Breast Augmentation

Quick Facts About Breast Augmentation

Average Treatment Cost: $3,500-$8,000
Procedure Time: 1-2 hrs
In/Outpatient: Outpatient
Anesthesia: General or local with intravenous sedation
Recovery Time: 10 days; strenuous activity in 3-4 weeks
Duration of Results: Long-lasting
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What you should know

What Is Breast Augmentation

Many women are born with breasts that are out of proportion with their bodies.  Breasts can be too large or too small, which can have a serious effect on a woman’s self-image. 

Augmentation mammoplasty, or breast enhancement, is accomplished by surgically inserting an implant behind each breast which changes the size, form and feel of the breasts.

Breast enhancement is usually done on an outpatient basis either under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. It can take place in an office-based surgical suite, which is a free-standing ambulatory or a hospital surgical facility. An overnight hospital stay is occasionally recommended.

In the U.S., breast reduction surgery and breast enhancement procedures are the most commonly performed plastic surgeries. You will want to educate yourself about the different types of breast implants, incision types, sizes and placement options before undergoing a breast enhancement procedure.    

Preparing for Breast Augmentation

Deciding whether to have a boob job is not a one-step process.

First, you will want to schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon you can trust, who is located close to where you wish to have your surgery.  You can find a NewBeauty approved, board-certified plastic surgeon using our search tool, which is designed to make it easier for you to find the right doctor who can perform your surgery.

Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for breast enhancement, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets and certain medications. If you develop a cold or an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, your surgery may have to be postponed. Though rare, your doctor may recommend that you have blood drawn ahead of time in case it is needed during surgery.  Also, while you are making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure and, if needed, to help you at home for a day or two.

During your initial consultation, your doctor will help you decide on the type of breast enhancement surgery best suits your individual needs and will answer any questions you may have about the procedure.

Types of Implants

Choosing the Best Implants for You

Breast implants come in a variety of sizes, shapes and profiles to achieve a natural-looking physique. Other important features include the texture of the implant shell and the substance that fills the shell. Implants have to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are filled with saline or silicone, which impact the look and feel of a breast implant and affect the overall appearance of your breasts.

Surgical breast enhancement is the only guaranteed way to increase the size of your chest for the long term. With the recent FDA ruling that made silicone implants an option for all women over the age of 22, the choices have expanded. In addition to implant selection, there are other variables that you will want to discuss with your board-certified plastic surgeon.  

Always keep in mind that your natural size, shape and body proportion may influence some of these factors when choosing your implants. 

Saline Implants

These implants rely on saline or salt water, as the filler and are filled at the time of surgery, which produces a smaller incision.

Advantage: If the implant develops a defect and leaks, the filler is absorbed. If the tissue is thick enough, saline implants can feel soft and look natural.

Disadvantage: In some, they tend to not feel as natural, and they may ripple more.

Silicone Implants – The Natural Look

Prefilled silicone implants contain a cohesive gel with a strong bond that prevents the silicone from migrating through the body if the implant happens to leak or rupture.

Advantage: Feel more natural, less rippling.

Disadvantage: A longer incision needs to be made.

Incision Placement

When it comes to breast enhancement surgery, there are both incision and placement options that you can choose from, regardless of the shape or type of implant you settle on. Despite the type of incision you and your doctor decide is right, it should be made small enough so that once you are completely healed, ideally only a very faint scar exists. Scarring varies significantly from patient to patient and depends on many factors including genetics.

In the crease of the breast – Inframammary

  • The Upside: Most plastic surgeons agree that an incision placed in the crease of the breast is the best method for providing symmetry. Also, if you ever need revision surgery in the future, your doctor can use your existing scar instead of having to make a new one.
  • The Downside: Your scar may be more visible
  • What the Expert Says: “This is the most commonly used incision because it’s the easiest way to get the implant placed,” says Dr. Dennis Hammond.

Around the nipple – Periareolar

  • The Upside: Many surgeons and patients prefer this incision since it heals the best and the incisions are small. And once you are all healed, your scar should be virtually undetectable.
  • The Downside: Some women, especially those with a very small areola, may not be appropriate candidates for this incision. There may also be scarring of some of the breast ducts, which could interfere with breastfeeding, although most patients can adequately breastfeed after undergoing surgery with this incision.
  • What the Expert Says: “I have always felt that this incision provides the highest percentage of ‘good’ scars because there is an opportunity for the scar to blend with the color of the areola. Even if you heal poorly, this part of the body is not typically exposed,” says Bakersfield, CA, plastic surgeon Edmund Fisher, MD.

 Through the armpit – Axillary

  • The Upside: This option is best if you’re looking to be virtually scar-free on and around the breast.
  • The Downside: Placing an implant through the armpit can be difficult since it’s hard to squeeze it in. If revision surgery is needed, your surgeon will need to make a secondary incision in order to remove or replace your implant.
  • What the Expert Says: “It’s essential that an endoscope is used so that the placement of the implant is exactly within the pocket, otherwise you run the risk of the implant sitting too high,” says New York plastic surgeon Tracy Pfeifer, MD.

Who it is for

Generally, if you feel you want to permanently improve breast shape and/or size, you will want to consider breast enhancement as a solution. Longer lasting than push-up bras, breast enhancement relies upon either silicone or saline implants placed under, in between or over the muscle to add size, shape, proportion and cleavage. “When it comes to choosing between implants and wearing a push-up bra, it’s all about quality of life and the naturalness of the result,” says Dallas plastic surgeon William Adams, MD. “Push-up bras definitely work, but most women want to have a fuller or larger look all the time—with or without clothes. And the only things that can produce those results are breast implants.” 

Who it is not for

For the most natural look, La Jolla, CA, plastic surgeon Reza Sadrian, MD, says that breast diameter, as well as the profile, shape and positioning of the implants, needs to be taken into consideration. “Implants should fit the body appropriately. If they are too big for your body’s natural diameter, the implant will stick out at the sides, be too high up on the chest and just look too large overall,” he says.

What to Expect

You will likely be back to work within a week, give or take a few days, depending on the extent and type of procedure and physical activity required at your job. Scars begin to fade within four to six weeks; topical steroid cream or silicone gel can promote healing and reduce the chance of developing raised, red or irregular scars. While most patients heal well, scarring varies from patient to patient and is not totally predictable. Breast shape will start to settle within six weeks, but it may take six months to a year for the final results and scars to fully refine.

Start walking around and doing light activity as soon as possible, but avoid pushing, pulling, lifting, twisting or strenuous exercise until your plastic surgeon gives you the go-ahead. 

Healing & Recovery

You'll wake up after your breast surgery wearing a support bra that was either purchased before surgery or supplied by your plastic surgeon. You may have small, thin tubes placed in your incisions to drain any excess fluid, or one that is attached to a pain pump. You'll be stiff and sore. “Most patients correlate the soreness and heaviness to what it feels like when your milk comes in after having a baby,” says Concord, CA, plastic surgeon Eric Mariotti, MD. Alert your doctors immediately, however, if you experience severe pain.

  • Breast tenderness
  • Heightened or lack of nipple sensation
  • Swelling and minor bruising
  • Swelling and minor bruising
  • Redness, discomfort or itching at the incision sites


To keep these side effects to a minimum, try to sleep on your back in a more upright position for the first few days following surgery. “I recommend that patients take it easy for at least the first week,” says Grand Rapids, MI, plastic surgeon Dennis Hammond, MD.

During your breast recovery, follow all instructions for proper breast support, including sleeping in your support bra if instructed. A cotton bra that closes in the front may be the most comfortable. Do not wear underwire until your plastic surgeon gives you the green light. Long-term support is essential for the well-being and longevity of your breasts.

In most cases, breast implants should not affect the ability to breastfeed or produce milk. Even if you experience difficulty breastfeeding, it may not necessarily be related to your breast augmentation—some studies report that 10 to 15 percent of women who have never had breast surgery cannot adequately breastfeed. Be sure to tell your doctor if you're planning to breastfeed in the future. Future pregnancy, weight fluctuations and aging can influence the shape and condition of your breasts. Always monitor breast health as instructed by your primary care physician and your plastic surgeon. This includes regular breast self-exams and may include special mammography considerations.

Other Considerations 

Breast implants can also become displaced, leak or rupture. If they are not replaced, the result can be disfiguring—like a deflated balloon. In rare instances, implants may become infected and must be removed or replaced.  As with all surgical procedures, breast augmentation patients must also consider any anesthesia-related risks before undergoing this procedure.