Before you learn how a breast augmentation can help to correct breast appearance, it is important that you understand the underlying anatomy. The breasts are composed of different types of tissue known as glandular, fatty, and fibrous tissue, which lie over the pectoralis muscle, along the chest wall. The glandular tissues are composed of lobules and milk ducts. Together, lobules and milk ducts are responsible for producing and transporting milk to the nipple, respectively during lactation. The glands within the breast are surrounded by a layer of fatty tissue that gives the breast its shape and soft form. Suspensory ligaments, which are made of fibrous, or connective tissue, are intertwined amongst the breast glands and milk ducts. These suspensory ligaments attach the breast to the chest wall and allow it to remain suspended, but move freely with the body.
What Causes Breasts to Change Shape?
Although not the only factors that can contribute to breast appearance, the aging process and the effects of gravity play a primary role in the changes to the breast. Just like facial skin, the skin around the breast loses its elasticity in response to gradual breakdown of the skin’s support network, which causes the skin to become lax. In addition, the suspensory ligaments that attach the breast to the chest wall weaken and stretch over time in response to gravity. Additionally, the breasts enlarge during pregnancy and breast feeding, which causes the skin to stretch. Once the breasts reduce in size following pregnancy, the skin laxity may increase. Lastly, fluctuations in your weight and even hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause changes in the appearance of your breasts. Together all of these factors can cause the breast to droop and sag, or rotate in a downward direction.
The Reason Breast Augmentation and Breast Lifts Are Often Combined
Breast augmentation alone cannot correct sagging or drooping breasts. Simply increasing the volume, or size, of the breast will only cause the breast to sag more with time. When performed as a standalone procedure, breast augmentation can increase or balance the size of the breast, restore the breast volume, and restore the shape of the breast after partial or total loss. In contrast, during a breast lift procedure, loose, excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is tightened. As a result, the overall shape of the breasts is improved, and they are lifted to a new, more upright position. In combination, breast implants and a breast lift result in total rejuvenation, not only increasing the size of the breast, but restoring a firmer, perkier appearance as well.
Breast Augmentation Techniques
There are three general incision techniques used during breast augmentation, known as the areolar, inframammary, and transaxillary incision. Your physician will help you choose the incision that is best for you based on your preferences, anatomy, the position of your implants, and their preferred surgical technique.
A breast augmentation may last approximately two to four hours, depending on the complexity of the procedure and surgical technique that is used. Prior to the start of your procedure, the treatment area will be cleansed and anesthesia will be administered. Your physician will most likely administer general anesthesia in which you are asleep during the procedure. In addition, they will draw guidelines along the incision site.
Breast Augmentation Incision
To begin the procedure, the physician will make an incision along the predetermined line. Using a cautery device, the physician will open the incision in order to gain better access to the breast tissue below. Although the incision will be made as inconspicuously as possible, its length and appearance may vary depending on the type and size of implant, your body contours, and the physician’s preference.
Breast Tissue Dissection
The physician will continue to separate the breast tissue with a cautery device in order to expose the pectoralis muscle. With the aid of a breast dissector and their fingers, the physician will then carefully create a pocket in which to place the breast implant.
Breast implants can be placed in two general locations, known as subglandular and submuscular placement. Subglandular placement refers to an implant that is placed in a pocket formed beneath the breast tissue, but above the pectoralis muscle. In contrast, submuscular placement refers to an implant that is placed in a pocket partially or completely beneath the pectoralis muscle, against the chest wall. You should discuss the benefits of the different implant placement options in more detail with your physician.
Breast Implant Placement
There are two general types of breast implants known as saline-filled and silicone-filled implants. Most saline implants are filled during surgery, while silicone implants are typically pre-filled. The physician will insert the implant into the pocket and visually inspect your breasts to ensure that they are symmetric. They may adjust the pocket and the position of the breast implant itself to ensure that the desired look is achieved.
Breast Augmentation Results
You will be able to notice a dramatic difference in the shape of your breasts immediately following your procedure. You may continue to notice a change in their appearance as swelling subsides. In fact, it may take up to one year before the final results from your procedure are apparent. You will have permanent scars; however, the scars will slowly fade to thin, white lines with time. It is important to realize that if you become pregnant after your procedure, the effects of pregnancy and breast feeding may compromise the results, and cause your breasts to sag and change shape. While a breast augmentation cannot stop the aging process, it can help you restore the fuller, shapelier appearance that you desire for years to come.