Breast Augmentation | Surgery | MedStar Health
Breast Augmentation Overview

Breast augmentation is a popular elective procedure that typically involves using saline or silicone breast implants to enlarge your breasts. This procedure can be used to restore volume to achieve a more desirable shape and correct differences or asymmetry between your breasts. For some, fat transfer to the breast can be used to add volume.

You’ll find many different options to meet your individual needs, including various implant sizes, shapes, and incision techniques. In every procedure, the breast implant is inserted through a small incision and placed behind the breast tissue. Your doctor will help you understand your options and recommend the technique to best achieve your desired look and feel.

Planning and recovery

What to expect?

You and your doctor will discuss in detail the size, shape, and technique that’s suited best for your body and overall desired look.

On the day of the procedure, you’ll receive anesthesia via IV. Your doctor will make an incision designed to minimize any visual scarring. Depending on the technique, it may be along the edge of the areola, under the breast fold, or in the armpit.

After the incision is made, the implant will be inserted either under the pectoral muscle or directly behind breast tissue over the muscle (called the pre-pectoral approach). Many patients find that the pre-pectoral approach results in less pain and a more natural appearance compared with the traditional sub-pectoral approach. Once the implant is placed, the incision is then closed with sutures, skin adhesive, and/or surgical tape.

Recovery after surgery

After the procedure, your breasts will be wrapped in gauze with a support garment to help minimize swelling and support your breasts during the healing process. You’ll typically return home on the day of surgery with instructions from your doctor.

After returning home, you’ll wear your support garment around the clock and take any prescribed medications for pain and to prevent infection. Your doctor will advise you to take it easy during the initial healing process to prevent bleeding and pain. While pain typically subsides within the first week, you may have soreness and swelling for a few weeks after surgery. Your doctor will advise you on when to resume normal activity and exercise, and it’s important to follow these instructions even if you feel up to doing more. Your scars, while permanent, will fade over time and will be hidden as much as possible. To help with your scar’s appearance, you can ask your physician about Silagen scar refinement products carried by MedStar Health.

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy
    • You’re not pregnant or breastfeeding
    • Your expectations are realistic
    • You understand the risks that come along with surgery
    • You’re dissatisfied with the size, shape, volume, or symmetry of your breasts
  • What does it cost?

    The costs will vary based on the type of procedure and your specific needs. Most insurance plans do not cover this procedure.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available.

  • What is covered by insurance?

    In most cases, breast augmentation is not covered by insurance because of its classification as a cosmetic procedure. However, it’s always best to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier before your consultation. Breast reconstruction surgery and breast reduction surgery may be covered by insurance.

  • Do I need a referral to your office?

    If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

  • What are the risks of surgery?

    As with any surgery, it does pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications
    • Bleeding
    • Changes in nipple or breast sensation
    • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
    • Implant leakage or rupture
    • Incorrect implant position
    • Infection
    • Persistent pain
    • Poor scarring
    • Possibility of revision surgery
    • Scar tissue formation around the implant (capsular contracture)
    • Wrinkling of the skin over the implant

    In addition to these risks, you should be aware that breast implants generally do not last a lifetime, and you may need surgery in the future to replace one or both implants. Pregnancy, menopause, and changes in weight can affect breast appearance.

  • How should I prepare for surgery?

    Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications.

    You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the surgery and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.

    For more information, visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.