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Breast Augmentation
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Breast Augmentation Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


Breast augmentation is a surgery to increase the size or change the shape of your breasts.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

You may be asked to provide the doctor with a picture of a woman whose breasts you want yours to resemble. You may be asked to look through an album of breast sizes and shapes to help the doctor understand the outcome you desire.

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam, including a careful breast exam
  • Blood tests and urinalysis
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) —a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
  • Mammogram
  • Chest x-ray
  • Take "before" pictures

Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines or herbal supplements up to one week before the procedure, like:

  • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Gingko biloba or other herbal supplements

Leading up to your procedure:

  • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • You may be asked to shower the morning of your procedure. You may be given special antibacterial soap to use.
  • Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
  • Arrange for help at home after returning from the hospital.


Local anesthesia may be used, but general anesthesia is usually used. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep. With local anesthesia, the selected area will be numb.

Description of the Procedure

A cut in the skin will be made either underneath your breast, alongside the areola (pigmented area around the nipple), in your underarm, or in your belly button. An implant or prosthesis will be placed through the incision. The implant can contain silicone gel or can be filled with salt water (saline) after it is placed. It may be placed between the skin/breast tissue and the muscle, underneath the fascia (connective tissue of the muscle), or under the muscle itself. You may or may not have a drainage tube placed around the implant. The incision will be closed with stitches and bandaged. The same procedure may be repeated for the other breast.

Side View of Breast Implantation
Side View of Breast Implantation
© 2008 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1-2 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may have some bruising and tenderness of the breasts for several weeks after surgery. Talk to your doctor about medicine to help manage the pain.

Average Hospital Stay

This procedure may be done in the hospital or surgery center. It may be possible to leave the hospital or surgery center on the same day of the procedure, or you may be asked to stay overnight in the hospital. Speak to your doctor about your options.

Post-procedure Care

  • You will wear a special bra or bandage to put pressure on the breasts. This will help to support your breasts and decrease the chance of bleeding.
  • You may wish to apply ice packs to your breasts to decrease swelling and pain. Wrap ice in a towel; do not apply ice directly to your skin.
  • You may be given a prescription for pain medicine or advised to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Your doctor will advise you regarding return to exercise.
  • Your doctor may advise you about massaging or moving your implants.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.



American Society of Plastic Surgeons


Canadian Society of Plastic Surgery

Women's Health Matters


Breast augmentation. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery website. Available at: . Accessed October 14, 2005.

Sabiston DC Jr. Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 2004.

Sabiston DC Jr. Textbook of Surgery. 15th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 1997.

Spear SL. Surgery of the breast. Principles and art. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2005.



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