Breast Augmentation

augmentationA breast augmentation, or augmentation mammoplasty, is an operation performed to enhance the size of a woman’s breasts through the use of silicone or saline implants. This procedure is frequently used to restore volume changes after pregnancy or weight loss, but it can be performed on any woman whose breasts have fully matured. Breast augmentation with different-sized implants is particularly helpful in correcting breast asymmetry, a condition where dramatic size differences exist between the two breasts. In cases where significant breast sagging also exists, a simultaneous breast lift is usually required; and this combined procedure is termed a mastopexy-augmentation. Breast enhancement surgery is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the country.

Our Doctors always approach breast augmentation surgery with the utmost attention to detail.

Determining Candidacy for Breast Augmentation

To determine if you are a good candidate for breast augmentation surgery, Dr. Brian Braithwaite or Dr. Lorri Cobbins will review your health history and perform an examination during your consultation. You will be given the opportunity to select from various implant sizes to help understand the volume changes and implant dimensions. We will also take preoperative photos during your visit. You may be required to have a mammogram before your surgery, depending on your age and last study. During the consultation, our doctors will take time to understand your goals and desires, and they will review available techniques and incision sites.

Choosing the Right Breast Implants

While Dr. Braithwaite and Dr. Cobbins have extensive experience with all aspects of breast augmentation, their unique expertise concerns selecting the right implant for the right patient. Since today’s implants come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, patients must decide between saline or silicone, smooth or textured, round or anatomic, and a host of varying implant projections. Like Drs. Braithwaite and Cobbins, a thoughtful plastic surgeon works with the patient to select the best implant for years to come. Gone are the days when most patients received the same inappropriate implants, followed by expensive revision work. During your breast augmentation consultation with Dr. Braithwaite or Dr. Cobbins, appropriate measurements, soft tissue characteristics, and chest wall anatomy will dictate the optimal implants for the most durable result. Our doctors always approach breast augmentation surgery with the utmost attention to detail.

Breast Implant Options

Silicone Implants

Silicone breast implants are once again approved by the FDA for use in breast augmentation surgery. For study purposes, silicone implants were pulled from the United States market for more than ten years, but they were always used in Canada and Europe without interruption. Perfectly safe devices, today’s silicone breast implants are far better than their predecessors. Current implants have thicker, more durable outer shells and are more resistant to leakage or rupture. In addition, the silicone inside today’s implant is thicker and more cohesive, making it far less likely to migrate in case of leakage or rupture. Although they do not deflate the way saline implants can, an MRI is sometimes necessary to detect a problem with silicone implants, unless physical exam findings are obvious. However, since no implant lasts forever, patients should understand that their implants will need to be removed or replaced at some point in their lives.

Most patients find that silicone breast implants feel softer and more natural than saline implants, but their appearance can be very similar with either type of implant. Silicone breast implants arrive pre-filled from the manufacturer and their volume cannot be altered by the surgeon. As a result, these implants require a slightly longer incision for placement. Although silicone breast implants cost more than saline implants, many patients find their natural feel advantage to be well worth the added cost. And just like with saline products, silicone implant manufacturers offer both a free limited warranty and a free lifetime replacement warranty in case their products are defective in any way.

Saline Implants

Saline breast implants are very safe devices and are approved by the FDA for use in breast augmentation. Saline implants arrive unfilled from the manufacturer and the doctor fills them with a sterile saltwater solution during the procedure. One advantage to their unfilled state is that Dr. Braithwaite or Dr. Cobbins can position these implants using somewhat smaller incisions than those required for silicone implants. Another advantage is that additional fluid can be added to one or both sides during surgery, a useful tactic for patients with asymmetry of size or projection. Saline implants also cost less than silicone implants.

Although many patients find that saline implants feel more firm and less natural than silicone implants, breast appearance can be very similar with either type of implant. With saline implants, there is no concern about silicone implant rupture in aging implants; instead, old saline implants tend to deflate quickly when they develop even the smallest hole, and the saltwater solution is harmlessly absorbed by the body. Since no implant lasts forever, patients should understand that their implants will need to be removed or replaced at some point in their lives. And just like with silicone products, saline implant manufacturers offer both a free limited warranty and a free lifetime replacement warranty in case their products are defective in any way.

During your consultation with Dr. Braithwaite or Dr. Cobbins, you can select from the full range of implant options, and they will help guide you through your choices.

The Breast Augmentation Procedure

Breast implants may be placed either under the breast tissue or under the pectoralis major muscle, depending on tissue characteristics. Common incision sites usually include the crease below the breast or around the areola, both of which tend to be very inconspicuous. Dr. Braithwaite and Dr. Cobbins will make every effort to minimize scar length. Breast augmentation surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia, so patients are generally able to return home later the same day under the care and supervision of a friend or family member.

Recovery from Breast Augmentation

Following breast augmentation, we instruct all breast enhancement patients to wear surgical or sports bras. Some minor swelling and/or bruising may be apparent in the breasts initially, but these symptoms are temporary and should gradually dissipate over time. Any discomfort or soreness that is experienced can usually be controlled easily with narcotic pain medicine, and patients may drive and return to work once they are no longer taking medication. To allow for proper healing, all strenuous activities—such as heavy lifting, sports, vigorous exercise—will generally need to be avoided for several weeks.

Breast Augmentation FAQs

To assist you in learning more about breast augmentation, Dr. Cobbins and Dr. Braithwaite have provided answers to several frequently asked questions below.

Q: Can breast augmentation restore lost volume?

A: Contrary to what many people assume, breast augmentation can be performed for purposes other than simply increasing the size of one’s breasts. For women who have lost breast volume as a result of pregnancy, weight fluctuations, or the natural process of aging, breast implants can help restore shape and fullness for a rejuvenated appearance. Additionally, breast augmentation can help improve breast symmetry for those who are bothered by size or contour inconsistencies.

Q: Can I still breastfeed with implants?

A: If you are able to breastfeed before undergoing a breast augmentation, you should be able to do so after your procedure, so long as the implants are placed safely and correctly by a board-certified plastic surgeon. The misbelief that implants interfere with one’s ability to breastfeed stems from the fact that some women are incapable of breastfeeding in the first place, which is sometimes wrongly attributed to the presence of implants when a patient has never attempted to breastfeed before her augmentation.

Q: Will breast implants interfere with mammogram results?

A: For women who have breast implants, particular mammogram screening methods can be utilized to help ensure more accurate and conclusive results are obtained. For example, if implants are located below the muscle, mammography technologists can employ an “implant displacement” technique that involves pushing the implant in one direction while pulling the breast tissue in another. In addition to the four traditional images, this allows several special photos to be taken for a more complete view of each breast.

In the event breast implants are placed above the muscle, or if the implant displacement approach does not produce a satisfactory reading, an MRI can usually be an effective solution.

Q: What will my breast augmentation scars look like?

A: To place breast implants, a tiny incision will typically be made either around the areola or in the inframammary crease below the breast. Due to their location, breast augmentation scars tend to be relatively inconspicuous, and the majority of patients can expect them to naturally diminish in visibility over time. Ultimately, the final appearance of any scarring will depend on one’s unique healing process and how closely scar care instructions are followed after surgery.

Q: How much does breast augmentation cost?

A: Each breast augmentation procedure performed at our practice is custom-tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of the patient. As a result, the cost of treatment will vary by individual based on factors such as implant composition (saline or silicone), the particular style and texture of the selected implants, and whether or not the augmentation is combined with a breast lift and/or another procedure to create a Mommy Makeover. All of these components will be discussed in full detail during a consultation with one of our doctors, at which time a personalized price estimate can be provided.

If you have any more questions, or if you would like to schedule a consultation for breast augmentation at our Chicago plastic surgery practice, please contact us via email or call (312) 361-8108 today!


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The Aesthetic Institute of Chicago

Brian M. Braithwaite, M.D.
Lorri Cobbins, M.D.

601 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Phone: (312) 361-8108

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