Breast Augmentation

increase the volume, shape, and symmetry of the breasts

Pending Medical Review

Updated 8 December 2021

Breast augmentation is a surgical process for breast enlargement. Also known as augmentation mammoplasty or boob job, the surgery aims to increase the breast’s size, shape, and fullness. The process involves placing specialized devices called breast implants under the patient’s chest muscle or breast tissue. When done for cosmetic purposes, it’s a way for women to feel more confident about themselves, or it may be done to restore the breast’s physical appearance. In year 2015, 279,143 breast augmentation surgeries were reported in United States (1).This article covers in detail the process, why it is done, and the risks associated with breast augmentation

When is a Breast Augmentation Necessary?

Breast augmentation is best considered for the followings

  • To enlarge naturally small breasts, or if one is smaller than the other and it impacts the way your dress up or the type of bra needed to help with the asymmetry.
  • To improve one’s self-confidence and personal image
  • To adjust the breast size and shape after pregnancy, weight loss, or breastfeeding.
  • To get the breasts back to their normal size and shape after a surgery

What Are the Different Types of Breast Implants?

A breast implant is a medical device placed inside the breast to enlarge or restore the physical form of the breast. Implants used for breast augmentation are of two types, i.e. made up either of saline or silicone gel.

Silicone Implants

Silicone implants are made up of biocompatible silicone shells. The shells are filled with silicone gel. Most women feel more comfortable with silicone implants as they are less likely to wrinkle and give a more natural feel. Due to this, they are getting more popular in the UK. However, silicone implants may pose the risk of the gel’s leakage into the breast and causing lumps.

Saline Implants

Saline implants consist of an elastomer silicone shell. As the name indicates, a sterile saline solution like salt water is contained in the shells. Saline implants offer a variety of firmness, feel, shape and size depending upon the amount of saline solution in them.

 During the surgery, the surgeon may use pre-filled implants or they may fill it with the solution later, after the insertion (2). If the solution gets leaked from the shell, it is absorbed and drummed out by the body naturally. Saline breast implants have the drawback of bursting or getting folded over time.

Discuss in detail with your surgeon about the pros and cons of both types, size, shape, which will be most suitable for you, and where they will be placed

How Much Does Breast Augmentation Cost?

The price of breast augmentation varies widely between geographic locations, clinics, and individual procedures. Below is a list of prices you can expect to pay in various countries.

Breast Augmentation Cost Table
Country Price
United States $6,700
Mexico $3,500

What is the Procedure to Get Breast Augmentation?

The process starts with anesthesia. Most often general anesthesia is given where you remain asleep during the process. However, sometimes, local anesthesia may be given. Your plastic surgeon will decide which is best for you.

  • The first step is making an incision in one of the three positions, either the crease under the breast (inframammary), under the arms (axillary),or around the nipple (periareolar).Where the surgeon will make the incision depends upon the patient’s anatomy, the degree of enlargement needed, the type of device used, and obviously the patient’s choice.
  • The next step is the formation of a pocket either behind or in front of the pectoral muscles. This involves detaching the breast tissue from the chest muscles and connective tissues.
  • The implant is then inserted into this pocket and centered behind the breast.
  • After the surgery, the surgeon will stitch the incision with layered sutures or stitches and cover it with a skin adhesive dressing or surgical tape.
  • The breast augmentation operation usually takes an hour or 90 minutes.
  • The implants are not meant to last forever. They may need to be replaced after about 10 years due to problems with the implants, or changes in the breast.

What are the Risks of Breast Augmentation?

Every surgery has risks. According to a study, 50% of the women who had cosmetic breast augmentation experienced complications like pain, bleeding, hardening, or the need for another surgery. (3)

 The most common hazards associated with the procedure are:

  • Painful and swollen breasts
  • Soreness and bruising
  • Thick obvious scaring
  • Rupturing, folding, or leaking of the implant
  • Temporary change in the sensations in breast or nipples
  • Implant’s rotation in the breast
  • Rippling of the implant
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Bleeding
  • Risk of infections
  • Problems in breastfeeding
  • Capsule contracture

Breast Implants and Cancer- A Must Know for Everyone

Anyone planning to have breast augmentation surgery must be aware of breast implants associated immune cell cancer. It is called Breast Implant- Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).Although uncommon, women may develop the cancer in the scar tissue around the implant. FDA has reported 46 confirmed cases of BIA-ALCL in Australia and 3 deaths (4). Don’t forget to have regular breast cancer screening after the surgery. Examine your breasts regularly for their shape and size, and if you notice anything unusual, report it immediately to your doctor.


The patient is usually allowed to go home the same day after the surgery. Sutures are usually dissolved within a week. Complete recovery may take two weeks. It is recommended to wear a sports bra after the surgery for at least 3 months. Avoid lifting heavy weights for at least a month. Your doctor and the surgeon must provide you counseling on the following aspects

  • How to care for the breast and protect it from infection after the surgery
  • How to use the prescribed medications
  • What to do in case of any complication
  • What diet you should follow to recover faster
  • When to come for a visit after the surgery
  • When to call a doctor

Must seek your doctor if you have any unusual signs like

  • Infections, fever, rash, redness, or warmth in the breast area
  • Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, or shortness of breath


Breast augmentation surgery can change your breast’s shape and size, and improve your overall image. But don’t rush. Asking questions will help you make a better decision with the best results. Clear your mind of all the confusion before going for the procedure. Knowing everything before the procedure will keep you relaxed throughout the procedure and recover faster.

Additional Resources


American Society of Plastic Surgeons. New statistics reflect the changing face of plastic surgery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Published February 25, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2021.
Read Online

Arion HG (1965). “Retromammary Prosthesis”. Comptes Rendus de la Société Française de Gynécologie. 5.

Zuckerman D. What you need to know about breast implants. National Center for Health Research. Published November 24, 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.
Read Online

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Q and a about breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed December 8, 2021.
Read Online

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be used as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you have surrounding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it as a result of anything you read on this Site. 

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