The Breast Decision

There are various reasons why women may wish to undergo breast augmentation procedures—this type of surgery can fix aesthetic issues as well as increase body confidence.

Breast enlargement procedures are some of the most regularly performed surgeries in the UK. The decision is major, can be expensive—according to the NHS, it can cost anywhere between £3,500 to £7,000—and carries some real risks to weigh up. Most importantly, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not for others. Also ensure you’re not considering breast enlargement to compensate for a particularly difficult or unhappy time in your life. Before committing to a surgeon, make sure you take some time to reflect on your decision and its ramifications; here is all you need to know about breast augmentation to help make up your mind.


If you choose to have your operation in England, check the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website for centres that perform the operation. When researching surgeons, ensure they are 

registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Check their fitness to practice history, how many operations they’ve performed, what follow-up treatment you should expect as well as patient satisfaction rates. Patients are advised to attend pre-surgery consultations to determine whether the operation is safe to perform. During these sessions, you will undergo several tests assessing your current health, medical history and potential allergies to certain medicines and anaesthetic. This will be useful in determining the kind of post-operative care required as well as finding out whether you’ll need to stay overnight in hospital after the procedure.

The procedure

Performed under general anaesthetic, the surgery can take up to an hour and a half. The surgeon will either make an incision two to five centimetres long in the crease below the breast, in the underarm or around the areola—preferences can be discussed prior to surgery during consultation sessions. 

There are two main types of implants that are commonly used in the UK: silicone gel and saline solution. Silicone gel implants contain soft or firm gel, are less likely to wrinkle and can give a more natural feel. However, if they rupture, they could cause siliconomas in the breast. Saline solution implants, on the other hand, are more likely to rupture or deflate over time but aren’t dangerous as the body can safely absorb saline in the event of a rupture. 

During the procedure, a pocket is created for the implant; this can be placed between the breast tissue and chest muscle or behind the chest wall muscle. Although both placement methods have their respective pros and cons, it is ultimately the size and shape of the breast and the looseness of the skin that will determine which option is best for each individual patient. When the surgery is complete, the incision will be closed up with stitches—these may be dissolvable—and covered with dressing.


Immediately after the procedure, patients will be required to wear a specialised post-surgical bra 24 hours a day to support the breasts and promote healing. Pain relief is provided if patients experience any discomfort. Although this may vary from case to case, full recovery will usually take between four to six weeks. Depending on your occupation, you may be able to return to work after two weeks. Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for at least a month after the surgery and keep any scars away from direct sunlight for a year. It is advised to have an MRI scan three years after the procedure and two years after that in order to check that everything is as it should be.

This type of operation will not last a lifetime: breast implants will likely need replacing at some point. Some patients may also need additional surgery after a few years to correct problems with the implants. 

Safety first

As there are numerous types of implants available for breast augmentation procedures, keeping safety in mind when choosing which implants to get is imperative. With various manufacturers on the market, doing your research is key.

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