In the UK, breast augmentation is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure, although women who’ve had a mastectomy as part of cancer treatment may also have breast augmentation (in which case it is classed as reconstructive surgery).
Breast augmentation involves placing implants into the breasts to make them appear larger or a different shape. The procedure is also known as having breast implants, a boob job, or a mammoplasty.
Women may decide to have breast implants for a number of reasons:
This article on breast enlargement (augmentation) is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
What are breast augmentation implants?
Breast implants are made of either natural tissue or man-made materials, such as silicone gel or saline. Natural tissue implants are usually only used during reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, as they have more associated complications and are a more complex procedure.
Implants can be inserted just underneath the breast tissue close to the surface of the skin, or placed underneath the muscle deeper inside the body. Both positions have advantages and disadvantages.
Saline breast implants
Saline breast implants consist of a silicone bag or shell filled with a sterile salt water solution. The salt water is either already inside the implant or can be inserted through a valve after the shell has been fixed in place inside the breast. Saline implants have the advantage that if something goes wrong and the implant ruptures inside the body, the solution can be harmlessly absorbed and excreted by the body. However, they are more prone to ruptures and deflation than silicone implants, and they may not look or feel as realistic, especially if you have small breasts to start with.
Silicone breast implants
Silicone gel breast implants consist of an elastic silicone bag or shell pre-filled with silicone gel. Many studies have been carried out into the safety of silicone gel breast implants, which show that there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of cancer, connective tissue disease, arthritis, or other autoimmune diseases. Silicone gel breast implants have been used successfully for many years and tend to give a more natural look and feel than saline implants.
You may not be suitable for breast augmentation if:
you are under the age of eighteen
you have an infection of any kind
you are pregnant
your are breastfeeding
you have malignant, or pre-malignant, breast cancer that has not been fully treated