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The Body: Breast

Breast Enlargement

What You Need to Know About Breast Enlargement

Breast augmentation, or augmentation mammoplasty, is one of the most common and popular Singapore cosmetic surgery. Usually done to aesthetically improve the size, shape and symmetry of the breasts, this procedure is also performed to reconstruct the breast following significant weight loss, pregnancy, or operations such as mastectomy or lumpectomy.

Why Undergo Breast Augmentation

Reasons to undergo breast augmentation are purely personal and vary from patient to patient. Most women have this surgery to boost their image and self-esteem, while for others, it is a means to address conditions like asymmetrical breasts, micromastia and other congential chest deformities.

For those with or who’ve had breast cancer treatments such as mastectomy (removal of the breast) or lumpectomy (removal of breast tissue), breast augmentation can be performed to reconstruct the affected breast. Reconstructive breast surgery is also common for women who want to regain their figures after pregnancy or weight loss.

What Are Breast Implants?

Breast enlargement is typically achieved by surgically inserting breast implants under the mammary gland or chest muscle through incisions made on the breasts (areola region) or armpits. There are two types of breast implants, each with its pros and cons:

Saline implants have a consistency similar to water. With this type, an empty or pre-filled silicone shell is inserted into the breast, then filled with saline (saltwater) solution up to the desired size. If a saline implant breaks or leaks, it will deflate quickly, and the shell will need to be surgically removed or replaced. The body will absorb the sterile saline solution without posing any health risks.

Silicone implants have a viscous and cohesive texture much more similar to the breast’s natural look and feel. This type uses a silicone shell filled with silicone gel. Most ruptures do not show any symptoms, and the leakage is very slow, usually taking several years before effects become noticeable. However, a ruptured silicone implant should be removed immediately to prevent health problems.

The choice on whether to use saline or silicone breast implants rests largely on the patient’s preference.

Types of Breast Enlargement Procedure

Breast enlargement can be done in two ways: breast implants or fat transfer.

Breast implants involve surgically placing a silicone shell within the breast, which is then filled up to the desired size with either sterile saline solution or silicone gel. Implants come in various shapes, sizes and textures; and which type of implant to use is up to the patient.

Another method of breast enlargement is fat transfer, in which fat cells are harvested from other body parts such as the abdomen or thighs, get processed and purified, and are then injected into the breast. This procedure is less invasive and virtually scar-less, but the amount of enlargement is limited, allowing for only a half to one cup increase. It is also more expensive because it requires two procedures: liposuction and fat transfer.

Breast fillers are technically another method used for breast augmentation. However, these are prohibited in Singapore because of their proven harmful effects on the body, which include infections, cyst development and mastitis.

Post-Surgery Recovery

Breast augmentation involving both implants and fat transfer are done in an outpatient setting, though some may need to stay at the hospital or clinic for a few more hours or even overnight for monitoring.

Following the surgery, patients with breast implants will normally experience bruising and swelling as the area begins to heal and adjust to the implants. Over-the-counter and prescribed painkillers and antibiotics can be taken to ease discomfort and prevent infections. Post-surgery instructions on how to further care for the treated area at home are also given. Follow-up appointments are usually scheduled at 2-week, 6-week and 3-month intervals.

During recovery, the patient will need to wear a surgical bra or an elastic band 24/7 or as instructed by the surgeon, to add support to the breasts. Ointments and bandages may be used to speed up the healing process. At this time the patient is also advised to refrain from physical activities, especially lifting heavy objects.

Breast enlargement using the fat transfer method, meanwhile, is less invasive and has a quicker recovery period because of the smaller incisions. Similar to implants, there is initial swelling, bruising and tenderness around the treated areas after the procedure, but should subside within a couple of weeks. Over-the-counter medicines and mild prescriptions may be taken to relieve pain. While many women can immediately return to work a week after the treatment, strenuous activities should still be avoided for the first three weeks. Follow-up appointments are scheduled at 1-week, 3- or 6-month and 1-year intervals.

The effects of both implants and fat grafting are not permanent. They need to be replaced or maintained every few years.

Risks & Complication

While breast augmentation is generally known to be an established and safe treatment, it still carries certain risks and possible side-effects, which include:

  • breast pain
  • capsular contracture (formation of scar tissue that distorts breast implant shape)
  • changes in breast and nipple sensations
  • implant rupture or leakage
  • peri-operative bleeding during fat transfer
  • blood clotting at the treatment site
  • infection
Some of these complications may require further surgery to treat, or in the case of implants, their removal or replacement.

However, in the hands of a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon, breast augmentation can yield very aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting results. Contact Dr Leslie Kuek for a detailed consultation today at 6472 2972.