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What is breast augmentation?

When ageing, childbearing, breast feeding or weight loss have taken their toll on the size, shape, fullness and firmness of your breasts, perhaps you’d like to look and feel younger. Maybe you’ve always felt your breasts were too small.


In a breast augmentation, saline or gel implants are inserted beneath each breast, through neat incisions. The result: more fullness, firmness and lift to your breasts.



Before any surgery is performed, your first consultation with your cosmetic surgeon will be a discussion about what your expectations are, and what you would like to achieve. A breast augmentation will change the size, shape and firmness of your breasts, but what is most important to you? This is what your surgeon will want to know. He or she will also examine and measure your breasts, discuss the various implant and incision options, and explain the procedure to you so you know all you need to in order to make an informed decision.

What is the procedure for a breast augmentation?

A breast augmentation involves the insertion of an implant in the breast cavity, either above or below the pectoral muscles. Most breast implants are either saline, silicone or form stable ‘gummy bear’ silicone gel implants. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. Silicone implants, which are filled with silicone gel, have a natural look and feel. The gummy bear gel implants are thicker and firmer than regular silicone gel implants.

There are three different incision options as well, and after discussion with you, your surgeon will recommend the one that is best for you, the type of implant, as well as whether your implants will be inserted above or below the pectoral muscles.

How should I prepare for a breast augmentation?

Before your surgery, you may be asked to stop smoking for 2 – 4 weeks prior to the procedure. Nicotine retards the healing process, and quitting for as long as possible before surgery helps improve blood flow.

You will also have to have a blood test before surgery is performed.

You should stop taking certain medication, like aspirin and some anti-inflammatory drugs. Avoid recreational drugs, and disclose to your surgeon any other medication you’re taking, since you may need to adjust these.

Be sure to arrange for transport to and from the clinic, since you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.

The surgery will be performed in one of our fully equipped operating theatres.

Most breast augmentations are performed under general anaesthetic. It is possible to perform the surgery under a local anesthetic with sedation if the implant is inserted above the muscle. Your surgeon will discuss the options with you.

How do I recover from my breast augmentation?

You will experience the most discomfort in the first week, but your medication will help ease the pain. Thereafter, the discomfort will gradually decrease and you may return to work if it does not involve strenuous activity. Avoid any strenuous activity, like jogging, gym workouts or heavy lifting for the next 3 – 6 weeks. If your implants have been placed under the pectoral muscles, healing will take several weeks longer than if your implants are above the muscle.

What can I expect after my surgery?

The swelling, bruising and discomfort you will feel are normal. After surgery, you will have a gauze dressing over the incision. You may also need a small plastic drain, to drain the fluid for a week or two. You should keep the dressing dry for at least 48 hours and avoid baths, hot tubs or swimming for about 6 weeks. There will be sutures along the incision line, which will dissolve on their own.

When can I return to normal activities?

You should gradually return to normal activities within four to six weeks, easing into your exercise routine or other physical activity. Don’t be in a hurry – take time to get back to normal.

What are the risks involved in breast augmentation surgery?

With breast surgery, like all other surgery, there is a (low) risk of post-operative infection, bleeding and swelling. 

As far as implants are concerned, there aren’t significant differences in the safety of each different type. But each kind has its own pros and cons. There is a risk of rupture, but this does not represent a health risk.

Silicone implants contain platinum, which some feel could be harmful, but no risk has yet been proved. Some implants may change shape over time, and the tissue around the implant may harden.