Breast Augmentation (Implants)

Breast augmentation, also known as a “boob job” or breast enlargement, is the surgical insertion of implants to increase breast size. A popular procedure for women who feel that their natural breast size is out of proportion with their body, this is the most frequently performed plastic surgery procedure in the United States. After breast augmentation, patients can expect a larger, fuller chest with more cleavage. Many women report increased self-confidence following this procedure.

Breast Augmentation Candidates

Candidates for breast augmentation are women in good overall health who wish to change the shape and size of their breasts. Ideal patients are no more than 30 pounds overweight. Many women choose to undergo this procedure to counteract the loss of breast volume caused by pregnancy, aging, or significant weight loss. Breast implants are also used during reconstructive breast surgery and as part of male-to-female sex reassignment procedures.

Types of Breast Implants

There are two main choices as far as breast implants: silicone or saline. Silicone implants can require longer incisions than saline implants, and may pose a higher health risk if they leak or rupture. On the other hand, many women find silicone implants to feel more realistic than saline-filled breast implants. There is also the choice between smooth or rough textured implants, and round or teardrop-shaped implants. Your doctor will help you choose the right type, shape, and size of implants to achieve the results you desire.

The Breast Augmentation Procedure

Most breast augmentation procedures require general anesthesia and take about two hours. First, the surgeon creates incisions through which the implants will be placed. These incisions are usually located in the belly button, armpit, or skin fold underneath the breasts, or around the areola, in order to minimize the appearance of scarring. The implants are then placed in the body, either below or above the chest muscle. Once they have been positioned, the incisions are closed with sutures.


Following breast augmentation, most patients take one to two weeks off from work or school, and must avoid strenuous activity for six weeks. During the recovery period, common side effects include swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the chest area. Your surgeon will ask you to wear a compression garment or surgical bra to help the tissues adjust to the new implants.

Risks of breast augmentation include infection, scarring, or a noticeable asymmetry between the breasts. Rarely, a condition known as capsular contracture causes collagen fibers to form tightly around the implant. This complication can be painful and may require the removal of the implants.

Breast augmentation patients should recognize that breast implants are not permanent. Most currently available implants will need to be replaced in one to two decades. There is also the possibility of a leak or rupture, which will require the implant to be replaced.

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