Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the nation—according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it ranked #1 in 2013 with more than 290,000 procedure performed. It’s also one of the procedures Dr. Brothers performs most frequently at Plastic Surgery Centre of Atlanta.
Our breast patients have asked us many great questions over the years, and we want to share a few that pop up frequently during consultations with Dr. Brothers. If you’re considering a breast augmentation, take a few minutes to read through them all. Chances are, you’ll learn the answer to something you’ve been wondering about.
QUESTION #1: HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A BREAST LIFT TOO?
This is an extremely common concern we hear when consulting with our breast augmentation patients. Very few women have a goal of simply having larger breasts; they want their breasts to look better overall. Depending on the individual, this could mean improving symmetry, adding fullness to the upper pole, or lifting the breasts into a more youthful position. The good news is that a qualified, experienced plastic surgeon can often achieve any of these with a breast augmentation alone.
Mild cases of sagging can often be corrected by placing the breast implant using a dual plane technique, which positions the implant partially below the pectoral muscle while also releasing some of the overlying breast tissue from the muscle. This allows the implant to assume a slightly higher position on the chest while also keeping the nipple/areola complex in a more natural, forward position.
In cases where there is more significant sagging, a breast lift is needed to achieve the most aesthetically pleasing results. While there will be additional incisions, a breast lift can help return the breasts to a more youthful shape. The scars fade over time and are completely covered by typical bikini tops.
Tip for checking if you need a breast lift:
Look at your breasts in the mirror from the side. If the level of your nipple is lower than the crease underneath the breast, a breast lift will be needed to achieve the most natural results with implants.
The only way to determine with certainty whether or not a breast lift is needed is to consult with an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon, who can evaluate your unique anatomy and help you understand what options you have to achieve your goals.
QUESTION #2: WHEN CAN I GO BRA SHOPPING AFTER HAVING BREAST AUGMENTATION?
There are two things we really need to address to answer this question. The first pertains to when it is safe to wear the bra of your choice without compromising your healing process or your results. If your incisions were placed in the crease beneath your breast (inframammary incisions), you will have to wear a supportive wire-free bra for about 4 weeks or so after surgery, as underwire could irritate the healing incisions. Other types of bras, such as bandeaus or halter-style bikini tops may not provide adequate support during the healing process. It’s always best to get your plastic surgeon’s okay before switching out of a sports bra or other recommended post-surgical bra.
The second factor you need to consider before bra shopping is how long it takes for breast implants to settle and for residual swelling to subside, or until your final results are more or less in place. The last thing you want to do is spend money on new bras that will no longer fit correctly after just a few weeks.
If your breast implants are placed submuscularly, which is the more common placement option, they will initially be in a higher position on the chest. This will impact the way bras fit. Most post-operative swelling will dissipate in the first couple of weeks after surgery, but slight residual swelling may be present for a few months. On average, we recommend patients wait at least 6 weeks before making significant investments in new bras after breast augmentation.
QUESTION #3: WILL MY BREAST IMPLANTS STILL LOOK NATURAL IF I LOSE WEIGHT?
This is a question we hear a lot from breast augmentation patients during their follow-up visits—it’s actually quite common for patients to feel a renewed sense of motivation to get in shape and be in optimal health after cosmetic surgery as a result of their enhanced self-image.
The short answer to this question is that it depends on the patient and her individual weight loss goals. The risk of losing a larger amount of weight after breast augmentation is that the natural breast will lose volume, which could cause the implants to settle a little lower and the breasts to sag. However, if you have a goal of losing 10 to 20 pounds, there is very little chance that your breasts will lose any volume.
I’m happy to say that for most of our breast augmentation patients, trimming down in the months or years following their procedures does not negatively affect the appearance of the breasts. For one thing, the typical breast augmentation patient does not have much fat in her breasts in the first place—proportionately small breasts usually do not. If anything, losing a few extra pounds may enhance the results, helping the breasts look fuller against the new, leaner proportions.
However, every individual is different; if you have gained or lost weight in the past and noticed significant changes in your breasts, then the same is likely to happen again, regardless of whether or not you have breast implants. If you’re concerned about the impact of weight loss on your breast augmentation results, be sure to bring it up in consultation with your plastic surgeon.
We hope this Q & A has been helpful to you. If you’re among the many women in the Atlanta area considering breast augmentation and you have questions of your own, we invite you to contact us for a personal consultation with Dr. Brothers. We’ll be glad to help any way we can.