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Five questions to ask your plastic surgeon about breast augmentation


You have been thinking long and hard about breast implants, talking to girlfriends about their own procedures, and maybe doing some online research as well. Chances are, while you have gathered some helpful information, much of what you have heard may not be applicable, or could be outdated, incorrect, or in the worst cases, complete hogwash. The only accurate way to find out if a breast augmentation is right for you will be to meet with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon for an in-person examination. Listed below are five important questions to ask during a breast augmentation consultation.

Is your plastic surgeon board certified? How much experience does he/she have with breast augmentation procedures?

Women should only put their trust in a reputable, experienced plastic surgeon, board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This ensures extensive training with the most current aesthetic techniques. Additionally, your surgeon should have years, if not decades, of breast augmentation experience. Discuss what percentage of their practice is dedicated to breast augmentation procedures, and investigate what type of implants he/she uses the most, saline or silicone.

What is the most common breast augmentation complication your surgeon deals with in their practice? What is their rate of capsular contracture?

Learn as much as you can about the common breast augmentation complications, especially how often your surgeon deals with these issues. Capsular contracture (hard and painful scar tissue that forms around the breast implant) is a frequent post-op complication. Ask about your surgeon's reoperation rates. Finally, ask your plastic surgeon about the specific steps to take should you encounter a post-op complication, or if you are simply unhappy with the final results from your breast augmentation procedure.

Are you a good candidate for breast augmentation at this time? If so, what size or type implant does your surgeon suggest and why?

Your surgeon will perform a physical examination during your breast augmentation consultation. He/she will also discuss your medical history, aesthetic desires, and any plans to have children in the future. Putting all of these factors together, he/she can determine if you are a good candidate for a breast augmentation. Finally, a reputable plastic surgeon will have implant sizers that you can try on under a tight t-shirt or your favorite top. This step will help you decide the perfect type, volume, and shape implant for creating your desired appearance.

What implant placement and incision location will be best for you? How much scarring can be expected?

Implants can be placed above or below the chest muscle. The best placement will depend on the implant type and the amount of natural breast tissue present. The most popular incision locations include lateral, along the breast crease (Inframammary), and around the nipple (Periareolar). Less popular are incisions placed underneath the arm (Axillary) or around the umbilicus (TUBA). Scarring after a breast augmentation is generally mild, although it will remain visible, so speak with your surgeon about the scars you should expect.

How long will my implants safely last? What happens if I get pregnant in the future? Can I still breast feed? What if my breasts start to droop with age?

Your breast implants can withstand many changes in your body, including future pregnancies. Only in rare cases do implants impede breastfeeding. Modern breast implants are generally long-lasting and most women can expect theirs to safely last 10 years or more. However, pregnancy, breastfeeding, gravity, and the normal aging process can cause breast tissue to sag. A mastopexy (breast lift) can be used to raise drooping breast tissue, restoring a youthful appearance. Swapping out implants for a slightly larger volume can restore fullness in the breasts. Get the details on the expected longevity of your breast augmentation results during your initial consultation.

Once you have your plastic surgeon's full attention, do not freeze up. Write down these five important questions, and any other concerns you may have. Better yet, the Food and Drug Administration has put together a larger list of questions to ask during your breast augmentation consultation. Additionally, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers valuable information on how to do your homework before choosing a certain aesthetic procedure or deciding on a surgeon. Remember, picking the right plastic surgeon is key to a successful breast augmentation procedure.

This blog was contributed to ASPS by Dr. Paul Vitenas.

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