As the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure on the planet, more than 12,000 breast augmentations take place in Australia each year. With more women choosing to go under the knife, The Cosmetic Institute has put together a check list of 10 things to consider before signing on the dotted line to have surgery.
“Breast augmentations make up more than 90 percent of the surgeries we perform,” says Dr Huy Tang, cosmetic surgeon at The Cosmetic Institute, which performs some 5,000 breast augmentation procedures each year. “While it’s a fairly straight-forward procedure, any time a patient is considering surgery, we want to make sure they’re informed, educated and armed with the right questions to ask,” he said.
Here, Dr Tang outlines the 10 most important things to consider before going under the knife.
1. Be healthy
“Prior to your procedure it is critical that you are in excellent health,” says Dr Tang. “In particular, if you’re a smoker, it’s a very good idea to kick the habit at least eight weeks prior to your surgery.” According to Dr Tang, smokers have a much higher risk of serious complications during and after surgery, including infections and impaired wound healing.
2. Get educated
“It seems obvious, but make sure you’re well informed,” says Dr Tang, who recommends visiting forums, talking to people who have had the procedure and looking through the social media pages of the clinics you are interested in going with. “It is a very good idea to do this research before you meet your prospective surgeon so you can ensure all your questions can be addressed in your initial consultation,” he says.
3. Shop around
“Although it can be tempting to go with the first surgeon you find and book your procedure in straight away, don’t settle with the first clinic you visit,” says Dr Tang. “Ensure you have a consultation with at least two or three other clinics to gain some perspective on what’s out there and where you feel the most comfortable. In addition to getting to know the surgeon, you can familiarise yourself with the type of work they do by looking at before and after pictures.”
4. Get clear about costs
To avoid any surprises, make sure you are aware of the costs associated with your surgery up front. “Many clinics have hidden costs such as a facility hire fees, post op follow up fees and anaesthetist fees, so make sure all costs are laid out on the table before you decide,” Dr Tang advises.
5. Stay local
“I can’t stress strongly enough that patients need to think carefully before being lured overseas by the promise of cut-price surgery, as doing so exposes you to a number of unnecessary risks,” warns Dr Tang. In addition to being away from the comforts of home and the support of family and friends while recovering from surgery, Dr Tang points out that you’re likely to be travelling to a very hot, humid climate where the risk of infection can be increased and the standard of sanitation may not be as high. “You’ll also have no access to your surgeon once you return home, which may be crucial should complications occur weeks or even months after your surgery. We are lucky that Australia has one of the best medical systems in the world, so you couldn’t be in safer hands,” he says.
6. Ask for accreditation
“One of the very basic things you need to do is make sure both the clinic and the surgeon are accredited,” stresses Dr Tang, who warns that while the surgeon you’re talking to might be accredited, the facility may not be.
7. Ask about anaesthetic
“Enquire about who will be administering the anaesthetic and ask whether you will have a specialist anaesthetist on site dedicated to your care for the full duration of surgery,” says Dr Tang. “Make sure your surgeon discusses the type of anaesthetic that will be used and that you are well informed about the different types of anaesthetic options available.”
8. Get the low down on the implants
In terms of implant options, Dr Tang suggests you discuss everything from the type of implants your surgeon is planning to use (silicone gel or saline), to the size of implants they recommend based on your proportions, and their shape – which can be round or tear drop. “You’ll also want to ask about the texture of your implants’ surface – rough or smooth, whether your implants will be placed under or in front of the muscle, and the location of your incisions,” he says.
9. Be aware of the aftercare
“What happens after surgery is just as important as what happens during surgery,” says Dr Tang. “Following your surgery it is vital that you attend the recommended post op consultations with your surgeon and follow the aftercare directions they provide you with to the letter,” he says. He also suggests that you have a designated post op care partner to help look after you the days and even weeks following the procedure. “It is highly recommended that mothers in particular have assistance with general day to day activities as their upper body will be restricted and they won’t be able to do things like pick up their children, take a pram out of the car, or reach for anything above shoulder height.”
10. Keep your expectations in check
“Although breast augmentation is a relatively simple procedure, many people are unaware of the lifestyle adjustments that will need to be made following surgery and come in with unrealistic expectations about their recovery,” says Dr Tang. He advises that most patients will need to take a week or so off work and won’t be able to drive for a week either. “It’s also important to keep in mind that your new breasts will change dramatically in the first six to 12 weeks and will continue to settle over the 12 to 24 months following, so don’t expect immediate perfection,” he says.
In terms of scarring, Dr Tang says that patients are usually left with a thin line across the base of the breast, which fades over the following 12 months. And finally, because you’re breasts will still be healing, Dr Tang says that underwire bras are off limits for about six weeks.