Published in City Times
What you need to know about breast augmentation
What you need to know about breast augmentation
Breast augmentation is gaining popularity as a means of enhancing the
overall cosmetic appearance of women, across continents. It is done
primarily to increase breast size or to correct an imbalance in breast size,
reveals Dr.Ahmed R.Marzouk, Cosmetologist, Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah.
Is the purpose of breast augmentation entirely cosmetic, or does it serve
some other purpose as in the case of repair of tissues following surgery for
Actually, in 99% cases, the reason is cosmetic. Sometimes, yes, it is done
in cancer patients, post cancer surgery.
In what ages of people can breast augmentation be done?
Usually above the age of 20. Generally, those going in for the
procedure are women in the child-bearing ages, between 20 to 45 years.
After 45 - 50, the women usually lose the desire to change or transform
anything in their body.
Are there different ways in which this is done?
Yes, we have injections and implants by which we can achieve the desired
results. We have two types of breast injections. One is the Polyacrylamide
Gel, which increases the breast size spontaneously, at the moment. The
second type of injection is one which may increase the breast tissue itself;
so the breast will be augmented. These two have their own advantages and
disadvantages. The advantage of the first type of injection is that it is
spontaneous but it may last for about five years only, after which period
the breast size will reduce, though it will not come back to the
pre-augmentation size. So the injection has to be repeated after 5 years.
The second injection will naturally increase the breast size, which lasts
life long and hence will not need to be repeated.
What is the injection schedule that is followed for these two types of
injections, to achieve the desired augmentation?
The polyacrylaminde injection might be a one shot injection whenever it is
done, once in five years. However, 1 or 2 months after the primary injection, the
women should come in for examination because whenever we inject the gel, it
takes sometime to completely take the final shape. So we need
to know whether she requires an additional dose of the gel to be injected or
not. The second type of injection that I mentioned, has to be repeated
monthly for 3 - 4 consecutive months after which there is no need for a
So this procedure would be done as an out-patient one?
Yes, that's so. It may take about ½ to 1 hour at the maximum. When we
inject, we manipulate the amount we inject and try to concentrate it in
those spots which will give the shape. We examine the woman's breast and
identify 3 to 4 areas which are best suited for the desired shape.
What about the components of these two injections? Do they carry any risk
factors for the women taking them?
In 99% of cases, there is no risk of any side effects of the injections
whatsoever. Even in the 1% of cases where an element of risk is present, it
is not because of the injection per se but because of unhygienic handling
conditions of the injection or the bottles containing the substance. The
components of the injections do not cause any adverse side effects since
they have been tested for a number of years now. The material used in the
second type of injection is a purely natural one which our bodies already
have but not in sufficient quantities. So we inject it into the breast.
What do the breast implants involve?
As I mentioned earlier, implants are also of two kinds, those made from
silicone gel and the saline implants. Saline implants are very much safe to
use. There is a lot of controversy over the use of silicone get implants in
recent times because certain sections of doctors argue that the silicone gel
may leak into the blood stream, cause infection and embolus, which is a
serious condition. So to play it safe, we are using saline implants. The
only possible side effect of saline implants is that it can burst but this
will not cause any harm to the women. All that we need to do in such a
situation, is to remove this implant and put in a new one. But the real
disadvantage of the saline implant is that it is not giving that much shape
as desired or expected by the women. But nowadays there is a new gel which
is silicone based but without the leak effect. But it has not yet been
approved to be marketed.
Implants obviously involve surgery. The implant is inserted through a small
incision in the armpit, directly under the areola, or in the crease of the
lower section of the breast, the most commonly used area. Implants are
placed in front. The whole procedure taking up to 1 - 1 ½ hours. As with any surgery, this surgery carries the risk of infection at the site of incision, also to count the risk of anesthesia.
Is it true that women who've had breast augmentation carry a higher risk of
breast cancer later?
No, not at all.
Are the implants, silicone gel or saline ones, permanent?
No. Though a lot of people do not ask us this question. But they need to
be aware that these implants are not permanent. They need to be changed
after 10-15 years; they could be hazardous if not removed after this period
of time. The implants may burst and the silicone may get into the blood
How easy is it to have the implants removed should a woman decide she wants
it no longer at some future date?
Usually, it is easy, though harder than putting it in. But in the hands of
experienced plastic surgeons, it is rather simple.
Can women with breast implants, breast feed?
Yes, because we are not interfering with the glandular tissues of the
breast; the surgery doesn't affect the glandular tissue any way.
What are the immediate dos and don'ts following an implant
Personal hygiene is very important. Antiseptic solutions should be used at
the site of the incision. There should be no trauma at all of any kind.
The woman should not wear tight brassiere. She should abstain from
strenuous physical activity and lifting heavy thing for a few weeks
If an injection can do the job with practically no risk, as an outpatient
procedure requiring no hospitalization, then why implants?
Yes, that is true. Almost 80% of women coming in for breast augmentation go
for the injections. But there are candidates for injections, candidates for
the type of injections and candidates for implants. In women with very
small breasts, or in those women in whom the breast tissue which have
receptors, do not respond to the injections, implant is the only option.
Finally, since in 99% of cases, breast augmentation is done for cosmetic
purposes, women have a pre-determined shape of the breast in their mind,
which they want following augmentation treatment. This cannot be done with
If injections can't be used on some women, the silicone gel has its share of
risks and the saline implants do not necessarily produce results to the
extent desired, then what option do these woman really have?
Basically we have to examine the women on a case-by-case basis and see what
technique is best suited to their anatomical structure. Secondly, we have
to assess her mental makeup to evaluate what is the shape she really has in
mind which she wants. Based on these two factors, we will provide her the
best fit solution.
Are there women who would not make ideal candidates for breast augmentation,
whether by implants or by injections?
99% we can perform it on all women. It is a completely safe procedure with
no side effects at all. The 1% of people on whom it cannot be done include
women with serious medical problems like HIV, those having low immunity,
women who are highly diabetic, or have high infections, have high or low
blood pressure and those having skin disease.
What about women having a strong family history of breast cancer or who have
cysts in the breast?
In these women, we recommend certain types of breast augmentation which
could be either of two things: breast implants or injection of some kind of
silicone which is not a silicone but a gel, the polyacrylamide gel. For
women having cysts in the breast, the cysts type should be identified first
and then treated accordingly. Then augmentation technique suited to the
woman, can be done.
What about women who are pregnant or those currently breast-feeding.
Augmentation is best avoided in these women till such time that they stop
Is it true that breast augmentation is better not done on women who are
actively losing or gaining weight?
Yes, that's true because weight loss or gain can change the shape and size
of the breasts. However, these people can go in for augmentation once they
are through with their weight-gaining or losing process. But these are a
very small percentage of people.
Does breast augmentation also help women with droopy or sagging breasts?
If the sagging is minor, we would be raising the sagging skin and then go
ahead with the augmentation. But if the sagging skin is large, we first
have to do some plastic surgery to cut down the skin of the breast and make
it that much smaller or appropriate to their body measurements and then go in for
augmentation if they wish to.