Making the decision to undergo any surgical procedure is a big step to take, and choosing to have a breast augmentation is no different. You will undoubtedly have questions that you will want to ask and you may have fears that you wish to talk about, both about the procedure itself and also the effect that the surgery or implants may have on your body. We have compiled a list of questions that you may want to ask before you make your decision:

What is breast augmentation?

The most popular cosmetic operation, breast augmentation can alter the shape and increase the size of your breasts with a synthetic implant surgically inserted behind the breast (either above muscle or underneath muscle – more on that below).

What are implants made of?

All breast implants are made of an outer shell of silicone elastomer (very strong synthetic shell) and are filled with either silicone gel or sterile salt solution (saline). Saline implants used to be considered as giving a more natural feel, but now there are many options of silicone gel cohesiveness allowing for a selection of suitable firmness.

What’s the difference between round and anatomical (tear drop shaped) implants?

Round implants add volume to the upper part of the breast giving a lifted look, while contoured (anatomical) implants give a more discreet look more in keeping with the natural shape of the breast.

How will I know what’s right for me?

The best way is by looking at photos of other breasts. Then you’ll be able to show your surgeon what you want, and they’ll be able to advise on whether it’s possible.

They’ll talk you through your options, advise on what shape and appearance of implants will work for your shape and body. They’ll typically give you an implant to feel. Many surgeons use sizing kits that will help you make a decision on the look you are after.

What’s the difference between subglandular and submuscular insertion?

Implants may be placed either beneath the breast tissue on top of the pectoralis muscle (subglandular) or partially beneath the pectoralis major muscle (submuscular). There are advantages and disadvantages of each placement, and there are even additional options that you can discuss with your physician.

If you haven’t got a lot of breast tissue, your surgeon may well recommend placing the implants under your muscle. If you have more natural breast tissue, then your surgeon may recommend placing the implant on top of the muscle, which often has a shorter recovery time and less discomfort.

How much does breast augmentation cost?

This can vary, please consult your surgeon.

Where will the surgeon make incisions, and how big will they be?

It really depends on your surgeon – they will decide the procedure that will best suit your body and the implants chosen. The three main methods are in the crease under your breast, around your nipple (a ‘peri-areolar incision’), or under your arm (an ‘axilla’ incision). The size of the incision will depend on the site your surgeon chooses, your body shape and the implant choice.

How big can I go? I want my breasts to be big, but not too big.

This is dependent on your frame and body type. A size that looks great on someone else may not suit you, and vice versa. Your natural breast shape will also dictate the final look. Talk to your surgeon; they will be able to advise which size they feel is appropriate for your body shape. Take pictures along to your consultation so that the surgeon is aware of the look you are hoping for, and they will try their best to accommodate you. The decision you make with regards to size also needs to take into account how active your lifestyle is. For example, if you do a lot of running, large implants may feel like they are in your way.

How will I look with breast implants?

Research on the internet and in magazines to find a look you like, taking your own body frame and size into consideration. During your consultation with your surgeon, you will be able to ‘try on’ different sizes. Take with you various items of clothing to see how they will look with your new breasts. Your breasts will look different in each style of clothing, so take a range of clothing in various fits. This will give you an indication of how you will look following surgery.

How will breast implants feel?

This depends on the type of implant you and your surgeon decide is suitable for your needs, along with the placement of the implant. Due to its properties, a silicone implant tends to feel more natural than a saline implant. If the implant is placed under the muscle, this will also feel more like a natural breast, as there will be more breast tissue over the implant. Comparing larger breast implants with smaller implants, a smaller implant will feel more natural, due to the proportion of natural breast tissue in comparison to the proportion of implant material.

Will I have sensitivity in my nipples?

There is a risk of losing nipple sensitivity following breast implant surgery; approximately one in seven women will find that their nipples are less sensitive than before*. If the implant is placed below your chest muscle, it is very possible that sensation to your nipples will return, usually within three to six months following the operation. Some people find that their nipples are more sensitive after breast implant surgery; however, if your nipples become painful, speak to your doctor or surgeon about it.

Source – NHS Direct

Can I breastfeed with breast implants?

Most women with breast implants are able to successfully breastfeed, although some will find they are unable to breastfeed, or they have reduced milk flow*. Most implant procedures will not affect your ability to produce milk, and there is no clinical evidence of any danger to your baby if you have breast implants and choose to breastfeed. If you haven’t experienced any loss of nipple sensation after your implant operation, you are more likely to be able to produce a full milk supply.

Source – NHS Direct

What is the average time to replace breast implants?
Your breast implants will need to be replaced during the course of your life. Implants are not lifetime devices and are subject to wear and tear like any other implant device e.g. Tooth fillings, heart valves, hip joints.1

What happens if my breast implants break?

We have one of the lowest rupture2 rates on the market, and you’re fully protected with our GCA Comfort Guarantee. Many women who have experienced an implant rupture have stated that they had no symptoms. However, some women have reported that they have pain, burning or a numb sensation in their breast. Symptoms of a rupture can also include an unusual swelling or hard lump in your breast, redness, or a change in the shape or size of your breast. If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see either your GP, or the surgeon who performed your operation. All materials have been assessed for biocompatibility and therefore if your implant has ruptured, it is not a medical emergency. If rupture is suspected, the implant should be removed. Silicone implants that have been confirmed to have leaked or ruptured may cause issues such as granulomas (small masses of inflamed tissue) if left for a long time, therefore the implant will need to be removed upon the advice of your surgeon.

What should I do if I am concerned about my implants?

If you have any concerns about your implants at all, it is best to make an appointment to see your GP, or contact the surgeon who did your operation.

Is there a difference in how the different types of implants will bleed or leak?

We have one of the lowest rupture2 rates on the market, and you’re fully protected with our GCA Comfort Guarantee. Some silicone gel may diffuse or “bleed” through the shell of an intact implant into the scar tissue or capsule that surrounds the implant. Implant shell and silicone gel improvements have reduced this bleeding to a minimum.
Breast implants may rupture over time and need to be removed or replaced. Rupture may also be related to force or trauma. If a gel filled implant ruptures, the silicone gel may be contained within the scar capsule that has formed around the implant. Removal or replacement of the implant is necessary. In the case of a shell rupture with a saline filled implant the implant deflates and loses volume which results in a breast asymmetry and the saline solution is absorbed by the body. The asymmetry can surgically be corrected by an implant replacement.

1.Cohen BE, Biggs TM, Cronin ED, Collins DR Jr. Assessment and longevity of the silicone gel breast implant. Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 1997 May:99(6):1597-601 PMID:9145128®”]