A breast augmentation (sometimes known as a mammoplasty or breast implant surgery) is a surgical procedure intended to alter the size, shape and volume of the breasts. This is done using either (either saline, silicone or composite implants filled with an alternative material such as polypropylene.
Patients generally undergo this type of surgery to reduce, enlarge or even the appearance of both breasts for cosmetic purposes. This is generally paid for privately, although in some cases if surgery is deemed medically necessary (a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, for example), it may be covered by medical insurance.
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While the prospect of a cheap deal might seem appealing, putting yourself in the hands of an under qualified surgeon poses the risk of dissatisfaction with your appearance. It also carries significant health risks, which is why finding a qualified and fully trained breast augmentation surgeon to carry out the procedure is essential.
Breast augmentations are a major surgery, and there are a number of important factors to consider before making an appointment. Here are some things you can ask a prospective surgeon about before deciding to work with them:
- Board certification from a recognized professional body.
- References and recommendations from healthcare professionals or people you know and trust (online review ratings can be misleading, so try to avoid these).
- Proof of qualifications and experience in the field.
- Proof of hospital operating privileges: the right to use facilities and equipment at the surgical center or hospital they are in.
- Evidence that they work with a certified anesthesiologist or anesthetist.
- Proof of compliance with medical ethical codes.
- Up-to-date health and safety certification.
- Evidence that the premises is an accredited ambulatory facility with access to emergency equipment if necessary.
A responsible practitioner should not rush or pressure you into getting the surgery, but should take the time to offer a consultation to discuss the goals you have for surgery including appearance and type of implant. They should also detail the possible health risks.
While the likelihood of some of these risks is minimal, it is important to understand them to minimize the need for any further corrective procedures and to keep you as safe as possible. These may include:
- Skin rashes (this can be due to an allergy to leaked silicone particles)
- Capsular contracture, where scar tissue distorts the shape of the breast implant.
- Breast implant illness (BII), a systemic condition with a number of symptoms including dry eyes, cognitive issues such as difficulty focussing, thinking or remembering, joint pain and fatigue.
- Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a cancer affecting the immune system.
While it is unclear as to how some of these symptoms are related to breast augmentation, your surgeon should discuss ways to minimize health risks as much as possible prior to the surgery, in addition to aftercare; for example, ensuring there is a trusted person available to drive you home and stay with you overnight following surgery.
As part of the consultation it is important for the surgeon to discuss any emotional and mental health implications. A breast augmentation will not “fix” issues related to poor body image or low self-esteem, but it can make a significant change to your personal appearance and offer a confidence-boost where needed.