The stigma surrounding breast augmentation, and plastic surgery in general, is steadily decreasing in pop culture as many of our beloved celebrities have come out in the open about having gone under the knife.
Breast augmentation procedures are some of the most popular form of plastic surgery. While technology for this procedure has progressed leaps and bounds in the last decade or so, we’re willing to bet that many of us still imagine it as how it used to be back in the 90’s, when saline bag implants were still being widely used.
We know that South Korea is at the forefront of plastic surgery technology, so it only made sense for us to ask a South Korean plastic surgeon about the considerations around breast augmentation that people don’t quite know about yet.
We approached Dr. Yim Joonghyuk from TL Plastic Surgery, who is one of the leading experts in mammoplasty, and learnt these 7 lesser-known details about breast augmentation from him.
1. The shape of your breasts may determine the shape of your implants
When we think about breast implants, we often focus solely on how we want the end result to look like. In fact, the shape and size of your breasts will play a big part in determining the shape of your implants.
To sum up the recommendations above which we got from TL Plastic Surgery:
- If the distance between your nipple and under-breast line is moderate and the size of each breast is moderate, go for the round implants.
- If the distance between your nipple and under-breast line is short and the breast skin is tighter, get the tear-drop implants.
The shape of these implants also play a huge part in how the breast will look like after the surgery.
Round implants may look fuller but they also tend to look more artificially pushed up. However, if the implant should flip or turn inside the body, the shape of the breasts will still stay the same.
Tear-drop implants mimic the natural breast shape and are the most natural-looking options for implants. However, because of its more irregular shape, tear-drop implants may flip or turn, which may leave the breast looking misshapen.
2. Not all breast implants are created equal!
After deciding on the shape of implants that best suit your body, you then have to pick what kind of implant you want.
An implant can either be cohesive gel or a saline bag. Previously, saline bags were the only option for breast implants, but usage of the newer cohesive gel type implants are now on the rise.
Approved by the U.S. FDA and the Korean FDA, the cohesive gel implant is now the most popular type of implant due to its soft texture and more natural look.
Saline bags tend to be less durable and may require additional breast revisional surgery in the future, but the size of the implants are easily adjustable so the size of the incision can be minimised.
Another aspect of breast implants that you probably don’t know about is the surface texture. Micro-textured breast implants, a.k.a the next generation breast implants, are the most popular choice nowadays because it gives natural movement like your own breast in any position or posture. It’s also the softest type available now in the market.
3. How different breast augmentation procedures impact your lifestyle
There also isn’t a one-size-fits-all surgery for breast augmentation, so know your options and how they’ll impact your post-surgical care in different ways.
There are three different types of incisions:
- Transaxillary incision (under the armpit): The cut is along the axillary natural skin crease and it won’t affect the function of the breast tissue
- Inframammary incision (under the breast): The doctor is able to directly see the tissue where he will be inserting the implant, and this incision gives faster recovery
- Areola incision (around the nipple): The incision scar can be easily hidden and you can also reduce the size of the areola at the same time if this is a concern for you
Where the doctor places the implants are also something you need to consider, as it may impact the end result and the functionality of the breast tissue:
- If the implant is placed under the muscle, there is no contact between implant and breast tissue so it will not affect the function of the breast tissue
- If the implant is placed between the muscle and tissue, it can be effective in correcting saggy breasts
- Placing the implant directly under the mammary glands is pretty uncommon and usually only recommended to those with big preexisting breast tissue
4. Getting breast augmentation surgery done in South Korea
We all know that South Korea is at the forefront of plastic surgery technology and knowledge, so it’s not surprising that the country attracts many foreign visitors who go there specifically for that purpose.
TL Plastic Surgery saw more than 100 international patients doing breast augmentation surgery with their in-house breast augmentation surgeon Dr. Yim Joonghyuk in 2017. Those of Asian ethnicity made up the highest percentage of these patients.
Other than breast augmentation, both local and foreign patients also went to TL Plastic Surgery to do revisional breast surgery, breast lifting, amongst other procedures.
Many plastic surgery clinics in South Korea, like TL Plastic Surgery, have an Overseas Patient Service to bring you some much-needed comfort while you’re undergoing plastic surgery in a foreign country.
This entails an airport transfer arranged by the clinic which will drop you off at the hotel, hotel booking (but you’ll have to pay the hotel fees yourself), and escorting you back to the airport for your flight back.
TL Plastic Surgery also recommends that foreign patients plan for a stay of at least a week, if not slightly longer, to make time for their recuperation period after the surgery.
The breast augmentation surgery at TL Plastic Surgery can cost between KRW 7,500,000 (approx SGD 9,225) to KRW 11,000,000 (approx SGD13,530), depending on the type of procedure and the implants you choose.
5. What to expect in your first week after the breast augmentation surgery
Plastic surgery is becoming generally more common and more openly discussed than it has been in previous years, but let’s not forget that it’s still an invasive surgery that requires proper care to be taken while you’re recovering after the surgery.
In fact, TL Plastic Surgery says that “recovery after the surgery is as important as the surgery” itself.
The week following the surgery is the most important for recovery. Patients are to move their arms as slowly as possible and avoid sudden jerky movements. This is because the implants are placed in relation to the muscles in your upper body which govern these types of movements, so these actions may cause the implant to shift places unexpectedly.
In South Korea, doing the transaxiliary and inframammary incisions for your breast augmentation surgery will not require stitches. Instead, they use something called the Derma Bond to close the incision site.
Unlike regular stitches, Derma Bond doesn’t have to be taken out at the clinic. It naturally falls out as time goes by, so you don’t have to worry about it anymore after the surgery.
Patients are able to take showers two to three days after surgery, while taking care to disinfect the incision site regularly and not to rub it too hard.
Because you generally have to restrict forceful arm movements for the one week after your surgery, it’s recommended that you take the whole week off and recuperate in your hotel room in South Korea, rather than taking a flight back immediately after.
5. The breast implants can last for more than a decade
The longevity is where the cohesive gel implants really shine in comparison to the older saline bag types.
Cohesive gel came into mainstream use for breast augmentation almost ten years ago now, and has since overtaken saline bag in terms of popularity. Saline bag implants often distorts and its volume may decrease over time, which means the breast shape can also change, causing patients to have to go for revisional breast surgery to change the implants.
Cohesive gel, which is silicone-based, is a lot more durable, which also means that they rarely change shape. There isn’t a set period in which you would need to change your cohesive gel implants.
In fact, TL Plastic Surgery tells us that if a patient chooses the correct implant based on their body characteristics, and if there is no unforeseen side effects, cohesive gel implants can be maintained for more than ten years with no problems.
As we’ve mentioned, cohesive gel implants rarely change shape, so if there are any changes in the breast shape over the duration a patient has had them, it’s more likely due to changes in the patient’s weight or body shape which could look like a change in volume of the breast implant.
6. You have to get it checked every 2 to 3 years
Getting a breast implant generally does not cause any long-term side effects or adverse effects to a patient’s health, according to TL Plastic Surgery.
The only thing you have to watch out for is capsular contracture, in which case the implant may feel abnormally hard, or if there is a rupture. Implant ruptures are very rare cases, but if this happens, the patient will have to get the implant removed immediately as this may cause infections if left untreated.
It is important also for patients to check their breast with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound every two to three years just to make sure that the implant is still in place and has not ruptured.
7. How breast augmentation affects breastfeeding
If you plan to get pregnant in the future, would breast augmentation and implants affect your breastfeeding? This is understandably a very pertinent concern for most women who are considering the surgery.
Dr. Yim from TL Plastic Surgery allays these concerns, stating that it is possible to breastfeed even after breast augmentation. All of the three possible implant placement positions (whether it’s underneath the muscle, over it, or between the muscle and tissue) do not affect breastfeeding in women.
Since breast augmentation surgeries are conducted under general anaesthesia, Dr. Yim also recommends buffering at least six months after the surgery before beginning to try for a child.
What if you’ve already given birth and would like to get breast augmentation done? TL Plastic Surgery recommends only going for the breast augmentation at least six months after you’ve completely stopped breastfeeding.
Who we consulted for this article
We had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with Dr. Yim Joonghyuk, director of TL Plastic Surgery in South Korea. Dr. Yim is a highly renowned expert in plastic surgery with over 20 years of experience in his specialty, having been invited to lecture numerous academic symposiums on surgical prosthetics both at home and abroad.
Dr. Yim oversees all procedures regarding breast augmentation in TL Plastic Surgery, from pre-operation consultations done face-to-face in his clinic, the actual surgery, and also any follow-ups after the operation.
With his experience and knowledge, Dr. Yim is able to intuitively deduce what size and shape would best suit each patient’s unique body shape, and he’s also able to solve other concerns simultaneously, such as reduction of areola size.
To assist his professional recommendations, Dr. Yim meticulously looks at each patient’s day-to-day lifestyle, habits, their chest size, the shape of their thorax and their breasts. He is able to pinpoint asymmetry of the body that most patients aren’t able to see for themselves, and thus he is able to select the best surgical approach and the best type and size of implants suitable for each individual.
Dr. Yim practices with TL Plastic Surgery Korea, established in Seoul in 2008 and located in the famous, high-end Gangnam region. The clinic provides highly differentiated medical services with their team of specialists who boast a vast abundance of clinical experience in their respective area of specialisation.