What is the typical breast augmentation experience like?
- What type of results can I expect?
- How do I select a good plastic surgeon?
- How long does it take to recover?
- When can I get back to normal activities?
- When can I go back to work?
These are all great questions. Here’s how to get started. Also visit the FAQ section to learn the answers to common questions.
How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon
- Is qualified
- Has enough experience
- Is someone you’re comfortable with
But how do you find that person? Your first step should be to ensure the surgeon is certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The certification process confirms that the surgeon:
- Completed an approved educational program
- Met the Board’s certification requirements
- Passed the certification exam
- Follows the rules set out by the Board
This is a process that takes several years—not all plastic surgeons do it. Be aware that there are other certifications that may sound official. However, they’re not equal to an American Board of Plastic Surgery certification.
Overall, be sure that you are happy and at ease with your selection. This probably means you’ll choose a surgeon based on a mix of credentials and comfort level. Your comfort level can be influenced by:
- The surgeon’s experience
- Word-of-mouth from other patients
- Seeing the results that the surgeon has achieved in the past
However, there’s no substitute for meeting with the surgeon in person.
Dear Dr. Brown, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to meet with me and talk with me about breast augmentation. This is truly an emotional decision for me, but as soon as I walked into your office I felt comforted. Your staff treated me with such openness, kindness and respect. I have been to other doctors and kind of felt vaguely embarrassed about being there. It was also very nice to begin the consult with your nurse and somehow this helped me feel more at ease. The best part was meeting you and feeling like I somehow already met you. You should be very proud of your website, because it was a great way for me to get to know you and your practice before an actual consultation. I was looking for a doctor who is highly skilled, and would treat me with respect, and compassion, that I would be seen as a “real” person with feelings and concerns. You took the time to answer all my questions and I never felt rushed. You really surpassed all my expectations and so a few days later I decided to schedule the surgery with you. I am scheduled for surgery and I’m just a big bunch of nerves and emotions. In the days to come I will likely have more questions, and I appreciate you and your staff encouraging me to call or email whenever the need arises. I look forward to my pre-op appointment with you.C.H.
Meeting with the Plastic Surgeon
When choosing the best plastic surgeon, always ensure you’re comfortable with that person. You should feel able to discuss all of your questions and concerns openly. You should feel that the surgeon addresses everything to your satisfaction. The best way to do this is to have an in-person meeting. From a medical standpoint, the surgeon also needs to meet with you to ensure you’re a good candidate for the procedure.
During the initial meeting, the plastic surgeon will conduct an exam. This may include taking photos. He will ask some questions about your medical history. This is to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the surgery. It is also to ensure that there are realistic expectations. You will need to know what the surgery will involve and what it can (and can’t) achieve. Having realistic expectations is the key to being happy with the results.
This will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions. You can explain your preferences in terms of size and the type of implant you’d like. If you’re not sure, the surgeon can explain the options. He can also explain the types of techniques used, the risks, and the recovery.
If you’re ready to proceed at this point, then the logistics can be discussed. The surgeon will explain where and when the surgery will be scheduled. He will give detailed instructions on how to prepare. You will also get consent forms, which you should review carefully. (Be sure to return these signed forms to the office.) You will get a list of medications to avoid before the surgery. You’ll also get prescriptions to fill.
Preparing for Breast Augmentation
There are a lot of things you can do to prepare. These will help the recovery process go smoothly. Here are some ideas:
Breast Augmentation Surgery: The Process
On the day of your surgery, you will see the plastic surgeon again before the procedure. This will be the chance to get answers to any final questions you may have. The surgeon will do the prep for the surgery, and make the operative markings. You’ll also meet with the nurses and anesthesia provider before going to the operating room. Once started, the surgery itself is actually quite fast. It typically takes around 25-40 minutes.
Once you awaken from surgery, your breasts will be wrapped in gauze dressings or a surgical bra. In most cases you’ll be able to go home the same day as long as someone can help to take care of you.
That day and the next will have the most pain to deal with. You can use ice to cool and numb the area. Also use the pain medication prescribed by the surgeon. It is important to understand that having some pain – even after using ice and pain meds – is normal. The actions taken to reduce the pain will help, but it’s normal that a tolerable amount will remain while you recover. You may also have an upset stomach, but this usually goes away within the first full day. You can take anti-nausea medication as well.
There are a few potential problems that can occur. These include:It’s uncommon, but it’s possible that infection can occur and not resolve itself. This results in the need to remove the implant until the infection is gone. The surgery must then be redone. It is also possible that you will notice a change in the sensation of the nipples. This is usually only short-term. Negative side effects cannot be predicted. They can happen even when the surgery is a success. There are also risks of complications if the recovery is not handled well. For example, being too active too soon can raise blood pressure. This can then in turn create bleeding at the surgical site. This is a serious complication that requires another surgery to correct it. If this occurs, it means removing the implant and starting over. It’s very important to follow all instructions during the recovery process. For a more complete list of risks of breast augmentation visit the downloads page to review and print out the consent form.
The breast implants will settle and the body will heal over a few weeks to a few months. How quickly each person recovers varies. There are a lot of ways you can minimize the risks and help ensure healing is not delayed. It is important to follow all patient care instructions given.
Here are a few guidelines: