What You Need To Know About The Four Most Common Breast Surgeries

Close-up view of a rack of colorful bras.

Image: Melissa Maples via Flickr

Whether for enhancement, reconstruction, or personal comfort, breast surgery can help women (and even some men) look and feel better by altering the shape and size of their breasts. Breast augmentation can have very positive long-term effects on a person’s self-image and confidence.
Thinking about undergoing a breast procedure? As a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York city, I have performed many breast augmentations and other surgeries throughout my career. Here are the four most common breast surgeries and what you need to know about each one.

Types of Breast Surgeries

Breast Implants

Breast implant surgery is the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the US and has one of the highest satisfaction rates. That’s because breast implants can be easily tailored to suit your body and personal preferences.
What you need to know:

  • Breast implants come in a wide array of shapes and sizes along with choices like smooth or textured, silicone or saline.
  • You can still breastfeed after breast implant surgery.
  • Scars from breast implants will fade and can be hidden in your body’s natural creases.
  • Breast implants do not last a lifetime. Good quality breast implants should last around 10 years, while some can last much longer. Extended warranties cover surgical costs to replace your implants.
  • You can continue to have mammograms, just be sure to tell the technician that you have implants.
  • Breast implants typically do not require a hospital stay.
  • Recovery time is several weeks to resume normal activity.

Breast Lifts

 Breast lift surgery can help restore sagging breasts to a more youthful appearance. You might be a candidate for a breast lift if your breasts have lost firmness, if your nipples point downward, or if one or both of your breasts lack substance and firmness.
What you need to know:

  • Breast lifts last longer on smaller breasts, but can be performed on breasts of any size.
  • Breast lifts do not affect breastfeeding.
  • There are a handful of breast lift techniques that I or your surgeon can discuss with you.
  • A breast lift will not change your bra size.
  • Breast lift surgery is performed under general anesthesia and lasts about two hours.
  • Breast lift scars should fade over time and will hidden by most clothing.
  • Recovery time is measured in days.

Breast Reduction

 For many women, the back pain and other problems associated with very large breasts negatively affect their quality of life.  If this is the case for you a breast reduction can help.
What you need to know:

  • Unlike some breast procedures, health insurance will often cover the costs of breast reduction surgery.
  • Breast reduction can help reshape the breast, not just reduce size.
  • While non-surgical breast reduction with liposuction alone can reduce volume, it is not the best option in my opinion as it can result in more sagging.
  • You can still breastfeed as long as the nipple is not removed. I have never removed a woman’s nipple during breast reduction surgery.
  • Breast reduction surgery is performed under general anesthesia, takes about three hours and does not require hospitalization.
  • Your breasts will initially be quite painful, but in 7-10 days you should be back to your normal life.

Breast Reconstruction

 Breast reconstruction surgery rebuilds a breast after a mastectomy and restores both the breast’s shape and appearance. The result will leave you with naturally shaped breasts and nipples, which can help restore your self-confidence after facing cancer and a mastectomy.
What you need to know:

  • Breast reconstruction surgery includes rebuilding both the breast mound and the nipple-areola complex to look as natural as possible.
  • The surgery is often performed at the same time as the mammogram.
  • Tattoos done during surgery will help achieve a natural nippled and areola color.
  • Breast reconstruction surgery is covered by health insurance.
  • The surgery will be performed under general anesthesia and require a hospital stay of 2-5 days, on average.
  • Recovery will depend entirely upon the individual circumstances. Your surgeon will be able to give you a good idea of what to expect.

You should always feel free to ask any questions. A personal consultation is the best way to learn about the procedures and techniques that will benefit your body.
To see how effective breast procedures can be, view my before and after photos of actual patients I have operated on.

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