Nervous About Breast Augmentation? Dr. Gartside Addresses Common Concerns

If you’re thinking about breast augmentation surgery, you probably have questions and concerns you want to discuss first. This is one of my most important jobs as a plastic surgeon. Over 30+ years in practice, I’ve seen first-hand the critical importance of patient education and the tremendous difference open communication makes in the surgical experience. 

The more you understand about what to expect from a procedure, the better you can prepare — physically and mentally — for what lies ahead. This lays the foundation for a more comfortable, calm and fulfilling plastic surgery journey.

Below I discuss some of my patients’ most common breast augmentation concerns. If you don’t find what you’re looking for or you would like more information, please schedule a consultation and bring all your questions to the appointment.

What Is Anesthesia Like? Is it Safe?

It’s normal to feel nervous about general anesthesia, even if you’ve been “put under” before. Overall, anesthesia is quite safe, and most patients experience no serious issues. An anesthesiologist will be monitoring you the entire time you are “asleep” to ensure everything goes smoothly. You will be completely unconscious and pain-free while you’re under, and you’ll have no memory of the procedure when you wake up. Some of the most common side effects after waking include nausea, slurred speech, fatigue and feeling “out of it.” You’ll be monitored by an experienced team in the recovery room until cleared to leave.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Breast Augmentation?

Breast augmentation recovery may not take as long as you think. I generally recommend devoting one to two full days to rest after breast implant surgery. After that initial period has passed, you can resume light activities. Most patients feel comfortable returning to work after one to two weeks and can resume most activities after two to four weeks. Listen carefully to your body and don’t push yourself. You may need to wait six weeks before resuming strenuous exercise and other demanding activities.

How Painful Is Breast Augmentation?

Some pain and discomfort is unavoidable. Breast augmentation is a serious surgical procedure involving anesthesia, incisions and the placement of a medical device. Your body will need sufficient time to heal and that process won’t always be comfortable. The good news is that most breast augmentation patients only experience mild to moderate discomfort after the surgery. We will discuss strategies for management prior to your surgery and you may contact us at any time during recovery if you’re worried about excessive or abnormal pain.

How Bad Is the Scarring After Breast Augmentation?

Scarring is an inevitable part of any procedure that requires an incision in the skin. Fortunately, the placement of breast augmentation incisions means the scars are invisible in most clothing — even most swimsuits and lingerie. As your surgeon, I will do everything I can to help ensure that your scars are as small as possible, heal well and are inconspicuous. As a patient, you can minimize scarring by following all pre- and post-surgical instructions closely. Remember that your scars may look worse before they look better. It can take up to a year for scars to reach full maturity. 

What If I’m Not Happy With the Result?

If you find that you don’t love your results as much as you hoped you would, there are options. Breast implants are not permanent. They can be changed for a different size, profile or material if your original implants don’t meet your aesthetic goals. The surgery can also be revised if you’re experiencing complications, such as capsular contracture or bottoming out. You can have your implants removed entirely (a procedure called “explantation”) if you decide you no longer want them. There may also be options, like laser treatments, if you’re unhappy with the appearance of your scars.

Am I at Risk for Breast Implant Illness?

Every patient wants to know: Are breast implants safe? There is no such thing as a risk-free procedure, but breast implants are extensively studied medical devices and are considered safe. You may have heard the term “breast implant illness” (BII). BII refers to a cluster of symptoms, possibly related to an autoimmune reaction, that some patients experience after getting implants. BII can occur no matter what type of breast implant is used and is not an officially recognized medical condition. 

In recent years, concerns have grown about a rare cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Although the exact causes of BIA-ALCL are not well understood yet, it appears to be linked to textured breast implants. The risk of developing BIA-ALCL is very low and the survival rate for those who do is high. 

If you are concerned about the long-term effects of breast implants on your health, or are experiencing symptoms, your implants can be removed.

Will Breast Implants Impair My Ability to Breastfeed?

This question comes up often in discussions of breast augmentation risks. Most likely, you will be able to breastfeed after the procedure — however, if you plan to have more children and breastfeeding is very important to you, you may want to postpone the surgery. It’s possible for breast implants to interfere with nursing by compressing milk ducts or changing nipple sensitivity. Certain surgical techniques can minimize these risks significantly. We’ll talk about these options and your risk factors in detail during your initial consultation so you can make informed decisions about how to proceed. 

Do Breast Implants Interfere With Mammograms?

As a breast cancer survivor, this subject is especially important to me. It’s impossible to guarantee that having breast implants will not impact mammograms. Implants placed below the chest muscles (submuscular) are less likely to interfere, but even with this placement, scar tissue surrounding the implants can be problematic and mammograms may damage the implants. Thankfully, there are other methods that can effectively screen for breast cancer even after implants have been placed. Be upfront with your OB/GYN about your breast implants so they can adjust their exam accordingly. 

Let’s continue this conversation. Asking the right questions before breast augmentation prepares you for the procedure. Getting the right answers gives you the confidence you need to move forward with excitement for the new you. To schedule a consultation, contact New Image Plastic Surgery at 703-742-8004.