10 Things You Should Know Before You Go Under the Knife
Do you find yourself in the ultra-padded bra section of Victoria’s Secret silently lamenting the fact that your “secret” is you have tiny A-cups? Sure, you need to love yourself and your body just as you are, but guess what? Sometimes loving yourself means doing something about what torments you. And if you’re tired of having barely-there boobs, or childrearing took a devastating (and sadly, deflating) toll on your once prized perky ones, then maybe it’s time to visit a breast augmentation specialist.
So what do you need to know?
We’ve compiled a list to help you. Here goes…
1. You’re going to have to get very personal with your doctor.
You may feel a bit, er, exposed, baring your chest to a complete stranger, but it’s a necessary evil in the quest for a surgically enhanced bosom. Now is the time to express exactly what it is you abhor about your breasts. The more you can share, the better your physician will be able to help you decide the best course of action to take. Keep in mind if you are an A-cup wanting to go to Dolly Parton triple Ds, then you might get booted out of the doctor’s office, which brings us to the next thing you should know.
2. You might not be a good candidate for breast augmentation surgery.
If you have unrealistic expectations, are a heavy smoker, are obese, have lost a dramatic amount of weight, or have a strong family history of breast cancer, you may not be considered a good candidate for breast augmentation surgery. On the flip side, good candidates are athletic types with minimal body fat and naturally small breasts or a mom who has breastfed one or more babies and has “deflated” breasts, according to Wendy Lewis, author and founder of BeautyintheBag.com.
3. You might need more than a boob job to achieve desired results.
If your nipples point in a southerly direction, implants alone might not do the trick. “In some cases, a lift to remove excess skin, reposition the nipples, and tighten up the skin envelope for a better shape and perkier breasts may be needed,” Lewis said. This is a much more extensive procedure with additional incisions and costs and may require more downtime.
4. When it comes to implants, you have options.
There are three basic types of breast implants: saline, silicone, and shaped silicone. According to Michael Rose, MD, Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, “Saline is the least expensive option, which can be done with the smallest incision. Traditional silicone implants require a slightly larger incision, but result in a softer feel.” The most recent option is the form-stable shaped silicone implant, also known as the ‘gummy bear’ implant, which are made with a thicker gel and are less likely to leak. “These implants don’t just fill the breast envelope, but produce a distinctive breast shape that is aesthetically pleasing.”
5. You will need to take a few days off from work and other activities.
Arthur W. Perry, MD, FACS (DrPerrys.com), Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University with cosmetic practices in New York and New Jersey, said if your implants were placed in front of the muscle, you should be able to go back to work in about five days, but it’s a week if it’s behind the muscle. You may feel you can go back to work immediately, but “sometimes it simply is smarter to ‘take it easy’ and not try to prove something by returning to work prematurely.”
6. You will have to undergo a breast revision surgery at some point.
As with all manufactured products, nothing lasts forever. And neither do breast implants. Some may last 20+ years without incident while others only last six or seven. “If there is a growing concern that a change in contour, shape, or size has been noticed; or a new, strange pain or sensation has developed or something ‘just doesn’t feel right’ … an evaluation at the plastic surgeon’s office should be the very next step,” said board-certified Philadelphia plastic surgeon Lyle Back, MD.
7. …and it could cost more than your original procedure.
A breast revision could be a simple exchange of implants or it could involve more complex procedures, such as removing the implants and possible scar tissue, changing from above the muscle to under the muscle, and/or including a lift, all of which drives up the cost, explained Mark H. Schwartz, MD, FACS, Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
8. You can use your own fat to increase your breast size.
Yes, it’s true. A doctor can harvest fat from your body (provided you have an “adequate donor site”) and inject that fat deep into the breast tissue. “It is a great way to increase in breast size without having to place a foreign body,” said Dr. Daniel Maman, a board-certified plastic surgeon and Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, “and it feels 100 percent natural.” This procedure is best suited for patients seeking a subtle or single cup size increase who already have a nice breast shape.
9. You can still get screened for breast cancer.
“Mammography is still the gold standard for annual breast health screening, starting at age 40. It is important, however, that a woman let her technologist know if she has implants, as additional images are required to better visualize the breast tissue and implant integrity,” said Cathy Wilson, Vice President of Operations for Solis Mammography. Dr. Perry suggests getting an MRI after three years and then every other year to screen for breast cancer and/or silicone leakage.
10. There is a chance you might not like your breast implants.
Give yourself 3 to 6 months to let your implants settle into their new home. If you decide you really don’t like them, you can certainly have them removed or redone, which involves more cost, more down-time, and more of a chance for complications. The bottom line? Don’t rush your quest for a better bosom, and more importantly, choose wisely.
How To Choose the Best Doctor
1. Do not see anyone claiming to be a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon without reviewing their background. Plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Cosmetic surgeons may be board-certified with a background in multiple areas of specialization, so don’t hesitate to ask questions about your physician’s credentials and training to confirm they have experience with breast augmentation. You may also investigate the accreditation of the surgery facility.
2. Determine if they are a true expert in their field. If someone is claiming superior expertise in breast augmentation, then find out how many procedures they perform each year. Also, look to see if the physician has published articles or book chapters in that area that demonstrate their added expertise.
3. Look at the before and after pictures. “I’m always very hesitant when I visit a website that does not show any results pictures,” said John Zannis, MD, a New Bern, North Carolina board-certified plastic surgeon said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have any good results, but they may not have a lot of results to show.”
On the Web
American Board of Plastic Surgery website: ABPlasticSurgery.org
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery: Surgery.org
American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery: CosmeticSurgery.org
Another informational site: ItsMyTurn.com
By LaRue V. Gillespie