Breast augmentation

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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
Breast augmentation is a procedure in which artificial implants are inserted just above or behind the chest muscle. Augmentation is typically sought for one of two reasons: to enlarge breasts which have always been small, or to restore breasts which have reduced in size following pregnancy or a large weight loss. The implants are filled with a saline, (SAY-leen) or saltwater, solution and are available in various sizes. They may be inserted through an incision in the armpit, around the dark border of the nipple known as the areola (uh-REE-oh-luh), or in the crease underneath the breast. These locations help disguise the scars, though scarring is generally minimal. Breast augmentation is usually performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, and may take from one to three hours. As with all surgeries, there are possible complications, including infection, changes in nipple sensation, and pooling of blood under the skin. In some patients, scar tissue may form around the implant, causing hardening or tenderness of the breasts. The implant itself can also leak. In addition, implants can make it more difficult to spot breast lumps during mammograms. Therefore, it's important to consider your decision carefully and discuss all aspects of the surgery in advance with a qualified doctor.

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