Women desiring breast enlargement (augmentation) fall into three broad groups. Those who were born with small breasts, those who have suffered a sagging or shrinkage of the breasts after breastfeeding or with age, and those who have had a breast removed because of cancer (breast reconstruction).
Provided the patient is healthy, will benefit from the procedure, and is willing to have the operation there are no other criteria to be met.
The operation involves a two or three day stay in hospital. Techniques vary from one surgeon to another, but normally a small cut is made under each breast or in the armpit, and through this a plastic bag of saline gel (a prosthesis) is inserted to increase the size and improve the shape of the breast.
Often a small tube is left behind in the wound to drain off excess fluids that may accumulate. Bandages are tightly bound around the chest and breasts for a few days.
The patient should rest for a week to ten days after the operation before returning to normal duties. The stitches are taken out in two stages about one and two weeks after the operation. After six weeks the breasts feel and look completely natural, and the tiny scar is hidden under the breast fold when standing, or in the armpit, so that the briefest bikini can be worn.
Complications are unusual, but include excess bleeding and infection.
The most common postoperative problem is breast capsule contraction. This occurs months after the procedure and is caused by the body laying down too much fibrous tissue around the implant, which results in the breast feeling firmer than normal.
There has never been any link demonstrated between this operation and the development of breast cancer, the woman can still breast feed after the operation, and can still check herself routinely for breast lumps.
An attractive bust may improve a woman’s self image and esteem, but the operation should not be done for the wrong reasons. It will probably not save a dicey marriage, men will not start rushing to the door and her sex life is not suddenly going to improve.