Breast Implant Surgery
What to Expect from Breast Implant Surgery
Breast implant surgery is one of the most popular cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures performed in the world. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation procedures increased by 2% in the last year. Breast implant surgery was the procedure most in demand, totaling 296,000 in 2010.
Growing popularity aside, breast implant surgery, like any surgical procedure, requires patients to follow instructions and guidelines to ensure the best outcomes. Your surgeon will provide you with specific directions to follow two weeks before the procedure and after your surgery. These guidelines will tell you what medications, supplements and substances to avoid and take in addition to other information that will help you understand how to prepare for your breast surgery, and how to take care of yourself after your procedure.
Once you have made the decision to have breast implant surgery, and after you have had your consultations and scheduled the surgery, it is important to make sure you take adequate time off work to heal. Every patient and every surgery is different. Ask your doctor how many vacation or sick days to schedule. Most surgeons recommend at least five to seven non-working recovery days after breast implant surgery. Also, have a care-giver available on the day of your surgery and for at least 24 - 48 hours after your surgery to help you. Your physical capabilities will be limited after surgery, so you will be advised to refrain from certain activities for up to two weeks after the procedure.
Be sure to pick up prescribed medications needed for pain, discomfort and swelling before the day of your surgery, so you have them when you arrive home.
All patients are required to have a ride to and from the surgical facility or hospital. This person can be a friend, family member, significant other or spouse. Since breast implant surgery is a more invasive surgery, you will have general anesthesia during the procedure, which means you will be unable to drive or care for yourself directly after the surgery. You will be totally unconscious and will feel no pain during the surgery.
After you wake up, you may feel groggy or nauseated from the anesthesia. Also, as the anesthesia wears off, you will start feeling pain in your breasts, which is when you will begin the medications as prescribed by your surgeon. Because of the effects of the anesthesia, you will not be able to drive yourself home. Make sure your trusted care-giver is available and accessible in case of any complications or physical needs you may have during and after the procedure.
Breast implant surgery itself usually takes one or two hours, as long as there are no major complications. If you combine breast implant surgery with other surgical procedures, such as tummy tuck, mommy makeover or breast lift surgery, it may take longer. It is common to have more than one procedure at the same time. To get an idea of how much time your specific procedure(s) should take, talk to your doctor.
Before The Surgery
Before your surgery, you should think ahead about what you will need and want during your recovery period. If you have children, you may want to schedule a care-giver to help you and to help with your children while you recover. Chances are, you will experience discomfort and limited mobility for a few days, post-surgery, but your prescribed medications will help. You want to make life easier for yourself by taking at least a full week off of work and minimize disturbances and distractions from your employer or employees.
Best practices before your surgery include: arranging for additional help, shopping for necessary items and groceries, preparing meals in advance to avoid cooking, purchasing magazines, books and preparing a movie list to stay entertained while you heal. You may also want to buy foods that are simple and easy to prepare, so you will only have to put forth minimal effort to prepare your meals. For the first day or two, you might not want solid foods, so it is also a good idea to stock up on drinks like Gatorade, Sprite, and clear fruit juices. Have some of these waiting by your bedside for when you get home.
Your doctor may instruct you to buy some antibacterial soap, which you will use to wash and bathe per your post-surgical directions. You may also need to buy soft gauze bandages that you can use to keep your incision sites well-protected so they can heal properly. Your surgeon or one of the staff members will provide you with compression garments to wear after the surgery to position and keep the implants in place and help them settle.
Remember that healing will be much easier if you are already healthy, so take whatever precautions you can to keep yourself at optimum health before going in for surgery. Refrain from smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and prohibited medications before your breast implant surgery.
In some cases doctors have computer programs that can simulate the results that can be obtain with surgery.
The Day Of The Surgery
After all of the decisions and preparation, finally your big day has arrived. Now you are ready for your breast implant surgery and here is a snapshot of what will happen during the procedure. Knowing what to expect can help reduce and eliminate any pre-surgery jitters you may have on the day of your surgery.
When you have your last appointment before the scheduled surgery, your doctor will provide you with a list of instructions to follow and make sure the procedure is successful. The best practice is to follow these specific instructions. The night before or hours before the surgery, the doctor will likely instruct you to abstain from eating any food for a number of hours before your procedure. You may be given an antibiotic to take as a precaution to help prevent infection on the day of your surgery. Because having any kind of surgery can make you nervous, your doctor may also prescribe a mild sedative to take the night before your surgery. This will help you sleep so that you can feel healthy and confident on the day of your surgery. When you come to the hospital or clinic, wear or bring loose-fitting clothes, which will make it easy for you to dress after your procedure.
When you arrive to the hospital or clinic, you will change out of your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You will have a brief opportunity to talk to your doctor about what is going to happen. This is your last chance to make sure that your doctor understands exactly what you want and that you understand what is going to happen during and after your breast surgery. Once you have your questions answered and if all is agreed upon, you will be put under anesthesia to begin the breast implant surgery procedure.
The surgery usually takes one to two hours, and you will be unconscious the entire time. Once your breast implant surgery is complete, you may not wake up for another half hour or more. The doctor will monitor your vital signs for this duration to make sure you are safe and responsive as you begin to awaken. Once you are awake, you will still feel sleepy and groggy, but the healthcare providers will begin to help you get dressed and prepare you to go home with your designated driver.
During The Surgery
Every breast implant surgery is different, especially if you are having multiple procedures done at the same time. In most cases, the surgery will take from one to two hours.
Once you are in the operating room, you will be put under using anesthesia. Patients are unconscious throughout the procedure, so will not feel any pain or have any awareness of what is happening during the surgery. A team of professionals, including the surgeon, an anesthesiologist and one or two trained medical assistants will be a part of the surgery to make sure the procedure is successful and that patients receive proper care.
The anesthesiologist will be on hand to administer the anesthesia safely and make sure you have the prescribed dosage throughout the procedure to keep you from waking up or feeling any pain. Some people have allergic reaction to anesthesia. The anesthesiologist is medically trained to monitor patient reactions and act immediately if something goes wrong. They are highly skilled to manage risks and monitor vital signs and ensure your safety.
The type of breast implants and procedure will determine where the incisions are made to place the implants. During the procedure, your surgeon will make the incisions to place the breast implants as previously decided in during your consultation.
The incisions will be made either below the breasts, under the armpits, around the areolas/nipples or in the navel area.
Your doctor may use one of several techniques to place the implants in the breast cavity either above, between or behind the muscles. Again this is pre-determined between you and your surgeon, during the consultation process.
Silicone implants will be pre sized and filled with gel before placement and saline implants will be put in empty and then filled to the decided cup size through a tube, after the implant shells are placed in the surgical breast pockets.
After the breast implants are properly inserted, filled and placed, the surgeon will check for physical symmetry and evenness on both sides, then the incision sites will be closed. In all cases, the doctor will have to stitch up the incisions after the implants have been safely inserted. Great care will be taken to keep stitches small and minimize scarring. Incision sites will require proper care after the procedure to reduce the risk of infection and scarring.
Once your surgery is finished, your surgeon and his staff apply post-surgical topical medications and bandage the surgical areas, then monitor your vital signs, and prepare you to awaken.
As patients begin to gain consciousness, the surgeon and staff may ask a few questions to help understand the patients' cognitive capabilities. Once a patient can answer simple questions and vital signs are normalized, medical staff members will help dress the patient in preparation for immediate recovery and the ride home. During the initial recovery period, as the patient is waking up after surgery, the surgeon or his administrative staff will communicate with the driver/care giver and make sure he or she has a copy of the post-surgery instructions and knows how to best care for the patient immediately after leaving the facility or hospital.
It is best to obtain copies of the post-surgery instructions before the day of your breast implant surgery, but before you leave, your surgeon and staff will provide you with a copy and make sure you understand how to take care of yourself and help others care for you after your breast implant surgery. Your surgeon and his staff will provide you with their contact information and they will be on call for your needs after the procedure.
How Can I Best Prepare For My Surgery?
The best way to prepare for your surgery is by living a healthy lifestyle and by having realistic expectations from this procedure.
You must make sure that you take good care of your body, eat nutritious meals, take required supplements and drink a lot of water. Regular exercise helps before surgery, and of course, you should avoid consuming harmful substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs. Even legalized tobacco can be damaging to your body and should be avoided for several weeks before you have surgery.
Other preparations include researching breast implants and surgical outcomes. Consult with your doctor and buy all the supplies you will need for your recovery in advance of the big day of surgery.
You also have to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. For most people, this is a voluntary choice, if you elect to change your body, you need to develop realistic expectations about what the changes that will occur after your breast implant surgery. Learn all you can about the procedure and talk to your doctor about your expectations. Try to be realistic, and do not expect radical changes to your overall life. Remember that you are changing your breast size and shape. Everything else will likely stay the same in your life after your new breast implants.
Taking care of yourself and being realistic are the two best ways to manage the outcomes and increase satisfaction with the results of your surgery.
What Kind Of Anesthesia Will My Surgery Require?
Breast implant surgery is always performed under general anesthesia, because it is an invasive surgery and you would not want to be awake. In some rare cases, a doctor may use local anesthesia, (meaning that only the affected area is numbed and the patient remains awake). The use of general anesthesia safeguards that you will be sedated and unconscious for the duration of the surgery, so you will not feel pain or be aware of anything that is happening.
General anesthesia does involve risks. Make sure that you talk to your doctor about anesthesia so that you fully understand all of the risks before you go in for surgery.
Here is a list of instructions to use as a guideline before a cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure.
Checklist for Breast Implant Surgery:
- Make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the procedure and take care of you for the first 24-72 hours following the procedure.
- If you have kids, find childcare for them for the first 3 days after surgery.
- Write your surgeon’s phone number down and keep it in a safe place. Call the surgeon if you have symptoms of infection or questions during the recovery process.
- Remember to take medications on time, as prescribed.
- Get prescription and over-the-counter medications before surgery as well as ice packs, loose-fitting clothes, and any special food items recommended by your doctor to make the recovery process go more smoothly.
- Ask your doctor how long it will be before you will be able to return to work.
- Ask your doctor how long it will be before you will be able to return to your normal daily activities.
- Avoid extreme temperatures and strenuous activities until your doctor says it’s okay to exercise.