Breast augmentation, or augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that aims to increase the size, shape, or fullness of the breast.

The surgeon places silicone, saline, or alternative composite breast implants under the chest muscles or breast tissue. Implants last from 7 to 12 years on average.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) notes that in 2015, there were 279,143 breast augmentations procedures in the United States.

This was 2 percent lower than the previous year but 31 percent higher than in 2000.

Breast augmentation is done to:

  • Enlarge breasts that are naturally small
  • Restore breast size and shape after pregnancy, weight loss or breastfeeding
  • Restore symmetry when the breasts are asymmetrical
  • Restore the breast or breasts after surgery

Plastic surgery includes reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery.

Reconstructive breast surgery may be done as a part of the treatment for breast cancer. Cosmetic breast surgery is done for esthetic purposes. Breast augmentation is normally cosmetic surgery.

In 2007, a study by researchers from the University of Florida found that breast enlargement through cosmetic surgery boosts women’s self-esteem and feelings about their sexuality. The results were reported in Plastic Surgery Nursing.

What are breast implants?

A breast implant is a medical prosthesis that is placed inside the breast to augment, reconstruct, or create the physical form of the breast.

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Breast implants can contain silicon, saline, or another compound.

There are three main types of breast implants:

Saline implants are filled with a sterile saline solution, like salt water. The solution is held within an elastomer silicone shell. These implants can be filled with different amounts of saline solution. This affects the feel, firmness, and shape of the breast.

If a saline implant leaks, the solution will be absorbed and expelled by the body naturally.

Silicone gel-filled implants consist of a rusted Source a silicone outer shell filled with a silicone gel. If a silicone-filled implant leaks, the gel will either stay in the shell or escape into the breast implant pocket. A leaking silicone-filled implant may or may not collapse.

Patients choosing this type of implant should carry out more regular checks with their doctor compared with those on saline solution implants. An MRI or ultrasound scan can check the condition of the implants.

Alternative composite implants may be filled with polypropylene string, soy oil, or some other material.


As the anesthetic wears off, the patient will be given painkillers to relieve the pain.

After general anesthesia, the patient will not be able to drive. They should arrange for a friend to take them home.

Absorbable, or dissolvable, sutures usually disappear within 6 weeks.

If the patient has sutures that do not dissolve, or if drainage tubes are placed near the breasts, a follow-up appointment will be necessary to remove them.

The medical team should provide the following information:

  • How to care for the breasts after the procedure
  • How to use the prescribed medications
  • When to attend a follow-up visit
  • When to call the doctor

The patient should seek medical help immediately if they experience:

  • any sign of infection, such as fever, or warmth and redness in the breast area
  • chest pains, unusual heartbeats, or shortness of breath

The patient should not engage in strenuous physical activities for about 6 weeks.

The doctor may advise about some post-operative exercises, such as flexing and moving the arms, to relieve pain and discomfort, and also what type of bra to wear.