Breast augmentation is a surgery to increase the size or change the shape of your breasts.
This procedure may be done for:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Smoking may increase the risk of complications.
This is an elective surgery. If you have any illnesses or you are in poor health, you should not have this procedure.
Silicone-filled breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. They typically need to be removed within 10 years. Your risk for complications increases the longer you have the implants.
You may be asked to provide a picture of a woman whose breasts you want yours to resemble. You also may be asked to look through an album of breast sizes and shapes to help the doctor understand the outcome you desire. Computer imaging may also be used to help determine desired results.
Your doctor may do the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Leading up to your procedure:
Local anesthesia may be used, but general anesthesia is usually used. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep. With local anesthesia, the selected area will be numb.
A cut in the skin will be made either underneath your breast, alongside the area around the nipple, in your underarm, or in your belly button. An implant or prosthesis will be placed through the incision. The implant can contain silicone gel or can be filled with salt water after it is placed. It may be placed between the skin/breast tissue and the muscle, underneath the connective tissue of the muscle, or under the muscle itself. You may or may not have a drainage tube placed around the implant. The incision will be closed with stitches and bandaged. The same procedure may be repeated for the other breast.
Side View of Breast Implantation
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About 1 to 2 hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may have some bruising and tenderness of the breasts for several weeks after surgery. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage the pain.
This procedure may be done in the hospital or surgery center. It may be possible to leave the hospital or surgery center on the same day of the procedure, or you may be asked to stay overnight in the hospital. Talk to your doctor about your options.
After the procedure:
Be sure that you follow up with your doctor. For silicone gel implants, you will need routine MRI scan screenings to check for tears or holes in the implant. The screenings are typically done 3 years after surgery and every 2 years after that.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Breast Implant Information
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Breast augmentation. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Smart Beauty Guide website. Available at:
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Accessed September 1, 2019.
Silicone gel-filled breast implants. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/breastimplants/ucm063871.htm. Accessed September 1, 2019.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 10/16/2020