Breast Auto Augmentation Surgery

Reviewed by Walter Erhardt, MD

Say the words "breast augmentation" and the first word that comes to mind will probably be "implants." But there is another option for women who want higher, fuller breasts without silicone implants or saline implants, and it's called breast auto augmentation.

As its name implies, breast auto augmentation relies on a woman's own tissue to enhance breast size and shape. The procedure combines breast augmentation with a breast lift (mastopexy) to correct such issues as breast sagging (ptosis), excess skin and depleted volume. (Breast augmentation alone cannot correct ptosis.) You may hear breast auto augmentation referred to as breast augmentation-mastopexy or breast lift with auto augmentation.

Are You a Candidate for Breast Auto Augmentation?

Is breast auto augmentation really a viable option? The answer depends on the candidate. While silicone and saline breast implants are generally considered the gold standard when it comes to breast augmentation, breast auto augmentation is certainly an option for some women.

If you are basically happy with your breast volume but would like to add a little fullness and lift — and you have adequate breast tissue to get you there — you may be a candidate for breast auto augmentation. First you need to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon who has experience performing this procedure.

During the consultation, the surgeon will evaluate several factors, including the degree of ptosis you are experiencing. Ptosis (pronounced "toe-sis") occurs naturally as women age and as a result of pregnancy, breastfeeding and massive weight loss from dieting or weight loss surgery. The degree of ptosis is determined by measuring the position of your nipple in relation to your inframammary crease, or the fold that forms where your breast meets the chest. Moderate to significant sagging accompanied by lost breast volume can be treated with breast auto augmentation.

Breast auto augmentation works best for women who have adequate breast volume to create the desired augmentation and projection. The procedure is often a good option for women whose breasts appear "deflated" following a significant weight loss. When the breast tissue is consolidated and lifted, there is often no need for a breast implant.

The surgeon will also discuss with you your feelings about breast implants. Today there are numerous types of implants that can be used to meet your breast enhancement goals. There are also several different incision and placement options to suit your needs. If you're interested in a very small increase in breast volume, fat grafting may be a better option than implants. But if you're looking to go up more than one cup in size and prefer not to use implants, you and your surgeon may want to consider breast auto augmentation.

As with all pre-surgical medical consultations, your surgeon will want to make sure that your physical and emotional health are good and that you're a viable candidate for surgery. He or she will ask questions about your medical history, previous surgeries and your experiences with anesthesia. If you have a chronic medical condition like diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular disease, be sure to mention it. Also tell your doctor about any supplements and medications (prescription and over-the-counter) that you take on a regular basis. Your overall health status can influence the outcome of your surgery.

Be honest about your reasons for wanting breast augmentation surgery and what you hope to accomplish. Openly discuss what you like and don't like about your breasts and how you hope to change them. Ask about the type of scars associated with breast auto augmentation, and decide if they are an acceptable tradeoff for the results you are seeking.

Then it's your surgeon's turn to give you feedback and help you make a decision based on sound medical practice and what will work best in your individual case. Communication is one of the keys to successful cosmetic plastic surgery, so keep those lines open.

Breast Auto Augmentation: How It's Performed

Breast auto augmentation is done as an outpatient procedure under light sleep sedation or general anesthesia. This procedure takes between two and four hours to perform.

The surgery typically begins with a modified "lollipop" incision, although your surgeon may have his or her own preference. The "lollipop" incision runs around the perimeter of the areola (colored area around the nipple) and vertically down the lower breast to the inframammary increase (the fold where your breasts meet your chest).

The surgeon then selects the breast tissue (gland) in the lower breast that will create the new volume in the upper breast and prepares it to be moved. Leaving the lower end of the gland attached to preserve the blood supply, the surgeon rotates the tissue to its new position in the upper pole of the breast (between the nipple and collar bone) and attaches it to the chest wall and surrounding upper breast tissue.

The final steps involve relocating the nipple and areola higher on the breast, removing any excess skin and closing the incision with sutures.

Auto Augmentation Recovery – After Surgery and Beyond

When you wake up from breast auto augmentation surgery, your breasts will be covered with gauze dressings and a supportive compression garment. Under all that, your breasts will be swollen and bruised, and there may be some drains to carry away excess fluids. As the anesthesia wears off, your vital signs will be monitored for several hours before you are allowed to go home. Arrange in advance for someone to drive or accompany you both to and from the procedure.

Discomfort and temporary numbness is to be expected in the first few days following surgery; rely on the pain medications and antibiotics prescribed by your surgeon to take the edge off and to keep infection at bay. If you experience any postsurgical issues that your surgeon did not tell you about (especially a temperature over 101 degrees, bleeding from the suture lines or uncontrollable pain or dizziness), get in touch with him or her immediately.

Surgical dressings are removed during your first postoperative appointment, usually a few days after surgery; drains may also come out during this visit. The stitches will dissolve on their own at a later date. Your surgeon will examine your breasts to see how they're healing. He or she will let you know when you can substitute a soft support bra for the compression garment.

To avoid complications, follow your surgeon's instructions regarding resumption of your normal activities, including when you can return to work and exercise. In general, you should avoid bending, lifting and straining for several weeks, so you may require some in-home assistance, particularly if you have young children. Sleep with your head and torso elevated on several pillows; some women find it more comfortable to sleep in a recliner. Get lots of rest and pamper yourself as much as possible to make the most of your recovery period.

Tenderness, bruising and swelling should disappear in about a month, but it may take up to six months to see the full effects of your surgery. Ask your surgeon about scar-minimizing products (sheeting or creams) and which products he or she recommends.

Breast Auto Augmentation Surgery Risks

There are a number of risks associated with breast augmentation surgery, including:

  • Anesthesia complications
  • Temporary numbness
  • Hematoma (a pooling of blood under the skin that may form a clot)
  • Seroma (collection of fluid under the skin)
  • Wound separation
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Asymmetry
  • Cosmetic dissatisfaction with the results.

Be sure to discuss the risks with your surgeon prior to surgery.

Breast Auto Augmentation Cost

You should ask your surgeon about breast auto augmentation cost prior to the procedure. The cost will include fees for your surgeon, anesthesia, and the facility where it is performed. These costs vary depending on your surgeon's experience, where you live, and other factors.

Generally, the cost of breast auto augmentation is roughly equivalent to that of a more traditional breast lift, which ranges from $3,500 to $6,000. Since this is considered an elective cosmetic surgery, medical insurance does not cover your expenses. Finance programs may be available, so ask your surgeon.