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Breast augmentation surgery

Breast augmentation; Breast implants; Implants - breast; Mammaplasty - augmentation

Breast augmentation is a procedure to enlarge or change the shape of the breasts.


Breast lift (mastopexy) - series - Incisions
Breast reduction (mammoplasty) - series - Indications
Breast augmentation - series - Normal anatomy


Breast lift

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Breast augmentation is done by placing implants behind breast tissue or under the chest muscle.

An implant is a sac filled with either sterile salt water (saline) or a material called silicone.

The surgery is done at an outpatient surgery clinic or in a hospital.

There are different ways to place breast implants:

The type of implant, size of the implant, and implant surgery can affect:

Your surgeon can help you decide which procedure is best for you.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Breast augmentation is done to increase the size of your breasts. It may also be done to change the shape of your breasts or to correct a defect you are born with (congenital deformity).

Talk with a plastic surgeon if you are considering breast augmentation. Discuss how you expect to look and feel better. Keep in mind the desired result is improvement, not perfection.


Risks for anesthesia and surgery in general are:

Risks for breast surgery are:

It is normal for your body to create a "capsule" made up of scar tissue around your new breast implant. This helps keep the implant in place. Sometimes, this capsule becomes thickened and larger. This may cause a change in the shape of your breast, hardening of breast tissue, or some pain.

Emotional risks for this surgery may include feeling that your breasts do not look perfect. Or, you may be disappointed with people's reactions to your "new" breasts.

There are some risks that may occur months or even years after an implant is in place.

A rare type of lymphoma (cancer of the immune system) has been reported with some types of implants. It is called breast implant-associated lymphoma. Symptoms include a mass or swelling around the implant and breast pain. It can be treated with removal of the implant and the area around the implant.

Some patients have experienced systemic symptoms after receiving implants. This has been called "breast implant illness" although there is not enough evidence yet for it to be a recognized illness. Reported symptoms include:

Women report that symptoms improve after the implant is removed. Despite these rare risks, breast implants are considered safe.

Before the Procedure

Tell your health care provider:

During the days before your surgery:

On the day of the surgery:

After the Procedure

You will likely go home when the anesthesia wears off and you can walk, drink water, and get to the bathroom safely.

After breast augmentation surgery, a bulky gauze dressing will be wrapped around your breasts and chest. Or, you might wear a surgical bra. Drainage tubes may be attached to your breasts. These will be removed within 3 days. Your surgeon will give you instructions about when you may bathe or shower.

The surgeon may also recommend massaging the breasts starting 5 days after surgery. Massaging helps reduce hardening of the capsule that surrounds the implant. Ask your provider first before massaging over your implants.

Outlook (Prognosis)

You are likely to have a very good outcome from breast surgery. You may feel better about your appearance and yourself. Also, any pain or skin symptoms due to the surgery will likely disappear. You may need to wear a special supportive bra for a few months to reshape your breasts.

Scars are permanent and are often more visible in the year after surgery. They may fade after this. Your surgeon will try to place the incisions so that your scars are as hidden as possible.

Related Information

Breast infection
Neck pain
Shoulder pain
Breast pain
Numbness and tingling
Breast cancer
Breast lift
Breast reconstruction - implants
Breast reconstruction - natural tissue
Breast reduction
Surgical wound care - open
Cosmetic breast surgery - discharge


Calobrace MB. Breast augmentation. In: Peter RJ, Neligan PC, eds. Plastic Surgery, Volume 5: Breast. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 4.

Lee M, Ponraja G, McLeod K, Chong S. Breast implant illness: abiofilm hypothesis. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2020;8(4):e2755. PMID: 32440423

Padilla PL, Khoo KH, Ho T, Cole EL, Sirvent RZ, Philips LG. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 21st ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2022:chap 69.

US Food and Drug Administration website. Medical device reports for systemic symptoms in women with breast implants. Current as of August 20, 2020. Accessed May 5, 2021.

US Food and Drug Administration website. Risks and complications of breast implants. Current as of September 28, 2020. Accessed May 5, 2021.


Review Date: 1/10/2021  

Reviewed By: David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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