Cosmetic breast surgery


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

See also:

Alternative Names

Breast augmentation; Breast implants; Implants - breast; Mammaplasty


Cosmetic breast surgery may be done at an outpatient surgery clinic or in a hospital.

There are many different ways to place breast implants:

Breast implants may be placed either directly behind the breast tissue (subglandular) or behind the outer layer of chest wall muscles (submuscular). The type of implant and implant surgery can affect:

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

Breast lift

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Breast lift

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Breast augmentation is done to increase the size of your breasts.

A breast lift, or mastopexy, is usually done to lift sagging, loose breasts. The size of the areola, the dark pink skin surrounding the nipple, can also be reduced.

Talk with a plastic surgeon if you are considering cosmetic breast surgery. Discuss how you expect to look and feel better. Keep in mind the desired result is improvement, not perfection. Emotional stability is an important factor. Breast surgery can renew your self-confidence and improve your appearance, but the rest is up to you.


Risks for any surgery are:

Risks for any anesthesia are:

Risks for breast surgery are:

The emotional risks of surgery may include feeling that your breasts don't look perfect, or you may be disappointed with people's reactions to your “new” breasts.

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

During the days before your surgery:

On the day of the surgery:

After the Procedure

You may need to stay overnight in the hospital. Some women can go home when their anesthesia wears off and they can walk, drink water, get to the bathroom safely, and have pain they can manage at home.

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.

Sometimes doctors also recommend massaging the breast starting 5 days after surgery to reduce hardening of the capsule that surrounds the implant. Ask your doctor 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, the pain or skin symptoms you had (such as striation) will 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 will fade after this. Your surgeon will try to place the incisions so that your scars are as hidden as possible. Your scars should not be noticeable, even in low-cut clothing, since incisions are usually made on the underside of the breast.


Burns JL, Blackwell SJ. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 73.

Sarwer DB. The psychological aspects of cosmetic breast augmentation. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2007 Dec;120(7 Suppl 1):110S-117S.

Hölmich LR, Lipworth L, McLaughlin JK, Friis S. Breast implant rupture and connective tissue disease: a review of the literature. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2007 Dec;120(7 Suppl 1):62S-69S.

McLaughlin JK, Lipworth L, Fryzek JP, Ye W, Tarone RE, Nyren O. Long-term cancer risk among Swedish women with cosmetic breast implants: an update of a nationwide study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2006 Apr 19;98(8):557-60.

Wiener TC. Relationship of incision choice to capsular contracture. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2008 Mar;32(2):303-6.

Review Date: 2/8/2011
Reviewed By: David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, Palm Beach Gardnes, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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