For a variety of reasons, many women find themselves unhappy with the shape and size of their breasts. Breast enlargement surgery, also referred to as breast augmentation, is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery operation in the world.

Having breast implants inserted can not only give you a larger chest, but it can even out breasts that are two different sizes, as well being able to restore volume which gives a perkier, more youthful look.

Breast enlargement surgery

Breast enlargement surgery is a procedure which takes between one and two hours and is performed under general anaesthetic. First, an incision will be made underneath your breast (although it may be around the nipple or in the armpit), as near to the breast fold as possible so that the scars will be hidden by the natural fold of your breasts. Your surgeon will place the implants either underneath your breast glands or underneath both your glands and your pectoral muscles. During the consultation phase you and your surgeon will work out which placement method best suits your needs; generally those women with a fair amount of pre-existing breast tissue (a B cup or above) will find a sub glandular placement fine, whereas women with less tissue are best served by implants placed under the muscle, as this makes for a more natural look. Some women are able to go home the same day while others remain in hospital overnight, depending on what time of day your operation takes place.

Recovery after surgery

After your return home, you will need at least a week off work to recuperate. For the first week or so, you will not be able to lift your arms above body height, so reaching for food, drinks and anything else you might need may prove tricky. For this reason, it really helps if there is someone around to look after you, or at least to leave any items you might need out for you. Your surgeon will give you some painkillers such as co-codamol and paracetamol to take home, and these should take care of any post-op pain. It is important that you support your chest while it’s healing by wearing a sports bra.

This treatment is offered by our surgical cosmetic clinic, Bristol Plastic Surgery. You can read more about breast enlargement on their website.

Important information

November 2018

“The published literature indicates that breast implants are thought to be safe, in general, but can have rare, serious side effects. I endeavour to provide patients with well balanced, up to date information to ensure those deciding to undergo breast implant surgery feel confident in their choice.

Breast implants are amongst the most used and studied implantable medical devices in the world. Data from the Netherlands and the USA estimates that 1 in 30 women have breast implant/s in place in those countries.

The important question is “Do women with breast implants develop more diseases than women without breast implants?”

Since the introduction of breast implants in the 1970s, side effects potentially associated with them have been studied extensively. The medical literature to date indicates that the commonest problems associated with breast implants are capsular contracture, implant displacement and implant rupture. I receive monthly updates on the most recent publications.

We now know that there is a rare form of lymphatic cancer known as Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which may rarely occur around a breast implant. The risk of this happening in the United Kingdom is currently estimated to be 1:24,000. The disease usually presents with rapid enlargement of one breast due to fluid accumulating over a period of weeks around the implant. It is diagnosed by studying the cells in that fluid. BIA-ALCL is treatable by surgery, and if necessary oncology, especially when diagnosed early. BIA-ALCL seems to be related in some way, that we do not understand at present, to the surface texture of the implant. It has been found in Australia that the more textured the implant the greater the risk BIA-ALCL, however we are not seeing that linkage in the UK at this time. Research continues into this linkage. I have used the same textured Allergan implants since the early 1990s until I became aware of the Australian evidence. I have not seen a case of BIA-ALCL or autoimmune diseases to my knowledge and many patients return to see me for follow up while they have the implants in place.

Auto-immune diseases have been studied extensively in relation to breast implants. There is no conclusive evidence of a causal link with breast implants or with texturing of their surface but it is agreed that more research is needed to assess any potential link with autoimmune diseases. This collection of symptoms is known by several names, such as Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA Syndrome) and Breast Implant illness (BII).

I ask patients, who have undergone implant surgery with me, to return for 2-yearly follow up, for which there is no charge. It is also very important that you give consent for your details to be recorded on the UK National Breast Implant Register. Many countries also have these registers and collect anonymised information about patients with breast implants. This data allows international comparisons of outcomes, within the international legal privacy framework. The International Collaboration of Breast Registry Activities (ICOBRA) is the organization, currently comprising 20 countries, coordinating this work.

To summarise;
It has been concluded by Plastic and Breast Surgeons worldwide that:

  • We believe breast implants to be safe in general but they can sometimes have serious, side effects.
  • Women presenting with side effects must be taken seriously, supported and investigated.
  • BIA-ALCL is rare and, usually, eminently treatable
    Therefore, I advise:
  • When you have questions, particularly if you are concerned about symptoms that may be related to your implants, please come to talk to me.
  • I will do my utmost to ensure you are completely informed about breast implant surgery so that you can make well informed choices.