What Happens During Breast Revision Surgery?
Of course, the answer depends very much on the reason for the surgery. Breast revision usually involves swapping out the old implants for new ones, often with a size change. It can also include a breast lift, release of scar tissue, and change to the size, shape, and location of the “pocket” (the space inside the body where the implant sits).
With some cosmetic problems, additional surgery may be needed for the best and longest-lasting results. For instance, repair of symmastia and bottoming out may be more successful when the implants remain out of the body for a period of at least 12 weeks after removing the old implants and strategically placing sutures to close off the pocket. Once proper healing and stabilization is achieved via the formation of new scar tissue, the final surgery can be done to replace the implants.
How to Minimize the Risk of Needing Breast Revision Surgery
Many cosmetic problems with implants (including double-bubble, symmastia, and bottoming out) are much more likely when putting very large implants in very small bodies. Placing the implant in a higher position rather than too low usually results in the most pleasing appearance, since the effects of gravity will cause the implant to drop over time. By the same token, a too-aggressive approach to creating cleavage is often partly to blame for symmastia. It is important to remember that dramatic cleavage is created by push-up bras, not by natural or enhanced breasts.
Since changing size is the number one reason for breast revision, it stands to reason that you would want to be sure about what size you want before having surgery. If you are considering breast augmentation, it is a great idea to “try before you buy.” The best way to accomplish this is to try on several different sizes and shapes of implants at your surgeon’s office. With the range of shapes, types, and sizes of implants available today, this is the only way to accurately judge which implant will work best for your body.
Of course, your surgeon is not going to let you walk out of the office with a bunch of implants to wear in your bra at home. If you simply want to judge what cup size you’re most comfortable with and wish to spend some time getting used to a D cup before deciding if it’s right for you, there are commercially available sizing systems that allow you to try out different sizes on your own time. However, if you want to try several sizes, this can get expensive. A popular (and cheaper) way to try out and get comfortable with a variety of sizes is to do the rice test.
Ask a lot of questions in your consultation with your surgeon, and ask some more on the day of your surgery. (It may be helpful to write your questions down in one place as you think of them, then bring your list with you any time you see your surgeon.)
Do your research, and consult with more than one surgeon before making your decision. An educated patient is much less likely to wind up needing a “do-over.” And don’t let price be your main determining factor when choosing a surgeon.
Finally, remember that it is of utmost importance to go into your surgery with realistic expectations. Perfection does not exist in nature or in plastic surgery. Your pre-surgery body is not completely symmetrical, and it won’t be perfectly symmetrical afterwards either.
If you do have breast revision surgery, be aware that you may still see some of the problem you came in to have fixed. It is not always possible to completely remove all hints of a double bubble, for instance. Keep in mind always that the goal of plastic surgery is to improve, not to perfect.
Interview with Adam Tattelbaum, MD, Rockville, MD; conducted on November 14, 2008
Saline-Filled Breast Implant Surgery: Making An Informed Decision, Mentor Corporation (information provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)