A patient information handout from John B. Tebbetts, M.D., P.A. (Dallas, TX) 



Increasing the volume or size of the breasts surgically is called 
augmentation mammaplasty. 

When breasts are excessively small in proportion to the torso or hips, a 
figure imbalance exists which may limit clothing options or your feeling 
about your figure.  

There are two major causes of.small breasts: (l) an inherited familial 
tendency. (breast development during puberty may be limited by inherited 
factors) and (2) shrinkage (involution) of breast tissue volume following 
pregnancy. With pregnancy, most women experience significant breast 
enlargement. Following delivery or nursing the breast tissue shrinks 
(involutes) often to a size or volume smaller than before the pregnancy. Both 
types of small breasts can be significantly improved by adding volume (a 
breast prosthesis or implant) within the skin envelope of the breast. The two 
types of breasts are somewhat different: with inherited small breasts, 
particularly if the breasts have not been enlarged by pregnancy, the skin 
envelope is relatively tight. With a larger breast or following enlargement 
with pregnancy, the skin envelope is usually somewhat looser. Both types of 
breast can be enlarged significantly by augmentation mammaplasty. 


In any woman, the breasts are never exactly the same size or the same shape. 
Whichever breast is larger (even though slightly), will have greater weight 
or gravitational pull on the breast, and will stretch the skin envelope 
downward. Since the nipple areolar complex is attached to the skin envelope, 
it will move downward also as the skin envelope stretches. In most women, 
just as one breast is slightly larger than the other, one of the nipple 
areolar complexes will be slightly lower than the other. These slight size 
and shape differences exist in every woman, are quite acceptable, and seldom 
noticeable.  Augmentation mammaplasty usually does not involve repositioning 
of the nipple, but by carefully measuring and noting differences before 
surgery, normal asymmetries can be minimized visually by surgical adjustment.  

In most women, breast cleavage is produced by a bra. Breast position usually 
is slightly "down and out." Very few breasts point directly forward off the 
chest wall. The space between the breasts also varies widely from woman to 
woman. The actual shape of the breast is determined by the shape of the skin 
envelope, not by the shape of breast tissue within that envelope. If breast 
tissue were removed from the envelope, it has no shape of its own, but acts 
as a "filler" which is shaped by the skin envelope. Hence, the basic shape of 
your breast following augmentation will be similar but with a fuller volume 
than before the procedure. Without a bra, the upper profile of the breast in 
side view is usually straight, regardless of the size of the breast. 
Excessive outward bulging with an outwardly curving contour in the upper 
breast is a telltale sign of excessive augmentation. Each woman's skin 
envelope is slightly different, and during your consultation and exam, we 
will discuss balancing size options with optimal aesthetic breast 

When you lie down, the normal breast falls to the side, losing some of its 
upward projection off the chest wall. This characteristic can be maintained 
by proper techniques in the augmented breast, preventing the excessive upward 
projection often seen when augmented patients are lying on their backs in a 
bathing suit. An augmented breast can be totally natural, indistinguishable 
from a normal breast in or out of clothing. 

Breast prostheses are placed behind the breast, not within the breast. They 
do not interfere with normal breast function (for example, you can nurse a 
child following a breast enlargement). The breast can be examined and 
mammograms performed exactly the same as if the implant were not in place. 
There is no evidence to indicate that breast implants cause or hamper the 
detection of breast cancer. 


The small incisions necessary for augmentation mammaplasty can be placed in 
one of three different areas: (l) in the fold beneath the breast 
(inframammary location), (2) around the edge of the nipple areolar complex 
(the periareolar approach), and (3) high in the hollow portion of the armpit 
(the axillary approach). When an incision heals, a small scar results. The 
quality or visibility of that scar depends on several factors. The surgeon 
must place the incision in the proper and least conspicuous area. All scars 
are slightly reddened for a few months following surgery. How quickly the 
redness disappears and how thoroughly it disappears varies from individual to 
individual. At least 90 percent of all scars placed in any location, if 
properly closed, will result in an inconspicuous scar after maturation is 
complete. All scars, however, are not, good scars even when they are properly 
placed and incisions properly closed. Some individuals, due to their healing 
characteristics may form scars which are more visible, raised, or red in 
color. These do not mature as well and may not fade in color and firmness 
over time. Unfortunately, we cannot predict which patient will fall into the 
small percentage who form poor scars, and hence, a visible scar on the 
visible portion of the breast may not be necessary or desirable. Both the 
incision under the breast and the incision around the areola inevitably leave 
a visible scar on the breast, and fortunately in most instances the scar is 
quite inconspicuous. 

Both the incision beneath the breast and the incision around the nipple 
require surgery through breast tissue and introduction of the implant through 
a tunnel in the breast tissue. As the pocket is developed through breast 
tissue to receive the implant, tiny nerves may be damaged and loss of nipple 
sensation may result. With the incision beneath the breast or around the 
nipple, loss of nipple sensation is slightly more likely to occur than with 
the axillary approach in patients we have studied. 

Bacteria which normally live on the skin enter the breast through the nipple, 
and actually "live" in the small ducts inside the breast. When the implant is 
passed through any of these ducts the chance of infection around the implant 
is slightly higher than with the axillary approach which involves no passage 
through breast tissue, instead gaining access completely behind the breast 

The axillary or armpit approach for augmentation therefore, offers three 
distinct advantages for most breasts: (l) no visible scar on the aesthetic 
unit of the breast (and a scar about 1-1/2 inch in length high in the 
armpit). (2) a much lower chance of temporarily or permanently losing nipple 
sensation, and (3) less chance of infection since during introduction, the 
implant does not traverse breast tissue containing bacteria. The axillary 
approach can be used in over 95 percent of cases. In the extremely hanging or 
sagging breast, the inframammary or periareolar approach usually gives better 
results than the axillary approach. Certain types of implants (which will be 
discussed later) cannot be introduced and positioned well through the 
axillary approach.  

The axillary or armpit incision is placed in the highest portion of the 
armpit hollow. A tunnel is created from that point behind the breast for 
placement of the implant. After performing inframammary and periareolar 
approaches for a number of years, I became very interested and have developed 
and published refinements in technique for the axillary approach mainly 
because it avoids placement of a scar on the visible aesthetic unit of the 
breast. In refining this procedure in the laboratory and surgically over the 
past few years, 1 have accumulated data which strongly supports the three 
distinct advantages mentioned above. When properly placed, the incision in 
the armpit is not visible in any position except when lying down with the 
arms extended at more than 45 degrees to the body, a very unusual and 
unnatural position. Even with activities such as tennis or dancing in a 
sleeveless dress, light always comes from overhead and the armpit area is in 
relative shadow. The axillary scar is far less visible in all body positions 
than either of the other two approaches. In addition, the skin of the armpit 
is an area which seems to less frequently form undesirable scars compared to 
the skin underneath the breast or around the nipple. With any of the three 
approaches, the small scar is approximately 4-5 cm in length (about 1-1/2 
inches) and requires approximately one year to totally mature to its best 
appearance. At first the scar is a very faint line which then becomes 
reddened and slightly firm for a period of two to three months. As the 
redness fades, the firmness also subsides. When the scar is mature it is 
faded inconspicuous and soft.  

Breast implants may be placed in front of, or partially behind the pectoralis 
major muscle, a large muscle on the front of the chest wall. When the implant 
is finally positioned, only approximately the upper one-third of the implant 
is actually covered by muscle. This slight pressure by the lower border of 
the pectoralis muscle on the upper part of the implant helps prevent the 
unnatural upper bulging appearance of the overly augmented breast. Most 
implants placed partially behind the pectoralis muscle are less likely to 
become excessively hard due to capsular contracture. 


Technology has improved drastically in breast prostheses manufacturing 
techniques in the past few years. Two basic types of breast implants are now 
in widespread use: (1) a smooth outer silicone envelope filled with.silicone 
gel and (2) a .similar silicone envelope filled with silicone gel but covered 
with an outer coating of a "porous" polyurethane material. 

The "smooth" outer silicone envelope implant was developed approximately 30 
years ago, and has been refined since that time. When placed in a pocket 
behind the breast which is larger than the size of the implant, the implant 
can move and "flow" very much like normal breast tissue. For an optimal 
result, motion exercises are necessary to maintain an open pocket requiring a 
time commitment of about 5-10 minutes per day. When these "exercises" are 
properly performed, the chance of your developing a hard breast is 
approximately 5 percent (95 percent chance of a soft natural breast).  

In contrast, the polyurethane covered prosthesis encourages surrounding 
tissue to attach to the outer-surface of the implant. Motion exercises are 
not necessary with this implant. However, since tissues attach to the outer 
surface of the implant, the implant does not move and "flow" quite freely as 
the smooth outer envelope implant. The polyurethane implant therefore is 
slightly firmer to feel and does not fall to the side quite as much when you 
are lying down. When lying down, the polyurethane implant will project upward 
slightly more than the smooth silicone implant. The chance of a polyurethane 
covered implant becoming excessively hard (capsular contracture) is 
approximately 2-3 percent, very slightly lower than the smooth silicone 

In summary, for the patient who desires a maximally natural breast and is 
willing to perform motion exercises 5 minutes per day, the smooth silicone 
covered implant placed via the axillary approach is most favorable. If, on 
the other hand, you do not wish to perform motion exercises or desire a much 
larger breast and do not mind slightly more upward projection when you are 
lying down and slightly less mobility of the implant, you may prefer a 
polyurethane covered prosthesis. At the present time, the polyurethane 
covered implant must be placed through an incision beneath the breast or if 
you have a very large areola, through an incision around the areola. Due to 
its lack of a "sliding" smooth surface, it cannot be predictably introduced 
and properly positioned through the axillary approach. Introduced through the 
incision under the breast or around the nipple, you will also have a very 
slightly higher risk of losing nipple sensation or of having infection 
following the procedure. These risks are quite low, and are acceptable for 
most patients. 


All of my augmentation mammaplasty procedures are performed on an out patient 
or day surgery basis. I do not restrict your normal activity in anyway 
following surgery, but rather encourage you to immediately resume all normal 
activities. I ask you to restrict strenuous athletic activities for two weeks 
following your surgery. You will be allowed to shower the day following 
surgery but other than performing motion exercises if you select a smooth 
silicone implant, there are no restrictions whatever regarding your activity. 
Most patients resume normal activities the next day. and most return to work 
within 2-3 days. It's very unusual for our patients to require any type of 
pain medication for more than 24-36 hours. More specific instructions 
regarding postoperative care are detailed in a later section entitled "After 
Your Augmentation Mammaplasty."  


When I visit with you in the office, we will review your last medical history 
as well as your desires regarding augmentation. Age is not a limiting factor 
in determining who can have an augmentation mammaplasty as long as your 
general health is good. We will review extensively the information contained 
here, as well as more specific information with respect to your specific 
needs. After examining your breasts and making detailed measurements I can 
much more precisely define recommendations for you. 

When a decision is made to proceed with surgery, I will take all of your 
preoperative photographs, so that I am assured they will reflect all of the 
important things I need to see to make accurate surgical decisions. They are 
taken with you in the erect position (the position in which you are most 
often seen). You are lying down during the procedure and I refer to these 
photographs frequently since your tissues appear very different than when you 
are standing.  


Routine laboratory tests including blood counts and blood chemistries, as 
well as an electrocardiogram if you are over 40 years old, will be performed 
prior to surgery. These tests are performed routinely to screen for any 
abnormalities which might complicate your anesthesia or surgery.  

PRIOR TO YOUR SURGERY. Aspirin may retard platelet function, a blood 
component which is important to normal blood clotting mechanisms There are 
many drugs which contain aspirin. Before taking any drug, check the label 
carefully to assure that it contains no aspirin. 

Safety in the administration of anesthesia or sedation requires that your 
stomach be absolutely empty for this interval of time before surgery.  

Shower or bathe normally the evening prior to surgery. Do not shave the 
armpit area for at least twelve hours prior to surgery.  

A loose fitting shirt or a jogging suit which zips in the front is preferable 
to clothing which must be put on over your head. It is not necessary to bring 
any specific type of bra, since we will not place you in a bra immediately 
following surgery.  

Please be sure that you have all of your questions answered prior to going 
into the hospital. I prefer that you make additional appointments with me in 
the office if necessary to answer questions regarding your surgery. On the 
day of surgery, I will visit with you briefly immediately prior to surgery.  


I usually do not prescribe heavy sedation or premedication prior to your 
being brought to the operating room. In order to minimize total necessary 
doses of drugs, sedation is best administered through an intravenous line 
rather than given in shot form into your muscle. It is normal to be slightly 
excited or apprehensive immediately prior to surgery, and this will be 
alleviated quickly once your intravenous line is inserted.  

The nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist will speak with you briefly and 
then insert a small intravenous line into your arm and begin giving you 
sedative medication which will relax you very quickly.  

Prior to surgery, I will ask you to sit up briefly so that I can make small 
marks to use as guidelines during your surgery. You will then be positioned 
comfortably and will have no recall of further events during your surgery.  

The operation is performed using local anesthetic injected in the armpit 
areas, supplemented by heavy sedation as necessary during portions of the 
procedure which might cause you discomfort. In addition, the medications have 
a profound amnesic effect, and you will have NO RECALL OF ANY EVENTS during 
the procedure, although technically you are not under general anesthesia.  

Incisions are made, the tissues are appropriately separated and pockets 
created to receive the prostheses. After the prostheses are inserted, you 
will be changed to a sitting position on the operating table. I carefully 
inspect both sides to assure symmetry and make additional adjustments if 
necessary. The incisions are then closed with sutures placed beneath the skin 
which will reabsorb and do not require suture removal.  

At the completion of your operation, you will be transferred to the 
appropriate recovery area where you will remain until you awaken. I purposely 
like for you to remain drowsy, since you will be much more comfortable. After 
an appropriate interval of observation, usually a few hours, you will be 
allowed to leave with someone to drive you and stay with you the evening of 

Prior to leaving the hospital, you will be given prescriptions for pain 
medication with instructions.  


Since I want you to remain drowsy and comfortable the evening of your 
Surgery, fill your prescription for pain medication on the way home (or have 
the hospital fill it) and take one or two capsules immediately on arriving at 
home. Pain medication is best taken with a small amount of food and not on an 
empty Stomach since nausea may occasionally occur. Make yourself comfortable, 
not necessarily in bed, a couch or comfortable chair is fine. You will 
continue to be drowsy and will awaken intermittently during the evening. Use 
the pain medication every 3-4 hours as necessary to remain comfortable.  

Do not try to eat any heavy foods the evening of surgery - liquids or light 
foods are preferable, assuming normal diet the next morning.  

Should you experience any nausea the evening of surgery, drink small amounts 
of liquids only - no food until morning. Anti-nausea medications are 
generally not very effective, and any nausea experienced from the medications 
used in surgery should be gone the next morning.  

Bandages placed at the time of surgery over your incisions may be removed the 
next morning. Your incisions require no special care. All stitches are placed 
beneath the skin and will reabsorb. If steri-strips are in place, do not 
remove for 5-7 days.  

You may shower and wet the incisions the morning after surgery. After 
showering, dry the armpit or other incision area normally with a towel. Spray 
deodorant which converts to dry powder when sprayed is preferable, and may be 
used two days following surgery. Do not use wet spray or roll-on deodorants 
in the armpit areas for at least two weeks.  

You may shave the armpit areas beginning two days following surgery. As we 
explained to you preoperatively, the ridges formed by the incision lines will 
regress over a period of weeks as the skin stretches. Until this area 
flattens, you may shave over the ridges, but simply take reasonable care in 
these areas.  

You may experience some small lumps in the armpit area following surgery. 
These are small lymph nodes which will generally regress without any 
treatment over a period of 7-10 days. If you see redness spreading one half 
inch or more from the incision area or any drainage from the incisions, 
notify me. Light drainage for 24 hours is normal.  

If you are given a prescription for antibiotics following surgery, take the 
prescription until all the antibiotics are completed.  

most marked during the first 24 hours and regresses rapidly thereafter. 
Resumption of normal activities, for example, lifting the arms to comb the 
hair speeds the recovery process and reduces the pain more rapidly. 
Immobility tends to cause continued discomfort and increased muscle spasms. 

Call my office for an appointment to be seen within three days following 
surgery. At this time, my nurse or I will begin instructing you in motion 
exercises to maintain the pocket into which your breast implant has been 

Normally following this procedure, a small amount of fluid will accumulate 
within the pockets surrounding the breast implant. You may be able to feel or 
hear a slight slushing of the fluid as you move your implants. This fluid is 
reabsorbed by your body over a period of two to three weeks and is normal.  

Massive accumulation of fluid or blood within the pocket occurs very rarely 
(approximately 2 percent of the time) postoperatively and should this occur, 
your breasts would become extremely large, tight and painful, and you should 
notify us immediately.  

YOU MAY WEAR OR NOT WEAR A BRA AS YOU DESIRE. It is usually best to wait at 
least two to three weeks following surgery and try a number of different 
brands and shapes of bra cups in order to find one which is comfortable and 
fits best. During the first few weeks to months, stretching of the skin 
envelope in the lower part of the breast with change in contour will occur 
more rapidly if a bra is worn less. Nevertheless, whenever you are doing 
strenuous exercises, or desire wearing a bra, it will not in any way affect 
the result of your surgery.  

In the first few weeks following your procedure, your breasts may appear 
slightly full in the upper portions, with a slight outward (convex) curvature 
to the upper portions of the breasts. As explained preoperatively, this 
fullness regresses as the lower portion of the breast envelope stretches from 
the weight and gravitational effect on the implant over time. As the 
stretching in the lower portion of the breast is complete (up to six months), 
the upper pole profile of the breast becomes straight or slightly concave.  

Since discomfort from this procedure diminishes rapidly, pain medication 
should be necessary for a maximum of three to five days. Most patients 
usually require pain medications for only 24-48 hours.  

Should you develop any of the following signs or symptoms, please call our 
office: (a) elevation of temperature to or above 101 degrees, (b) extreme 
swelling or tenderness in either breast, (c) any prolonged or significant 
bleeding from incision lines (slight drainage for 24 hours is normal), and 
(d) redness along the incision lines or elevation of temperature in the 
breasts. A small amount of bruising may normally occur in the armpit area or 
beneath the breast, and may appear one to four days following your surgery. 
If bruising occurs, it subsides in one to two weeks.  

If you should have any other questions or problems, please contact my office.  


With any surgical procedure, a very small percentage of untoward 
complications can possibly occur. These complications are extremely rare, and 
I mention them not to alarm you, but to inform you.  

As we discussed previously, no two breasts even in the same patient are the 
same size or shape. Placing an implant changes the content of the skin 
envelope, but it does not change the shape or size of the envelope itself. 
Hence, size and shape differences will inevitably be present to some degree 
following surgery, just as they are present before surgery. I make every 
attempt to equalize the volume of the breasts, but due to differences in the 
size and shape of the skin envelope which I am not modifying, some 
differences always persist. These differences are usually quite subtle, and  
within the normal range of variation of breasts. 

Although in careful long-term follow-up of a large number of my patients, I 
have had no instance of total loss of nipple sensation, this loss is 
nevertheless remotely possible. With the transaxillary approach, it is 
distinctly less than with periareolar or inframammary approaches. Due to 
stretching of the breasts and nerves of the breasts, about one-third of my 
patients experience very subtle tingling sensations or pin-pricking type 
sensations on the outer- half of the breast, as well as on the inner aspect 
of the upper arm. A similar number (about one-third) of my patients notice a 
slight increase in nipple sensitivity for a few weeks following surgery. All 
of these effects are subtle, of no concern, and all subside spontaneously 
within a brief period.  

Whether you receive local anesthesia with sedative medications or general 
anesthesia, it is possible to have untoward side effect to any drug which is 
administered. Severe side effects are extremely rare, but can be life 
threatening. It is for this reason that we insist on performing your surgery 
in an optimal setting where all appropriate equipment and medical backup are 
available should you have an untoward reaction. Anesthesia or sedation risks 
are extremely minimal. Many have been vastly over-publicized by the media and 
most have occurred in settings where less than optimal facilities, equipment, 
and personnel are present.  

Although at the time of operation, I obviously stop all bleeding which is 
present, it is possible for additional bleeding to occur within the pocket 
following the procedure. This complication occurs in approximately 2 percent 
or less of cases, but may require returning to the operating room, removing 
stitches from your incisions, and removing blood which may have collected. If 
bleeding occurs, it most commonly happens in the first 48 hours following 
surgery, but may very rarely occur later. In my experience, it is in no way 
related to your activity, hence I do not limit your activity in any way 
following surgery.  

As with any surgical procedure, infection may occur following your 
augmentation, despite administration of antibiotics, and meticulous sterile 
technique during surgery. Fortunately, this complication occurs in less than 
1 percent of cases. If the pocket containing the implant becomes infected, 
the implant must be removed. It must be left out for approximately three 
months in order to allow all infection to subside, and then can be replaced. 
Although extremely rare, this complication is a significant nuisance to you. 
One implant may be in place while the other is removed for a period of time, 
requiring artificial filling of the brassiere cup on the affected side.  

Excessive firmness of the breast caused by pocket closure and/or capsular 
contracture may occur in up to 30 percent or more cases if motion exercises 
are not properly performed. Your total compliance with motion exercises 
reduces this risk of contracture to less than 5 percent, but it nevertheless 
can occur despite all efforts. Should contraction or excessive firmness 
occur, it may require open capsulotomy (opening the incision and releasing 
the contracture). I do not routinely perform closed capsulotomy (manually 
squeezing the implant to tear the capsule) due to the incidence of 
complications such as implant rupture, hematoma, and high recurrence. With 
closed capsulotomy or manual compression, the capsule may tear, but the 
pocket is never totally re-established, hence the breast can never be as 
normal as the opposite breast. If this firmness occurs, I basically must 
repeat your operation in order to achieve a satisfactory result, and this may 
require a second incision beneath the breast.  

All of the above-mentioned complications of augmentation mammaplasty are 
unusual, but occur occasionally despite the most vigorous standards of 
surgical practice. They are listed not to alarm, but simply to adequately 
inform you prior to your surgery.  


Augmentation mammaplasty is a reliable and rewarding procedure which enlarges 
and improves the appearance of the breasts in properly selected 
circumstances. In addition to a significant positive effect on the 
individual's self-image, patients often describe a feeling of increased self-
confidence and increased versatility in types of clothing which can be worn.  

In addition to the information contained here, during your consultation and 
examination we will review even more specific factors which pertain to your 
individual case. As you review this sheet, please write questions in the 
margins that we may answer during your consultation. 


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