Patients with unrealistic expectations about post-surgery physical outcomes that are not in good health are not a good fit for breast lift surgery. Breasts should be fully developed before breast lift is performed. Legally, saline implants are only allowed in patients over the age of 18, and for silicone implants, the minimum age is 22. Additionally, anyone whose weight is fluctuating would not be an ideal candidate, as breast size is likely to fluctuate as well, making the results of the procedure last a shorter amount of time.
Women who choose to have breast augmentation typically possess one or more of the following characteristics:
- Small breasts
- Asymmetrical breasts (one is bigger or differently sized than the other)
- Have experienced changes in size, shape or firmness due to weight loss, pregnancy or aging
- Have had whole or partial mastectomy (removal of breast tissue) to treat breast cancer and are looking to have reconstruction
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Patients who are under 18 are not candidates for breast augmentation, nor are patients who are in poor health (especially those with any kind of severe illness or infection). Post-bariatric patients who have not reached a stable weight as well should not consider breast lift until they are able to stabilize their weight.
Additionally, the following characteristics make someone a poor candidate for breast augmentation:
- Have an abnormal mammogram or undiagnosed breast condition
- Have breast cancer and have not received treatment
- Pregnant, breastfeeding or recently stopped breastfeeding
- Have had previous radiation therapy
- Does not fully understand what breast augmentation surgery will involve
- Does not have realistic expectations for results from breast augmentation surgery
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Some surgeons require that you have a mammogram before surgery, especially if you are over 40 and have never had a mammogram. This is to make sure that you do not have a preexisting condition that could complicate the procedure. Otherwise, preparations are simple.
Here is an overview (non-exhaustive):
Do not take any blood thinners for at least 10 days prior to surgery (these include Advil, aspirin and Ibuprofen)
Stop smoking at least 4 weeks before surgery — smoking causes blood vessels to constrict, which can interfere with healing
Wear comfortable clothes
- Do not wear nail polish, contact lenses, makeup, or jewelry (or any accessories containing metal)
Recovery after breast augmentation is usually fairly swift — patients typically recover in less than a week. It does not even require an overnight stay at the hospital. Most women are able to return to normal activities in 7 to 10 days and usually need no more than a week off from work. This may be longer when implants are placed under the muscle. Patients should avoid lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for the first week after surgery and aim to keep their elbows near their sides. After 3-6 months, the scar will already be very close to the final result. Many doctors have specific scar massage protocol to speed and ensure proper healing. As with any surgery, there is risk of complications related to infection or reaction to anesthesia. A proper assessment of every patient, along with complete lab work, will help in the prevention of postoperative complications.
Risks of breast augmentation are similar to other surgical procedures and include infection, the risks of being under general anesthesia (risk of cardiac arrest or stroke), bleeding (hematoma), and blood clots. Unfavorable scarring at the site of surgery may occur. As with many surgeries, there is a risk of damaging deeper structures such as fatty tissue, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels, though minimal with a skilled surgeon.
Breast-related surgeries share common risks, which include:
- Breast pain
- Breast asymmetry
- Breast contour and shape irregularities
- Changes in nipple/breast sensation
- Fluid accumulation
- Potential loss of skin or tissue where incisions meet
- Potential loss of nipple and areola (partial or total)
- Skin discoloration, hyperpigmentation, swelling and bruising
- Diminished ability to breastfeed
- Possibility of revisional surgery
There also risks specific to breast augmentation which include:
- Asymmetry of implants
- Implant rupture
- Displacement of implant
- Implant deflation (saline)
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