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Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation is the enlargement of the breasts through the use of implants.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: June 26, 2012

Treatment Basics

Other names: Augmentation, mammoplasty, boob job, breast implants

It's the most famous-and perhaps the most conspicuous-of cosmetic surgeries: the boob job. Breast augmentation is perfect for those women who wish their genetics had provided more natural padding up front.

Breast augmentation involves the placement of an implant - essentially a sac filled with a soft gel or liquid - inside the breast tissue or underneath the pectoral muscle. Breast implants come in different sizes. The most common fillings for breast implants are silicone gel and saline solution.

Other types of breast implant fillings, including soya oil and hydrogel, have been withdrawn from the market. Both saline and silicone implants have a silicone shell. The saline implant is filled with saline solution (essentially, salt water) while the silicone implant is filled with a thicker silicone gel.

What It's Good For

Breast augmentation, as the name indicates, is used to increase the size and, in some cases, change the shape of the breasts. Implants cannot lift breasts that sag. You and your surgeon will determine the size and shape of your new breasts beforehand.

Women should take note of their anatomy in choosing their implants' profile (how much the implant protrudes in the front versus the side). Women with narrow chests might prefer a high profile implant, which largely projects in the front, to avoid too wide a chest post-implant.

Women may also choose a round or a teardrop-shaped implant. The teardrop-shaped implant is meant to imitate the natural slope of a woman's breast, though its irregular shape can make placement more difficult and increase the risk of side effects.

Who it works for: Some women simply want bigger breasts, while other women are seeking to restore breast fullness after pregnancy or surgery. Breast augmentation does not, however, fix breast sagging - though a breast lift can be readily combined with the augmentation surgery.

Recommended age range: Women must be 22 or older to get silicone breast implants in the United States. Women need to be 18 to get saline implants.

When will I see results?: Your breasts will immediately increase in size after the operation, but it could be a full month until the swelling subsides enough to see the final results.

Swelling above the breast muscle decreases in four days to two weeks; swelling below the muscle takes two to 12 weeks. Bruising lasts about two weeks (though not all patients will be bruised).

How long it lasts: Breast implants are not permanent, though they are long-lasting. On average, both saline and silicone breast implants last about 10-15 years, though some can last much longer without rupturing.

Key benefits of breast augmentation: The operation successfully increases breast size. A 2008 study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons showed that over 90 percent of women were very satisfied with the operation. Silicone implants are said to have a more natural, tissue-like feel, but saline implants are ultimately safer.

If a saline implant leaks, its watery contents are easily absorbed into the body with no side effects. Leaking silicone gel remains in the body and may need to be surgically removed.

Who's Done It?

Almost every female celebrity has been rumored at one point or another to have had breast augmentation. Some admitted recipients of the procedure include Carmen Electra, Christina Aguilera, Jaime Pressly and Hayden Panettiere.

Find experts who offer breast augmentation near you