60 to 90 mins
0 - 1 night
General or local with sedation
2 - 9 months
Breast enlargement surgery, also known as a breast augmentation or an augmentation mammoplasty, is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures in the UK. It is important that you have a good understanding of what breast enlargement surgery entails before you schedule your procedure.
This overview provides an introduction to the procedure, recommended preparation, and aftercare related to breast enlargement surgery.
60 to 90 mins
0 - 1 night
General or local with sedation
2 - 9 months
Breast augmentation aims to enhance the size and shape of the breasts by giving them a fuller and more contoured look. Your surgeon may either use a breast implant for the enlargement, or they may use liposuction to remove fat from one part of the body, then transfer that fat to the breasts. If a surgeon uses fat to enlarge the breasts, it is called a breast enlargement by fat transfer or, “lipofilling”.
These are some common reasons you may choose to have breast enlargement surgery:
Although breast enlargement surgery can improve the shape of the breasts, it cannot correct severe sagging (breast ptosis). A breast uplift (also called a mastopexy) may be more suitable for patients with breast ptosis. Your surgeon may also suggest combining your breast enlargement with an uplift in order to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing result.
Birmingham, Bridgend, Chester, Goole, Harpenden, Huddersfield, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Rochdale, Sawbridgeworth, Solihull, Swansea, West Sussex & Windsor.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) are the two leading societies for plastic surgeons in the UK. Surgeons can be members of one or both societies, and have years of experience and regular training.
At Medbelle, we only work with BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons to ensure that all patients receive the highest quality of care. It is vital for you to check that your surgeon is a BAAPS/BAPRAS member. This will make sure that you are in the safest hands during your treatment.
Breast augmentation may be an option for women looking to enhance the size and shape of their breasts. The ideal candidate for breast enlargement surgery is likely:
You may want to have breast enlargement surgery for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common include the following:
Breast enlargement surgery gives the breasts a fuller and more contoured appearance. A patient can choose to have this surgery done for a variety of aesthetic reasons.
Generally, breast augmentation can:
It is important to be aware that although breast enlargement surgery can enhance breast shape and size, it cannot correct severely drooping breasts. Breast uplift surgery is a better option for patients with severely sagging breasts (also called breast ptosis). Your surgeon may also choose to combine breast augmentation with a breast uplift in order to give you the best results possible.
Breast enlargement surgery may be an option for those who have had their breasts removed because of breast cancer.
Surgical removal of one or both the breasts is called mastectomy. A mastectomy may also be performed as a preventative measure for those at high-risk of developing breast cancer in the future because of a genetic predisposition or family history. Breast augmentation is one way to restore breast shape for those who have had a mastectomy.
Overall, if you are thinking about having breast enlargement surgery, you can increase your suitability for surgery by optimising your health. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking, and reducing your alcohol intake are all ways you can increase your chances of being a great candidate for breast enlargement surgery, no matter the reason you choose to have it done.
Breast enlargement surgery often lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. Before surgery, you must follow the guidance given to you by your surgeon regarding eating, drinking and taking medications the night and weeks before.
The procedure involves the following steps:
First, you will meet your surgeon and anaesthetist to sign the consent form. This will happen either on the day of surgery or during your pre-operative assessment a week before. The surgery can take place once the consent forms are signed.
After checking in to the hospital, your surgeon will draw marks on the breasts and discuss the exact goals of the surgery with you.
Your anaesthetist will administer your anaesthetic. They may use either a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation. You and your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will discuss which anaesthetic to use during your first consultation.
Your surgeon will clean the skin on your breasts and torso then place a surgical drape over you before making the incisions necessary for your breast enlargement. Incisions are generally placed very deliberately to make sure the scars are obscured and the healed result is more aesthetically pleasing.
There are three areas where an incision can be made during your breast enlargement procedure:
Your surgeon will then insert the breast implant into your breast. They can place the implant over the chest muscle (pectoralis major), under the chest muscle, or a combination of both.
Breast implants placed over the chest muscle can create a more defined breast shape as the implant is closer to the skin’s surface. This procedure method is slightly less invasive, so you may feel less pain in the first few days after a submammary breast enlargement surgery. Placing the implant over the muscle also allows less movement of the implant when the chest muscle moves or flexes.
Breast implants placed under the chest muscle are less likely to be felt or seen. This is because the muscle provides excellent soft-tissue padding. As these implants are not directly below the breast tissue, they are also less likely to interfere with mammograms. This placement is however more invasive and therefore requires a longer than average recovery period.
A dual plane implant (also called a bi-planar augmentation) combines both subglandular and subpectoral techniques. The top part of the implant sits under the muscle. This reduces the risk of implant visibility and ripples. The bottom part sits directly in contact with the breast tissue. This helps give the breast a fuller lower half and more curvaceous shape.
Your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will work with you to choose which technique will work best for you.
Your surgeon will then close the incision and apply a dressing over it. You may have drains put in below the skin to reduce swelling and bruising. The drains are usually removed before you are discharged and go home.
Finally, you are taken back to the ward to recover from anaesthetic. You should be able to go home the same day of your surgery or the following day.
The overall results are visible straight away after surgery. It may, however, take up to 8 weeks for the swelling and bruising to subside. After this you will be able to see the full cosmetic result of your breast augmentation.
Medbelle surgeons only use the highest-quality implant brands that are rigorously tested for both quality and safety. The size of your breast implant is measured by volume cubic centimetres (cc). Once you have picked your desired cup size, your surgeon will work with you to identify the perfect implant size. It is, however, important to keep in mind that breast implant volumes do not necessarily equal a certain bra cup size. You can use ‘The Rice Test’ to get an idea of how you would look with different sizes of breast implants.
Every breast implant has a thin outer layer made of silicone. This outer layer of the breast implant can be either smooth or textured. Breast implants are filled with either saline, silicone gel, or highly-cohesive silicone gel.
Saline implants consist of an outer silicone shell filled with sterile salt water (saline). The surgeon will insert the empty silicone shell into the breast, then inflate it with saline through a small valve. This means the insertion of saline implants requires a smaller incision and therefore leaves a smaller scar than breast augmentation surgery using silicone implants.
Saline implants are often the least popular type of implant. This is because they are more prone to rupture, deflation and loss of volume over time when compared to silicone implants. Due to their consistency, they may also look and feel less natural than silicone implants.
Silicone gel implants consist of a thin outer silicone shell filled with a soft silicone gel. Insertion of silicone gel implants requires a larger incision when compared to saline implants because they are at their full size before implantation.
Silicone gel implants have a firmer consistency than saline implants. This makes them less prone to wrinkling and means they feel and look more natural than saline implants.
Highly-cohesive gel implants consist of an outer silicone shell and contain a much firmer silicone gel than standard silicone implants. This firm consistency provides the most natural look and feel of any of the current types of implants. Highly-cohesive silicone gel implants are also the least likely type of implant to rupture. Even if they do rupture, the contents do not spill out as they do with the other types of implants.
Breast implants are commonly either round or a teardrop shape. Both shapes help create a full, natural-looking breast, but the shape of implant that is best for you will depend on what you would like to achieve from your breast augmentation. Your surgeon will work with you to find an implant shape that will provide you with the best aesthetic results from your surgery.
Round implants add volume to both the upper and lower parts of the breast. This allows them to give the breasts an overall fuller look, making them a good choice for patients who want to add more all-around volume to the breast.
Teardrop implants add more volume to the lower part of the breast than the upper part. This gives a more discreet look that closely follows the natural shape of breasts. This is typically a better option for patients looking to achieve a more natural-looking result from breast enlargement surgery.
Consultations for breast enlargement surgery usually last between 15 to 60 minutes.
During this appointment, your surgeon will discuss the following with you:
After your surgeon has discussed your medical history and medications, they will examine and measure your breasts. This includes measuring and recording the size of your breasts, their shape, quality of skin, and the placement of the nipples and areolae. They will then take photographs of your breasts and discuss your procedure options.
When recommending a procedure to you, your surgeon will consider:
In order to make sure you are informed, your surgeon will also talk you through the potential risks and complications associated with breast enlargement surgery. It is very important for you to be familiar with all the potential risks before you give consent to have the surgery performed on you.
There are some important questions you should ask your surgeon during the consultation for your breast enlargement surgery:
Your consultation is your chance to be as honest and candid as possible with your surgeon. It is important to be honest about what you want to achieve so that you can find out if this result is realistic or not. At Medbelle, our BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons want to help you achieve the best results possible.
Although a breast enlargement surgery is an elective procedure, risks and complications are a possibility you should be aware of. Your surgeon will discuss all the risks and complications associated with breast enlargement surgery with you during your consultation. Choosing a highly experienced BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will reduce the chance of any risks and complications occurring during or following your breast enlargement surgery.
The risks and complications associated with breast enlargement surgery include but are not limited to:
It is normal to have some mild bleeding and bruising after your breast enlargement surgery. In some cases, however, the bleeding may be more severe. This usually happens shortly after surgery, but can potentially occur within the weeks following your procedure.
After surgery, the breasts will be very swollen and tight, and you may need to have further surgery to correct this problem if it persists. You may also need to spend an extra night in the hospital if your swelling does not subside. If treated promptly, swelling and bleeding is unlikely to adversely affect the results of your breast enlargement surgery.
As breast enlargement surgery requires your surgeon to make incisions on the skin, scarring is unavoidable. In most cases, however, the scars are mild and fade over time.
Infection is a risk that comes with any surgery. If you develop a mild infection your surgeon will give you antibiotics to treat it.
In order to catch the infection early, it is vital for you to understand the associated signs. These include but are not limited to:
If you notice any of these symptoms, notify your surgeon immediately.
Smoking also increases your chance of contracting an infection after surgery. It does this by reducing blood flow throughout your body, which slows your rate of healing overall and especially after surgery. If your incisions on your breasts do not close properly or quickly after surgery, you will be left vulnerable to infection as well as other major complications. This is why it is vital for you to stop smoking at least 6 weeks before your breast enhancement procedure.
One of the most common risks associated with breast enlargement surgery is altered sensation in the breasts. Typically, patients feel either increased or reduced sensitivity (numbness) around the scar, nipple, or areola after surgery.
Both numbness and over-sensitivity gradually return to normal in time. However, it can take several months before this happens. In some rare cases, the numbness or altered sensation can persist and may be permanent.
During surgery, the blood supply to some areas of the breast including the nipple, skin, fat, or breast tissue may be lost. If this occurs, the affected area may die. This tissue death is called ‘necrosis’ and is a very rare complication of surgery.
Necrosis is more likely to occur in smokers. This is because smoking reduces blood flow in the body, which in turn slows healing and increases the risk of complications like necrosis and other more serious risks like stroke or heart attack. This risk particularly dangerous when operating on or near smaller parts of the body like the nipples or breast that have delicate blood vessels that can be easily damaged during surgery. To give yourself the best chance at healing quickly and properly, it is vital to stop smoking at least 6 weeks before your procedure date.
If necrosis does occur, you will need further surgery to remove the dead tissue. This is one of the least common risks associated with breast enlargement surgery.
When your surgeon places any kind of implant (whether saline or silicone) in the body, the body’s natural response is to form a capsule of fibrous scar tissue around it. Once formed, this scar tissue has a tendency to contract. In some cases, the contraction can lead to tightening and hardening of the capsule. As the capsule tightens, the implant and breast become abnormally firm, or sometimes hard and uncomfortable. Usually, this causes the implant to move upwards on the chest, giving the breasts a high and round appearance with the rest of the breast tissue sitting below the implant.
Capsular contracture is the most common long-term complication associated with breast enlargement surgery. It occurs less commonly with saline implants than with silicone implants. In most cases of capsular contracture, your surgeon will recommend removing the implant and fibrous capsule via surgery. This procedure is called a capsulectomy and it aims to restore breast symmetry and relieve discomfort. This can involve either complete removal of the implants, or replacing them after the capsule is removed.
A seroma is a pocket of fluid that commonly develops 7 to 10 days after surgery, usually under and around the incision. If this happens, the incision on the breast may feel swollen or you may feel like there is fluid under the skin. The development of a seroma can increase your recovery time. Most seromas resolve on their own, but in some cases, a surgeon may need to drain the fluid.
After a breast enlargement, the implant may cause the skin of the breasts to crease and fold in unintended ways. The risk of developing creasing and folds is very low. It does however, occur more commonly in thin patients with small breasts who choose to have saline implants.
A rupture occurs when an implant splits open and the contents leak out into the body. If this occurs, the implant should be removed. Ruptured implants can be replaced with new ones during surgery if the patient wishes.
Rupture can be caused by damage to the implant after it is inserted, or as a result of mishandling of the implant before and/or during surgery. This is why it is crucial to choose an experienced surgeon that knows how to handle the implant appropriately.
Ruptures are more likely to occur with saline implants. They may be harder to detect in silicone implants, as the contents do not leak out as readily. If a silicone rupture goes undetected, it is called a ‘silent rupture’. The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) recommend patients with silicone implants have regular MRI checks after their surgery to screen for silent ruptures.
Over time, both natural breasts and breasts with implants are effected by gravity and begin to sag lower on the chest. Larger implants generally sag to a greater extent than smaller ones. The gravity effect can reduce the firmness of the breasts. It occurs due to a mix of things including loss of skin elasticity, the effect of gravity, and loss of breast tissue volume (especially after pregnancy and breastfeeding). This sagging can be corrected with a breast uplift.
During your breast enlargement, your surgeon will create an 'pocket' below or above the chest muscles where they will place the implant. This pocket can sometimes change shape causing the implants to move outwards towards the armpits. This leads to a reduction or loss of cleavage.
Lateralisation is more likely to occur if someone with a small amount of natural breast tissue gets large implants that dramatically increase their cup size. It is also more likely to occur if a surgeon places the implants above the muscle.
If lateralisaiton does occur, your surgeon can correct it with further surgery.
Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a cancer of the lymph glands. Symptoms can include swelling of the breasts or fluid/mass build-up around the implant. This is however, an extremely rare condition. Treatment involves surgical removal of the breast capsule and implant, and in some cases, chemotherapy. If you and your surgeon detect and treat BIA-ALCL early enough, treatment is curative.
The placement of a breast implant can sometimes interfere with the natural fold at the bottom of the breast (the infra-mammary fold). A “double bubble” occurs when an implant drops below this fold, creating another breast crease below the existing one. Implants placed below the chest muscle (sub-pectoral implants), are at greater risk of developing this complication.
If this does occur, revisionary surgery may be necessary to resolve the look of it.
To keep your implant in place in the breast, your surgeon will create a ‘pocket’ either below or above the chest muscle. This pocket can sometimes lose stability and allow the implant to move. When this happens, the tissue supporting the implant at the bottom of the breast allows the implants to drop down which pulls the surrounding breast tissue down with it. This results in misshapen breasts that are very full at the bottom and may have nipples that appear unnaturally high. Further surgery can restore the breasts to a more aesthetically pleasing position.
There is always a risk that you may be unhappy with the results of your breast enlargement. For example, you may be unhappy with the size, shape or symmetry of your breasts. Choosing your surgeon carefully can help you avoid this outcome. Medbelle suggests making sure your surgeon fully understands your expectations and is honest with you about the feasibility of these expectations.
It is important that you prepare well before you have your breast surgery. We recommend the following tips to help with your breast surgery preparation:
Immediately after your breast surgery, you will not be allowed to drive your car. Your surgeon may instruct you to wait 5 days to 2 weeks before you start driving again. It is therefore important to arrange for a friend or family member to escort you home after you have your surgery. The Medbelle team can also help you with your travel arrangements!
You will also need adult supervision for the first 24 hours after your breast surgery. This is because you may still be effected by the anaesthetic and painkillers in this time period.
After your breast surgery, you may be more comfortable sleeping propped up. You should therefore have extra pillows on your bed, and rest and sleep on your back in an inclined position for the first few days.
It is important for you to get plenty of rest after your surgery. You must however, be mobile and take occasional light walks around the house. Doing this helps reduce the risk of developing a blood clot in your legs.
You should put hard-to-reach cupboard items like crockery, mugs and dry food on the kitchen counter before surgery. This prevents you from placing strain on your incisions by having to reach for items.
It may also be handy to clean the house, do your laundry and take out the bins before the day of your procedure.
As you will not be able to lift anything heavy for a while after your surgery, you should do a grocery shop the day before. It may also be useful to cool some meals and keep them in the freezer, so that you do not need to worry about cooking either.
To help with your recovery, you should ask family and friends to help look after pets and young children.
It is important to maintain a healthy diet after surgery. You should have high-protein, low-sodium meals that include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure to drink lots of water and caffeine-free beverages. Try to avoid any food and drinks that contain high amounts of salt and sugar.
It will be more comfortable for you to wear clothing that opens from the front in the first few days after surgery. Wearing slip-on shoes may also help recovery as they don’t require you to bend over. Your surgeon will tell you if you need to bring a post-operative bra with you on the day of your surgery.
In order to reduce the risk of complications during and after your breast surgery, our Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons promote the following advice:
A high BMI, excessive alcohol intake, smoking and recreational drug use (whether medicinal or recreational), all increase the risk of complications developing. Smoking in particular increases the risk of infection and delays the wound healing process. Our surgeons therefore advise you to stop smoking and using all nicotine products for at least 6 weeks before your surgery.
There are also many homeopathic medications available over the counter that can negatively affect the outcome of your procedure. These medications can include, but are not limited to, those containing: ginger, ginkgo, cod liver oil, Aspirin, St John’s Wort and many different multivitamins.
You should therefore stop taking all homeopathic medication 2 weeks before having your surgery. This reduces the risk of post-operative bleeding, excessive bruising and haematoma formation.
Your breast surgery preparation will help in making sure you are fit enough for surgery.
During your consultation, your surgeon will give you specific instructions regarding their preferred method of aftercare for breast enlargement surgery patients.
After your breast enlargement surgery, you will likely be able to return home the same day or the day after. Before you leave the hospital, a post-operative appointment will be arranged so you can meet with your surgeon within the following two weeks. During this appointment, your surgeon will examine your breasts, remove any non-dissolvable stitches and address any surgical complications.
As part of your breast enlargement aftercare process, your surgeon will give you specific time frames and advice regarding things such as time off work, sports & exercise, driving etc. These time frames can differ greatly from surgeon to surgeon. It is therefore important to follow the specific advice that your surgeon gives you, as it is specific to your recovery.
However, we have provided below some general guidelines and information about breast enlargement aftercare.
The time you need to take off work after breast enlargement surgery depends on the type of work you do.
If your job requires any level of manual labour, especially lifting heavy objects, reaching for objects above your head, or any strenuous physical work, you may have to take a minimum of one full week off.
If your work is relatively low or no impact and requires only work at a desk, you may only need to take 4 to 5 days off work.
No matter your role, even light-impact duties should be avoided for at least 1 to 2 weeks.
Although you will need to rest after your surgery, it is important that you do not stay in bed all day. Even though you will have had surgery on your chest, occasional light walks every day can help prevent blood clots from developing in your legs.
While you should keep lightly mobile, you should only return to regular exercise on your surgeon's guidance.
Below is a broad guideline for returning to exercise after breast enlargement surgery:
Do not exercise at all. Even minor aerobic activities may lead to increased swelling and a longer recovery time.
You may begin to resume sports like cycling that do not involve vigorous movement.
6 weeks after your surgery, you should be able to resume all types of exercise again.
You will not be able to drive immediately after your breast enlargement surgery because you will still be slightly under the influence of anaesthesia. You will, therefore, need to arrange for a family member or friend to take you home after your procedure.
Driving may also be difficult or impossible for you for up to a week after surgery. This is because breast enlargement surgery impacts the muscles in your chest necessary to push and pull the wheel with your arms. Even if it is comfortable for you to drive in the week following your surgery, the NHS recommends you avoid driving for at least 1 week after surgery to ensure you do not hurt yourself or slow your healing.
After your breast enlargement surgery, you will have to wear a post-operative compression garment for anywhere from 2 to 5 weeks. The amount of time you will have to wear this "recovery bra" depends on your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon’s advice. Your compression garment is vital in the early days of your breast enlargement aftercare as it helps reduce swelling and bruising and helps you achieve the best result possible.
There are a number of different techniques that your surgeon may recommend to help you heal your scars after your breast enlargement. These include:
Your surgeon will advise you specifically on how to take care of your scars.
Although you will see an immediate difference in the size of your breasts after surgery, it may take 2 to 9 months before you are able to appreciate the full cosmetic results of your breast enlargement. Swelling and some slight shape differences may persist for up to 9 months.
It is important to keep in mind that exact recovery times vary from patient to patient. Timing is different for each patient and each surgeon gives different advice and timelines. Therefore, it is important to follow all the post-operative advice your surgeon gives you.
It is important to research your breast enlargement well before going ahead with the procedure. Common breast enlargement FAQs include the following:
This depends on what type of work you do. If your job includes a lot of physical activity you may have to take at least one full week off. If it does not involve a lot of activity you may only need to take 4 to 5 days off work. In any case, you should avoid even light duties for at least 1 to 2 weeks.
Although a rare complication, some women do find they have difficulties or are unable to breastfeed after a breast enlargement procedure. However, if you were able to breastfeed before your procedure, you will likely still be able to breastfeed after healing.
Breast enlargement can be done in several ways, some of which are more likely to preserve the ability to breastfeed. These include making incisions (cuts) under the breast or in the armpit or having the implant placed under the chest muscle. These measures may help prevent damage to the milk ducts and nerves in your breasts.
Be sure to discuss this with your Medebelle surgeon so you can both decide what is the best option for you and your breast surgery.
If you are currently breastfeeding, your surgeon may require you to stop nursing at least 3 to 6 months before surgery. This allows the breasts to settle before your procedure.
If you’ve recently had a baby, your surgeon may require you to wait 3 to 6 months before you are able to have a breast enlargement.
Breast implants are designed to mimic the feel of natural breasts. Silicone gel implants, especially highly-cohesive silicone gel, have a more natural feel than saline implants.
Most cosmetic surgeons will be happy to see you for an initial consultation without a referral from your GP. If you plan to go ahead with surgery however, your surgeon may contact your GP for details regarding your medical history.
Cosmetic procedures such as a breast enlargement, are usually not available on the NHS. If however, you have had a lumpectomy or mastectomy for breast cancer treatment, you may be eligible for a breast reconstruction on the NHS.
Further surgery may be required for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is needed following the development of a complication such as capsular contracture or implant rupture. Some patients also choose to have further surgery to change the size, shape or type of implant.
A breast enlargement may not suitable for women who:
A breast enlargement may interfere with the treatment of the infection or cancer. It may also compromise the safety of the baby during pregnancy.
Major weight loss or weight gain may affect the look of your breasts. Drastic weight gain will result in a less noticeable size-effect of the implants; whilst drastic weight loss will make their effect more prominent. The effect of weight loss or gain will however, vary between individuals.
If you have any other questions that are not been listed under these breast enlargement FAQs, give us a call!