Logistics of Breast Augmentation
After reading this page, be sure to visit Tips for Speeding your Recovery to learn how to reduce your pain and speed your recovery. You should also watch our video about the basics of breast augmentation.
Your breast augmentation procedure will most likely be performed under general anesthesia, but not always. Some plastic surgeons perform breast augmentation under sedation anesthesia, but this is not usually advised, especially if you want you breast implants placed under the muscle. The reason for this is because such a deep level of sedation is required that it may not be safe. In these situations, general anesthesia is actually safer than sedation.
If your plastic surgeon suggests sedation anesthesia – especially for implants under the muscle – there are some questions to raise. Sometimes doctors will use sedation anesthesia because their office is not approved for general anesthesia. This should be a red flag for you to seek surgery elsewhere. In some of these cases, using sedation anesthesia may involve difficulty achieving adequate comfort for you, and this means you could endure pain (and possibly greater risk) during a breast augmentation procedure.
Location of operation:
Your procedure may be performed in your plastic surgeon’s private operating room, at a nearby hospital or a surgery center. If performed in your plastic surgeon’s office, be sure to ask whether the office is certified and by whom.
Length of surgery:
The actual procedure takes 1-1 1/2 hours. However, the length of time you will be in the operating room will be longer.
Once you are transferred to the operating room, it takes awhile to get you ready for surgery. You will have monitors placed then sedated or put to sleep. You will then be “prepped” which means your skin will be carefully cleansed to rid it of normal skin bacteria. Drapes will be placed around your body and the surgical “field” will be set up. The breast augmentation surgery will then begin.
After your procedure is over, your skin will again be cleaned and a dressing will be applied. Once you’ve awakened and are stable, you will be transported to the recovery room. For these reasons, your procedure could be scheduled for anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours.
Discomfort will vary for each patient. On average discomfort is mild to moderate following implant placement over the muscle. Discomfort is moderate to severe following implant placement under the muscle, but there are a number of things that your surgeon can do to greatly reduce discomfort in most women. Ask your surgeon about this.
Swelling is less if the implants are placed over the muscle and more if the implants are placed under the muscle. It is usually at its peak 3-5 days after surgery and thereafter improves. During the time of peak swelling, you may feel as though your breast milk has “come in.”
If your implants are over the muscle, 75% of the swelling will be gone in 2 weeks and the rest will resolve over the next several weeks. If your implants are placed under the muscle, 75% of the swelling will be gone in 1-4 weeks, and the rest will resolve over a few months. If your surgeon uses marcaine (long-lasting local anesthetic), then your swelling and recovery will be shorter.
Most women do not bruise after breast augmentation. If you do, however, do not worry, because it is not unusual and does not affect your final result. If any exists, it improves within a week or so.
Most surgeons use stitches that absorb and do not require removal. If your surgeon uses stitches that require removal, do not be critical or suspicious, as this is not uncommon. If stitches are to be removed, they will be removed in 5-7 days.
Travel after Surgery:
Dr. Vennemeyer and Dr. Loftus have found that most women can travel safely within a few days of breast augmentation surgery. Because women travel from all over the country to see them for breast augmentation, they have many patients who travel home shortly afterward, and this has not been a problem.