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Your Guide to Breast Implant Surgery

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Are You a Good Candidate for Breast Augmentation?

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Breast augmentation, also called breast enlargement or breast augmentation mammaplasty, is surgery to enhance the size and shape of the breasts. Doctors place silicone- or saline-filled breast implants in the breasts to enhance breast size or shape.

Most women seek breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons. Your doctor may also recommend the procedure to reconstruct your breast following breast surgery. This is called breast reconstruction. 

Are There Other Treatment Options?

There are several types of breast augmentation procedures and implants. They are all invasive procedures and require an incision. Fat transfer breast augmentation is an alternative to breast implants. It involves removing fat from one area of the body with liposuction, and putting it in the breast. 


Herbal products marketed for their breast enhancing abilities are available. However, there is no reliable evidence that these products work or are safe.

Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on breast augmentation.

When to Consider Breast Augmentation

You may want to consider breast augmentation if you want larger or more shapely breasts.

Your doctor may recommend breast augmentation surgery for you if:

  • One breast varies in size or shape from the other one.
  • One or both breasts did not develop normally.
  • You are dissatisfied with the size, shape or firmness of your breasts after weight loss, pregnancy, or as a result of aging.
  • Your breasts are fully developed.
  • Your general health is good. 
  • You have realistic expectations of improvement and not perfection.

Who Is NOT a Good Candidate for Breast Augmentation?

You may not be a good candidate if:

  • You are pregnant, breast feeding, or recently stopped breast feeding.
  • You have an abnormal mammogram or an undiagnosed breast condition.
  • You have existing breast cancer and have not yet received treatment.
  • You have a severe illness or infection. 

If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your doctor about whether breast augmentation is right for you.

What to Expect

A plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon will perform your breast augmentation in a hospital or outpatient surgical center. You may have general or regional anesthesia. You should be able to go home the day of the procedure.

Your doctor will make an incision in your underarm, under your breast, or in your areola. Incision location varies based on the type of implant being used, the degree of enlargement desired, your anatomy, and your or your doctor’s preference. 

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. You will need to wear a surgical support bra for several weeks after your surgery. It helps minimize swelling and supports your breasts while they are healing. You may also need help with household, work, and other daily activities. Full recovery takes a couple of weeks to a month.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 25
View All Your Guide to Breast Implant Surgery Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Breast Augmentation. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  2. Cosmetic Breast Implants Do Not Interfere With Detecting Breast Cancer. University of Texas MD Anderson Caner Center.
  3. Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  4. Fugh-Berman A. "Bust enhancing" herbal products. Obstet Gynecol. 2003;101(6):1345-9.
  5. Natrelle Saline-Filled Breast Implants. Allergan.
  6. Breast Augmentation Procedure Steps. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.