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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Breast Augmentation

Contact: (0191) 282 0194 - Plastic Surgery Breast Nurse

IntroductionShow [+]Hide [-]

In breast augmentation surgery breasts are made larger by placing an implant behind the breast tissue or behind the muscle on which the breast lies.
The breast implant is made of an outer layer of silicone. It is usually filled with silicone gel or saline (salt water). Some implants are round and others are shaped more like a natural breast. The type used varies according to individual need. Your surgeon will discuss these options with you and advise on which type is likely to give you the best result.

Before your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

General assessment and information giving usually begins in the Nurse-led outpatient clinic. For all procedures, assessment and information giving will take place in the outpatient clinic appointment with your consultant.

After this you will be requested to attend a "pre-assessment" clinic for a full check of your general health and home circumstances. Any further questions about the operation or the anaesthetic can be answered at this appointment. For urgent procedures, you may be given a date for surgery by your consultant. For non-urgent procedures, you will be informed of your date of surgery by the Waiting List office in due course.

During your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

The operation is carried out under a general anaesthetic. The implants are usually inserted through incisions in the skin folds underneath the breasts. Alternatively, the incisions may be made underneath the nipples or in the armpit.

The operation takes approximately one to two hours to perform.

It is likely that you will have a “drain” or plastic tube inserted into each breast wound. This drains away any further oozing of blood and prevents large bruises or blood clots building up underneath the wound. It will be removed on the ward once the amount of fluid being drained is minimal.

After your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

Most patients stay in hospital for one to three days after the operation until the drains are removed.

An appointment will be made for you to come to a plastic surgery dressing clinic to have the stitches trimmed or removed, approximately 10 days after surgery. You may also need to attend this clinic for further dressings. Your wounds should be kept covered by dressings until the stitches are trimmed or removed.

Another appointment, for review by a doctor in an outpatient clinic, will be made within three months of surgery.

You will be offered painkillers both in hospital and to take home.

You are usually advised to wear a sports bra for three weeks following the surgery. This will help to support your implants in a good position during healing. You should avoid wearing an underwired bra until your wounds have healed because the wire may cause excessive pressure on the wound. After they have healed, you should wear any well fitting bra for at least three months. 

Return to work will depend on occupation. Light duties can usually be restarted within two to three weeks.

After three to four weeks, you may start light exercise. Heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for a minimum of six weeks. Vigorous arm exercises should be avoided for 12 weeks.

Driving should be avoided until your wounds have healed and you can comfortably wear a safety belt. This may take several weeks.

Any specific instructions for you will be explained before you are discharged from hospital.

Possible complications and risks Show [+]Hide [-]

Bleeding:  Bleeding may occur after surgery (usually within 12 hours of the operation). A very small amount of bleeding is not uncommon but anything more than this may mean that you need another short operation to stop the bleeding. 
Infection: You will be given antibiotics at the time of surgery as a precaution against infection. If the wound becomes infected you may require a further course of antibiotics.

Any infections that occur in the tissue around the implant can usually be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, it is necessary to remove the implant until the infection has cleared. It will then be replaced with a new implant.

Asymmetry (unequal size and shape): You will have discussed with your surgeon what breast size you would ideally like to be, although the final cup size cannot be guaranteed. After breast augmentation, the size and shape of the breasts will adjust with time. It is not always possible to create a cleavage.

The weight of the implant may influence the age related changes that normally take place in breasts i.e. stretching of the skin causing the breast tissue to lie lower on the chest wall.

Most women have some degree of asymmetry (inequality in breast shape and size). Breast augmentation may occasionally exaggerate this difference.

A breast that has an underlying implant may not feel like a normal breast and some women may be aware of the implant within the breast.

Nipple sensitivity may be affected. Nipples can become more or less sensitive after breast augmentation.

Scars:  You will be left with scars at the site of incision. All scars are red and raised initially and begin to settle over a 12-month period. Occasionally, the scars can become red and raised permanently and can itch. These are known as hypertrophic, or keloid, scars and are difficult to treat. The scars may also stretch. Once the wounds have healed, massage of the scars using a non-perfumed moisturising cream for 10 minutes, four times a day, will help the scars to fade.

If you require any further information or advice, please contact any of the following:

Plastic Surgery Breast Nurse RVI
(Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm)
Telephone:  (0191) 282 0194

Sister or Nurse in Charge - Plastic Surgery Outpatient Department RVI
(Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm)
Telephone:  (0191) 282 4228

Sister or Nurse in Charge – Ward 47 RVI
(at any time)
Telephone:  (0191) 282 5647

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