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Breast enlargement (Breast Augmentation)

Breast enlargement (breast augmentation), technically known as augmentation mammaplasty, is a surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman’s breast for a number or reasons:

  • To enhance the body contour of a woman who feels that her breasts are too small
  • to correct a reduction in breast volume after a pregnancy or
  • to correct a discrepancy between the two breasts in cases of breast asymmetry


General anesthesia

Hospital stay
Day case or 1 night stay

Return to work
7-10 days

Full recovery
4 weeks

Breast Augmentation

Currently breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures requested by women and it has been estimated that over 3 million women worldwide have had breast implants in the last 35 years.

The decision to undergo breast augmentation should be a personal one and not to please someone else. Breast augmentation can enhance your appearance and self-confidence, but it will not necessarily change the way people treat you and will not resolve any of life’s major problems. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations.

What are breast implants?

It is important to understand that the outer shell or envelope of all breast implants is made of silicone. The actual filling substance can vary and it usually consists of silicone gel or saline. Silicone gel implants are currently the commonest type of implants used in Europe due to their superior cosmetic results.

How many types of breast implants are there?

As already mentioned, the vast majority of implants used in Europe (and in Greece) are silicone gel implants. These are available in two types: round and tear-drop shaped (also known as anatomic implants). Both types can produce excellent results and the choice of one over the other depends on your wishes and your specific anatomical configuration.

Round Implant
Anatomical Implant

Are silicone implants safe?

Silicone is a biologically inert substance that has been in use for over 50 years in various applications, both in everyday life and in medicine. Breast implants have been accused of causing various diseases, but extensive research over the last ten years, in hundreds of thousands of women, have failed to prove any connection between silicone breast implants and any disease. (Please read our separate article on breast implant safety).

How is breast augmentation performed?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and takes about 1-1 ½ hours. The most important part of the operation is the development of a “pocket” under the breast where the implant is inserted.

Breast Augmentation

This pocket can be placed either directly under the breast tissue (subglandular placement) or under the pectoral muscle which lies between the breast tissue and the thoracic wall (submuscular placement). The choice of pocket location depends on many factors, is totally individualized, and will be decided during your consultation.

Where are the incisions placed?

Breast Augmentation Incisions
The incisions are very small, about 4-5 cm and are placed either directly under the breast, in the so-called inframammary fold or around the inferior portion of the areola (the darker area around the nipple). The scars normally settle quite well and become less conspicuous with time. However no surgeon can ultimately predict the appearance of any particular scar.

What can I expect after the operation?

As already mentioned the procedure takes approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours and usually requires an overnight stay in hospital.

The sutures used are usually placed internally and are dissolvable. The post-operative pain is usually well tolerated and can be easily managed with regular painkillers.

Your breast will initially appear swollen and slightly higher than expected. Within the following 2-3 months the swelling will gradually subside and your breast will assume its final appearance. The use of a support bra (maternity or sports bra) is recommended for a month.

Changes in nipple and breast sensation (feeling) can occur. Some patients may loose sensation entirely, others report only a slight decrease, and some even report heightened sensation. In the majority of cases where sensation changes occurs, these are only temporary and soon recover. The recovery period can sometimes take up to 18 months to complete. In a small minority of patients, however, permanent loss of sensation may occur.

Should you become pregnant following your operation, then your existing breast tissue will be subjected to the normal hormonal influences of this period and therefore your breast will enlarge and the skin will stretch accordingly. Likewise, once the pregnancy and any associated breast feeding ceases, your own breast tissue will then shrink down. It is impossible to predict to what degree these changes will occur; however, the breast implant volume will remain the same throughout these.

Breast feeding can proceed following a breast augmentation, providing of course that you are able to produce enough milk in the first place. You must understand that regardless of whether you have implants or not, all women cannot breast feed satisfactorily.

When can I resume my normal activities?

You will be up and about on the afternoon of surgery, and you will be able to assume very light duties from the following day. More strenuous activity should be avoided for a week and sexual activity (and handling) should also be reduced for the first couple of weeks.

Upper arm exercises and swimming can begin after 4-6 weeks, at which time full recovery to your previous activities is expected.

How long will the implants last?

There are many quoted figures as to how long ultimately any implant lasts before disintegrating. For the previous generation of implants, an average figure is probably in the order of 20 years. Newer breast implants from the major manufacturers now come with a lifetime warranty against loss of shell integrity resulting in implant rupture, that requires surgical intervention.

There is no chance of the implant exploding or bursting whilst travelling in an aeroplane, swimming, diving etc.

Breast Augmentation

Pictures (c) ASPS, ASAPS, AAFPRS, ADAM, Allergan

Download our Breast Augmentation brochure in PDF format

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