inserted through the armpit to help navigate the implant towards the breasts.

  • Around the nipple

An incision is made around the edge of the areola, and the implant is placed through this opening.

  • In the inframammary fold, the crease underneath the breast

This is the most commonly used technique for breast implant insertion. The breast implants are inserted through the underside of the breast, where the breast meets the rib cage.

The patient’s choice of breast implant type, silicone or saline, will determine the types of incisions required.

For example, saline implants require smaller incisions because the implants can be inserted while they are mostly empty, and then can be filled with a saline solution once they’re inside the body.

Silicone implants, such as the “gummy bear” type implants, require larger incisions as they cannot be adjusted the way saline implants can.

After the implants have been inserted, Dr. Emmett will carefully close and suture the incision.

Common Considerations for Breast Augmentation and Breast Implants

There are numerous reasons a woman chooses to get breast augmentation surgery and breast implants.

Breast augmentation surgery is an excellent way to improve breast symmetry, particularly when one breast is considerably larger or hangs lower than the other.

Women who have undergone mastectomies also choose to receive breast augmentation surgery to reconstruct their breasts to regain their sense of femininity.

Many women also wish to improve their body’s proportion, feeling their breasts are too small for their body and are looking for a confidence boost.

We also encounter many women who have recently ended breastfeeding and wish to improve the appearance of their breasts after undergoing the changes associated with pregnancy.

No matter what your reasons are for getting breast enhancement, Dr. Emmett will walk you through the process during your initial breast augmentation consultation to help you understand what your options are, and what risks may be associated with your augmentation procedure.

Post Surgery Healing Process

The healing process after breast augmentation surgery takes anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover.

Women who have undergone the procedure will tell you that the first five days are the most challenging, as these days you will have considerable bruising and swelling following the procedure.

For this reason, Dr. Emmett will prescribe pain medication to help you ease through this transitionary period as the skin around your breasts and chest area begin to heal.

During this time, it’s advised that you wear a post-op surgery bra, which is a bra that somewhat resembles a training bra, that’s meant to put constant compression on your breasts to reduce swelling and to stabilize your breast implants while they’re healing.

We recommend that you take the first week off from work if you are able to, and to spend as much time as possible resting and focusing on recovery. 

The first two weeks are the most important towards a healthy recovery, and you’ll want to take it especially easy during this time.

After around eight weeks, your body should be fully healed and you can resume your daily activities and exercise programs.

It’s important to note that while recovery takes around eight weeks, it will still take a couple of months for your breast implants to settle into place and fill out your breasts. So don’t be discouraged if after eight weeks your breast implants haven’t fully filled out yet. 

You can expect your full breast augmentation surgery results to materialize around three months after surgery.

What Not to Do After Breast Augmentation Surgery

As we mentioned before, the first couple of weeks after your surgery are the most important to allow your skin and breasts to heal.

Under no circumstances should you be doing any sort of rigorous exercise that can cause your implants to shift inside your breasts. Only light exercise, such as walking, is okay.

We also recommend that you don’t shower for the first couple of days after surgery. This is to keep your bandages dry and to prevent you from raising your arms above your head to wash your hair. 

Because stretching your arms above your head can place unnecessary strain on your incisions, we recommend you have a companion help you lift things or help you change out of clothes.

To reduce swelling and bruising, we recommend purchasing a wedge pillow to prop your upper body up while sleeping. This will stop excess fluid from accumulating in your chest area, and can also help your implants settle into position. It’s absolutely necessary that you sleep on your back during recovery, and don’t sleep on your side or stomach.

Schedule Your Breast Augmentation Consultation Today

Dr. Jennifer Emmett is a Double-Board certified plastic surgeon serving the greater Denver area.

Dr. Emmett and her staff are skilled at performing breast augmentation, breast lifts, body sculpting, fat injections, Botox, and more.

If you’ve been considering breast augmentation and breast implants, then schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Emmett or call (303) 955-7545 to see what kind of results are possible with breast augmentation surgery.