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Breast Augmentation: Medical Terms to Know

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Cosmetic medical procedures have gained popularity in recent years, and among them, breast augmentation stands out as a widely sought-after surgery. This procedure involves enhancing the size and shape of the breasts through implants or fat transfer techniques. Although seemingly straightforward, many medical terms linked to this surgery can confuse those considering it.

This article explores essential medical terminology linked to breast augmentation that you should familiarize yourself with before deciding. We will also discuss what each term means and its relevance to the breast augmentation process. Additionally, we will look at common misconceptions related to these terms.

What is a Breast Augmentation in Medical Terms

What is a breast augmentation in medical terms

Breast augmentation traces its origins back to the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that modern breast implants emerged. Initially, surgeons experimented with materials like paraffin, sponges, and glass balls, often resulting in adverse outcomes. The turning point came with the creation of the silicone implant by plastic surgeons Frank Gerow and Thomas Cronin, revolutionizing cosmetic surgery.

This innovation offered a safer and more aesthetically pleasing choice for women seeking to enhance breast size or restore volume lost after weight loss or pregnancy. Significant weight loss, for instance, can lead to reduced breast size and fullness, causing dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. Breast augmentation addresses this concern by restoring volume and enhancing breast shape. Breast augmentation is one of the most sought-after cosmetic procedures worldwide, with millions performed annually.

Medical Terms Associated with Breast Augmentation

Medical terms associated with breast augmentation

Getting familiar with medical terms linked to breast surgery can help you understand what the breast enhancement procedure entails, making it easier to discuss your goals and expectations with your surgeon. Here are some terms you should be familiar with:


Implants are a core aspect of breast augmentation and refer to the foreign bodies inserted into the breasts to enhance their size and shape. These implants are typically made of silicone or saline material and come in various sizes, shapes, and textures. When you have a consultation with a plastic surgeon, you must decide which type of implant is best for you based on your desired outcome.

For example, if you are looking for a more natural feel, silicone breast implants may be the better choice as they mimic the texture of natural breast tissue. On the other hand, if you prefer a firmer and rounder look, saline implants may be the way to go. Your surgeon will also discuss breast implant surgery implant placement options – either above or below the chest muscle, and their pros and cons, helping you make an informed decision.

Augmentation Mammoplasty

Augmentation mammoplasty is another medical term used in breast augmentation surgeries. This procedure involves making incisions in the breasts and placing implants to enhance their size and shape. Various techniques for performing this surgery include the inframammary, periareolar, transaxillary, and transumbilical methods. These terms refer to the location of the incisions, and each has its benefits and considerations.

For example, the inframammary approach involves making an incision in the fold under the breast, allowing for precise implant placement and minimal scarring. On the other hand, the transumbilical method involves creating a small incision near the belly button and using an endoscope to guide the implant into place. This technique results in no scarring on the breast but has limitations in terms of the size and type of implant that can be used.

Augmentation Ptosis

Augmentation ptosis refers to the sagging or drooping of the breasts after breast augmentation surgery. This can occur due to various factors, including the weight and size of the implants, tissue elasticity, and aging. It is a common misconception that getting plastic surgery will automatically result in lifted and perky breasts. In reality, some patients may experience augmentation ptosis if their breast tissue and skin are not able to support the added weight of the implants.

To avoid this, your surgeon may recommend saline breast implants in combination with breast augmentation to achieve your desired results. For example, if you have naturally droopy breasts and opt for larger implants, there is a higher chance of developing augmentation ptosis. Your surgeon may then suggest including a breast lift in your surgery to ensure a more aesthetically pleasing outcome.

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is a possible complication that can occur after reconstructive breast surgery. It refers to the hardening of scar tissue around the implant, leading to discomfort and changes in breast shape and appearance. This condition occurs when the body’s immune system responds to foreign material by forming a scar tissue capsule.

In some cases, this capsule can tighten and squeeze the implant, causing it to become misshapen and leading to discomfort or pain. If left untreated, capsular contracture can also affect the breast’s natural movement. While there is no definitive cause for this condition, factors such as breast implant illness, hematoma (collection of blood), and trauma to the surgical site may increase the risk of developing capsular contracture.

Bottoming Out

Bottoming out is a potential complication that can occur after breast augmentation surgery, mainly if larger implants are used or when they are placed above the chest muscle. It refers to the downward displacement of the implant, causing it to sit too low on the chest wall. This condition can give the appearance of droopy breasts or a double bubble effect (where the implant falls below the natural breast crease).

Bottoming out happens when the weight and size of the implant cause the skin and tissue to stretch, resulting in a lack of support. To correct this, your surgeon may recommend a revision surgery to reposition the implant higher on the chest wall or use additional support material, such as acellular dermal matrix (ADM). Following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions and attending regular check-ups are essential to keep an eye out for any potential complications.


Rippling is another possible complication that can occur after breast augmentation surgery. It refers to the visible wrinkling or rippling of the skin around the implant, giving the breasts an unnatural appearance and feel. This condition typically occurs when there is a lack of tissue coverage over the implant.

Factors such as low body fat, thin skin, and the placement of silicone implants above the pectoral muscle may increase the risk of rippling. To minimize this, your surgeon may suggest placing the implants below the chest muscle or using a larger implant size to create more tissue coverage. In some cases, fat grafting (using your body’s fat) can also help smooth out any visible rippling.


A seroma is a collection of fluid that can develop around the surgical site after breast augmentation surgery. This condition occurs when excessive fluid, such as blood or lymphatic fluid, builds up. While it is a common complication, it can lead to discomfort and increase the risk of infection if left untreated.

Your surgeon will monitor for any signs of a seroma and may recommend draining the fluid through a needle or performing a minor surgery to remove it. To help prevent this complication, following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions and avoiding strenuous activities that may pressure the surgical site is essential.

Cohesive Silicone Gel Implants

Cohesive silicone gel implants, also known as “gummy bear” implants, are a type of breast implant containing a semi-solid silicone form. This consistency allows the implant to maintain its shape and reduces the risk of leakage or rupture. The cohesive gel also gives the implant a more natural feel and appearance than other implant types.

While they may have slightly higher upfront costs, cohesive round breast implants are considered a long-term investment as they have a lower risk of complications and do not require frequent replacements. Your surgeon can discuss the benefits and considerations of cohesive silicone gel implants to determine if they are the right choice for you.

The Breast Augmentation Process

The breast augmentation process

The breast augmentation process involves several key steps to ensure that each patient achieves their desired outcome while prioritizing safety and comfort. Below are the general steps involved in breast augmentation surgery:

Consultation with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

Before undergoing any surgery, it is crucial to have a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. This initial meeting allows the surgeon and patient to discuss their goals, medical history, and potential risks associated with the procedure. It is also a chance for the patient to ask questions and address any concerns. A skilled plastic surgeon will take the time to listen to their patient’s desired outcome and assess their unique anatomy to recommend the best treatment plan.

For example, a patient may have asymmetrical breasts and want them to be more balanced in size. During the consultation, the surgeon can discuss options such as using different-sized implants or combining breast augmentation with a breast lift for optimal results. The consultation is a critical step in the breast augmentation process, as it sets the foundation for a safe and successful surgery. It is also an opportunity for the patient to establish trust and confidence in their surgeon, making it essential to achieve their desired outcome.

Preliminary Tests and Preparation

After the initial consultation, the patient will be scheduled for preliminary tests and preparation before their surgery. These tests may include a physical exam, blood work, and a mammogram or ultrasound to ensure no underlying health concerns could affect the procedure’s outcome. The preparation phase also involves discussing any necessary lifestyle changes leading up to the surgery, such as breast cancer, quitting smoking, or adjusting medication.

For example, if a patient has high blood pressure, their surgeon may recommend managing it through medication or lifestyle changes before surgery to reduce the risk of complications. Following these preparations is crucial as they help ensure the patient is in good health and ready for the procedure. It also allows the surgeon to plan for any potential challenges during surgery.

Choosing the Right Implant

Choosing the right breast implant is a crucial step in the breast augmentation process. It requires careful consideration of various factors, such as size, shape, material, and placement. A skilled plastic surgeon will work closely with their patient to determine the best implant option that aligns with their goals and anatomy. For example, a petite woman with a small frame may benefit from smaller-sized implants to achieve a more natural look and prevent future complications.

On the other hand, a patient with a broader chest may opt for larger-sized implants to achieve their desired fullness. The surgeon will also consider skin elasticity, nipple position, and existing breast tissue to select the right implant. They may also provide patients with 3D imaging technology to visualize how different implant sizes and shapes may look on their bodies. To achieve satisfactory results, the patient and surgeon must be on the same page when choosing an implant.


During the breast augmentation surgery, anesthesia is administered to ensure the patient remains comfortable and pain-free. The type of anesthesia used will depend on various factors, including the patient’s medical history and surgeon preference. Typically, there are three types of anesthesia used for breast augmentation: local anesthesia, general anesthesia, and intravenous (IV) sedation.

Local anesthesia involves numbing only the surgical area, such as the chest and breasts, to prevent pain during the procedure. This type of anesthesia is commonly used in minor surgeries or when combined with IV sedation for a more relaxed state. General anesthesia induces a temporary loss of consciousness and complete pain relief throughout the body. It is typically used for prolonged procedures and allows patients to sleep through surgery without discomfort.


The surgery can begin once all necessary preparations have been completed and the patient is under anesthesia. The surgeon will make incisions in previously discussed locations to insert the chosen breast implants. Incision options may include inframammary (under the breast crease), transaxillary (in the armpit), or periareolar (around the nipple). Once the breast enlargement implant is inserted into a pocket created by the surgeon, they will close the incisions with sutures or skin adhesive. The entire surgery typically takes around one to two hours.

Common Misconceptions about Breast Augmentation

Common misconceptions about breast augmentation

As with any popular cosmetic procedure, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding breast augmentation. It is crucial to separate fact from fiction when considering this surgical procedure to make an informed decision. Below are some common misconceptions about breast augmentation:

  1. Breast implants always look fake: This common misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. With advances in breast implant technology, materials, and surgical techniques, surgeons can achieve results that make the shape of your breasts look and feel remarkably natural. The key to obtaining a natural appearance lies in choosing the right implant size, shape, and placement that harmonizes with the patient’s body proportions and existing breast tissue. To recommend the most suitable option, a skilled plastic surgeon will evaluate various factors, including the patient’s anatomy, desired outcome, and lifestyle.
  2. Breast augmentation is only for women with small breasts: Another misconception is that breast augmentation is only suitable for women with smaller breasts. While this may be true in some cases, breast augmentation can benefit women of all sizes and shapes who are dissatisfied with the size, shape, or symmetry of their breasts. It is also a popular option for women who have lost volume and shape in their breasts due to weight loss, pregnancy, or aging.
  3. Breast implants need to be replaced every ten years: This is a common myth that breast augmentation consultation professionals have debunked. Modern breast implants are designed to last for many years without any issues, and there is no set time frame for when they should be replaced. However, attending regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon is essential to monitor the implants’ condition and ensure they function correctly.
  4. Breast augmentation will interfere with breastfeeding: While there may be temporary changes in nipple sensation after breast augmentation, it should not affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed. Most incisions used for this surgery are periareolar (around the nipple) or inframammary (in the crease under the breast), which do not interfere with milk ducts. Discussing any concerns about breastfeeding with your surgeon during the initial consultation is crucial.


Breast augmentation is a popular and effective cosmetic procedure that can enhance the size, shape, and symmetry of one’s breasts. It involves careful planning, preparation, and communication between the patient and surgeon to ensure satisfactory results. By understanding the process, choosing the right implant, and debunking common misconceptions, patients can make informed decisions about breast augmentation and achieve their desired outcome.

Working with a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon who prioritizes patient safety and satisfaction to ensure successful surgery and recovery is crucial. So, it’s essential to do thorough research and have open communication with your surgeon before undergoing breast augmentation. With proper planning, preparation, and realistic expectations, breast augmentation can be a life-changing procedure for many women.

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