Three Steps to a Successful Breast Augmentation Consultation

Reviewed by Walter Erhardt, MD

Have you long desired breast augmentation to enhance your appearance? Perhaps aging and pregnancy have changed the shape and size of your breasts and you are no longer satisfied with how they look. Either way, breast augmentation (with or without a breast lift) may be appropriate.

Follow these three steps and increase your likelihood of a successful breast enhancement consultation.

Step 1

Find a board-certified plastic surgeon

Interview as many plastic surgeons as you like until you find one that you "click" with. It's important to have a good rapport with your chosen surgeon. Make sure he or she listens and understands what you want out of your breast surgery.

Your chosen surgeon should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This will ensure that he or she is well-versed in the latest and greatest aesthetic materials and methods. Discuss the surgeon's education, training, hospital privileges and number of breast enhancement procedures performed. You can also contact your state's medical board to find out if there are pending malpractice judgments and/or disciplinary actions against the surgeon.

Ask to see breast augmentation before and after photos when choosing a surgeon. When looking at these photos, evaluate them with a critical eye. First and foremost, make sure the breasts are symmetrical. Remember that these photos reflect the doctor's best results. If you have questions or concerns regarding these photos, ask about them.

Start your search for the right surgeon now.

Step 2

The initial examination

During the consultation, your surgeon will examine your breasts. Some surgeons take "before" photographs during this visit. Your surgeon will also analyze the size and shape of your breasts, their skin quality and the placement of your nipples and areolas (the darker pigmented skin surrounding the nipples). The surgeon will make suggestions based on these features. If there is anything else that you want changed, speak up. A frank, open discussion will help your surgeon better understand and satisfy your expectations.

Your surgeon should also take a full medical history during this visit. This information will help determine if you are a candidate for breast augmentation. Tell your surgeon about any pre-existing medical conditions, drug allergies and previous surgeries. He or she also needs to know about all medications that you take, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements.

Your surgeon will ask if you have a family history of breast cancer. Breast enhancement does not increase the risk of breast cancer, but there is some evidence that breast implants may make it more difficult to take and read mammograms or breast X-rays. (If you are at high risk for breast cancer, your surgeon may suggest placing the implants under the pectoral muscle instead of on top. Some research suggests that such placement may be less likely to interfere with your mammogram.)

Another thing to mention during your consultation is whether or not you are currently at your ideal weight. If you are dieting or plan to lose weight, delay your plastic surgery until you are at a stable weight. Also tell your doctor if you plan to have more children. Pregnancy can change your breast shape, so it may be a good idea to wait until after your childbearing years.

Step 3

Your game plan

You should leave this visit with a game plan for your breast augmentation. You should know the size and type of implants, the location of incisions and whether your implants will be placed on top of or underneath the pectoral muscles. Incisions can either be inframammary (under the breast), periareolar (around the nipple), transaxillary (in the armpit region) or transumbilical (through the belly button).

You should have a choice regarding the type of implant used in your breast surgery. If a surgeon only offers one type of implant (silicone breast implant or saline breast implant) from one company, seek other opinions to better understand all of your options.

You should also know if you will be having a breast lift in conjunction with augmentation. Your surgeon can explain the risks of the surgery and your expected recovery process. This is a lot of information to absorb. It may help to write it down or bring a companion with you to the visit.

Consultations can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours, depending on how much time the surgeon allots, the extent of the surgery and how many questions you ask. You should never feel rushed during this important visit.