For many patients, a breast augmentation can boost confidence, improve self-image, offer desired aesthetic improvements after a weight loss journey, or restore the appearance of the breasts following a lumpectomy or mastectomy.

When performed by a skilled, experienced plastic surgeon, a breast augmentation can provide long-lasting and natural-looking results. With that said, every person’s body and aesthetic goals are different, and it is common for individuals considering a breast augmentation to have questions about the procedure. 

Here are answers to a few of the most common questions patients have about breast augmentation.

What is breast augmentation? 

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that alters the size or shape of the breasts. 

Depending on the patient’s body and goals, there are a number of different methods that may be used in the procedure. The most common method involves the placement of implants filled with either silicone or saline. 

When performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, a breast augmentation using implants can provide natural-looking results with minimal health risks to the patient. Using implants also offers the patient more control over the changes to the shape and size of their breasts.

However, some patients may prefer a natural breast augmentation, in which tissue is transferred to the breasts from another part of the body. A natural breast augmentation can result in more natural-feeling breasts and does not involve introducing foreign material, which can be a concern for some patients. 

However, fat transferred to the breasts during a natural breast augmentation may shift or be resorbed by the body over time, and this procedure is best suited for those looking for a small increase in bust size. Natural breast augmentation is not suitable for most patients. 

How do you choose a new size?

The best way to choose the size and shape of your implants is to consult with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. Modern implants differ not only by width and volume but also by shape, projection, viscosity, and fill pressure. The best size for you will also depend on your body type and what results you are looking for.

An experienced plastic surgeon will be able to guide you through your different options and help you choose the implant size that will help you meet your aesthetic goals. 

What is the recovery process? 

The recovery process for a breast augmentation is typically quite manageable. Most patients can return home with an adult companion within a few hours of their procedure and can expect to return to work within a couple of days. 

You will need to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions carefully and will want to wear a custom-fit bra and loose-fitting shirts for at least the first week. To allow your body enough time to heal fully, it is also important to refrain from strenuous upper body exercise and heavy lifting for about four weeks following your procedure.

Your surgeon should provide you with thorough instructions and complimentary follow-up appointments to help you achieve the quickest possible recovery.

What are the different types of breast implants? 

Breast implants can vary by material, shape, and placement. 

Implant material

Silicone is the most popular material for breast implants because silicone implants feel more like natural breast tissue and maintain their shape more consistently over time. Some patients prefer implants filled with saline because they are comparatively cheaper and can be placed with a smaller incision. 

Implant shape

Patients may also choose either round or teardrop-shaped implants. Round implants are generally preferred by most patients because they add greater projection and are less likely to wrinkle or become displaced over time. They also tend to be less costly than teardrop implants. 

Some patients still prefer teardrop implants because their sloping shape more closely mimics the natural shape of the breast. The main drawback of teardrop implants is that they are more likely to shift and become displaced over time. Also, teardrop implants are always textured.  Texturing has been associated with some specific complications that should be discussed carefully with your surgeon.

Implant placement

Implants may also be placed either over or under the pectoral muscles of the chest. Placing implants above the muscle is easier and may lead to a less painful recovery period, but below-muscle placement is often preferable for several reasons.

Compared to implants placed above the muscle, subpectoral implants tend to result in less internal scar tissue and create a more natural-looking shape for the breasts. They are also less likely to shift over time and interfere with mammography.

Some experienced plastic surgeons also offer a dual-plane approach, where the top portion of the implant is placed below the pectoral muscle and the bottom 10-20% is placed directly below the breast tissue. This technique allows the breast implant to settle into a more natural shape over time while still offering the benefits of subpectoral implants. 

How much does it cost, and will insurance pay for it?

The exact cost of your breast augmentation may vary depending on the methods used in your procedure, your location, and many other factors. Generally speaking, the best way to determine how much your surgery will cost is to consult directly with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. 

Since breast augmentation is usually considered a purely aesthetic procedure, insurance will not cover the cost of breast augmentation. In cases of congenital breast deformities, defects from biopsies or lumpectomy, and severe asymmetries, breast augmentation may be covered by insurance. Your plastic surgeon’s office should be able to offer further guidance with regard to insurance coverage for your breast augmentation procedure.