What to consider before aesthetic breast surgery

Written by: Mr Mark Ho-Asjoe
Edited by: Emily Lawrenson

Aesthetic breast surgery remains popular across the UK, especially as plastic surgery becomes more socially acceptable and accessible - but breast surgery does not necessarily mean 'augmentation'. Nowadays there are various procedures which can be performed to change the appearance of the breasts, and all are tailored to the individual with their needs in mind. Top plastic surgeon Mr Mark Ho-Asjoe answers some of the questions you should be asking before undergoing aesthetic breast surgery, and advises what types of different procedure are available. 

What is aesthetic breast surgery?

Aesthetic breast surgery is about changing the volume and shape of a breast in proportion to the body and the requirement of the individual by using different surgical techniques. Requirements can be different depending on the individual, and therefore the surgery should be completely tailored with the individual’s needs in mind.

What kinds of aesthetic breast surgery are available?

Breast enlargement is a popular procedure, and the most common technique plastic surgeons currently employ is the use of a silicone implant, altering the shape and size of the breast depending on the requirement of the individual.

Others find that they need to reduce the size of their breasts, and we can remove skin and tissue, and tighten the breasts at the same time. Other cases can be different. For instance, there are ladies who are born with breasts that vary in shape and size, and we can improve symmetry by using all the aforementioned techniques.

Some women are born with a ‘narrowing’ of the breast, due to congenital issues. In cases like this, ‘slower’ surgery may be performed, meaning you may need one or two surgeries in order to properly complete the procedure.

How is breast surgery done?

Aesthetic breast surgery is about improving the shape and volume of the breast in proportion to the body. To increase the volume, the most common technique involves the use of a silicone implant. This is inserted behind the breast, through a small incision at the inframammary fold. This incision is normally about 5cm long, and the implant is placed either behind or in front of the muscles. The variations depend on the requirements of the patient and the shape of the implant.

Other individuals may require a reduction in the size of the breast, or they would prefer to have an uplift after having children, or as a result of gravitational changes. Both techniques involve repositioning the nipple, placing it at a higher position, and removing some of the excess skin, thus tightening the breast. Of course, in breast reductions, some tissue will be removed.

Is breast augmentation surgery painful?

In general, breast augmentation surgery is not very painful. Most patients complain of discomfort, which is actually related to the stretching of the skin and tissue itself. Some pain around the scar which is left behind is normal, and this pain is also related to the swelling which can occur after surgery. This swelling is normally at its worst point the day after surgery. Therefore, it is important to remember to take the recommended painkiller for a few days afterwards, and at regular intervals as advised by your surgeon. If you can do that, the pain can be very well controlled and it will improve in a very short period of time.

Can breast augmentation look natural?

The appearance of the breast after augmentation surgery is proportional to the amount of tissue the individual starts off with, and the size of the implant being put in. If they already have a reasonable amount of issue, and only wish to have a small increment, then the appearance will look very, very natural. However, we start off with a relatively small amount of issue, with a relatively large implant inserted into the breast, the appearance will take on the shape of the implant and then unfortunately, this will start to look unnatural.

How is the recovery after breast surgery?

It will take about six weeks for the body to fully recover from any type of surgery. The most important thing to remember after having breast surgery is not to do too much heavy lifting, and make sure not to raise your arms above the 90-degree level, allowing the muscles to relax and the swelling to go down.

Most commonly, patients ask me if they can go back to the gym. Then can, if they want, do some lower body exercise around the four to five week period, such as using a stationary bike. By exercising this way, the individual will not cause excessive movement in the upper limbs and chest area. However, to fully recover, you do need six weeks before you consider going back to the gym and exercising as you once did. 

By Mr Mark Ho-Asjoe
Plastic surgery

Mr Mark Ho-Asjoe is an esteemed consultant plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon with over 25 years' experience, working in the private sector in London since 2003. He has specialist interest in aesthetic and facial plastic surgery, microsurgery, cosmetic breast surgery, and limb trauma. In his private practice, Mr Ho-Asjoe undertakes all aspects of cosmetic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery. 

Mr Ho-Asjoe graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in 1989, and went on to begin his basic surgical training in the UK, followed by specialist surgical training at the Wellington Hospital in London. He has worked in prestigious clinics outside the UK, including the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, one of the leading microsurgical reconstructive centres in the world. Mr Ho-Asjoe also worked as an Honorary Lecturer in Plastic Surgery at the Queen Mary University Hospital in Hong Kong. He frequently lectures both nationally and internationally, and has contributed to a number of press articles and peer-reviewed journals on the subject of plastic and reconstructive surgery. 

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