Breast augmentation (enlargement)

Breast augmentation (also referred to as ‘breast enlargement’ or occasionally ‘augmentation mammoplasty’) is a surgical procedure to permanently increase the size and enhance the shape of the breasts by the insertion of implants.

There are various approaches that surgeons can take with a breast augmentation, and you will be advised which is the most appropriate in your case. There are a wide variety of breast implants available and your surgeon will give you advice on the size, shape and type that will be right for you.

While many people are happy with the natural appearance of their breasts, others choose to use the services of a breast or plastic surgeon to help improve their appearance. Should you be considering this type of cosmetic surgery, it is sensible to talk through your thoughts and feelings with a competent medical professional and explain your reasons for wanting surgery. We would be very happy to arrange an initial appointment for you with a surgeon at your nearest Circle hospital, where you can discuss the potential surgical options available to you and ask any questions you have.

As you would expect, all Circle surgeons carrying out breast augmentation surgery are suitably qualified and registered with the appropriate professional and regulatory bodies. They would be delighted to meet with you to discuss the suitability of a breast augmentation for you, and to talk through the implications, things to be aware of and any alternative options available to you. Contact the team at Circle to arrange your appointment, at a time convenient to you.

There are a number of reasons why you might feel dissatisfied with the appearance of your breasts, and this can sometimes have a significant impact on your mental well-being, confidence and self-esteem. This may lead you to consider breast enlargement surgery. You may also be considering it to:

  • Alter the appearance of your breasts: this will usually be because you are not satisfied with the current appearance of your breasts.
  • Correct an imbalance in the size of your breasts: should your breasts be an uneven size or shape, either due to natural causes or as a result of previous breast surgery such as a mastectomy, you may choose to have an enlargement in order to give a more balanced appearance.
  • Restore the volume of your breasts: the overall volume of your breasts can sometimes be reduced after a significant weight reduction or pregnancy, and so you may decide to have breast enlargement surgery to restore your previous breast volume.

Whatever your reasons for considering breast enlargement surgery, it is important that you are aware of what can be achieved through surgery as well as what cannot be achieved. While a breast enlargement can improve the appearance of your breasts, it will not remove any other problems or challenges you may be experiencing in your life, whether physical or psychological. Having a good understanding of what can and can’t be achieved from a breast enlargement is vital before making a decision whether to have surgery, and you will have the opportunity to discuss the benefits of this form of surgery with a Circle consultant at your initial consultation. 

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure to permanently increase the size and enhance the shape of the breasts by the insertion of implants. Your implants can be positioned in one of two ways; either under the breast tissue or deeper behind the chest muscle on which the breast lies. Implants positioned under the breast tissues are often more comfortable, and they don’t involve damage to the muscles in the chest. Implants positioned deeper behind the muscle can give more volume to the breasts, and there is a lower risk of the implants becoming misshapen over time.

The placement of the implant will determine the final size and appearance of your breasts. Your surgeon will advise which is the most appropriate positioning in your case, and this will depend upon the current position and size of your breasts as well.

Your breast implants will be inserted through an incision made in one of three places:

  • In the crease under the breast (the most common technique). This is referred to as an inframammary incision,
  • Around the lower edge of the nipple. This is referred as a periareolar incision,
  • In the armpit. This is referred to as an axillary incision.

Once surgery is complete, the incision is closed with dissolving sutures to aid with healing. Dressings will be applied over the wounds to protect them and prevent infection.

The operation normally takes between 60 and 90 minutes, but the exact timings will vary for every individual.

There are two types of implants available in the UK, silicon and saline. Saline solution implants are more likely to rupture and may feel less natural than silicone implants.

Silicone gel implants are the most commonly used type in the UK, and the ones we use at Circle are silicone gel breast implants made by Mentor. Manufactured to the highest standards, Mentor implants have a lifelong warranty against rupture or leak. Silicone gel implants can often feel more natural than saline implants.

There are a wide variety of breast implants available and your Circle surgeon will be able to give you their expert advice on the size, shape and type that will be right for you.

Before undergoing any cosmetic surgery, it is important to consider all other options and ensure your decision to have surgery has been sufficiently thought out. For this reason, your consultant will generally recommend waiting a few weeks between your initial appointment and your surgery, in order to give you ample time to do all the research you need, letting you make the best decision for you.

For your surgery to go ahead, you should ensure you are in good physical and mental health. Undertaking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and being at a healthy weight can all play an important role in the results of your breast augmentation and your recovery afterwards. Your GP will be able to assist you if you are struggling in any of these areas, so do contact them if you feel you would benefit from expert help and support.

We always advise smokers to stop smoking several weeks beforehand, as smoking can increase the risk of complications and slow down the rate of recovery from surgery. While we appreciate that this can be challenging, nicotine in cigarettes causes your blood vessels to tighten, which means the supply of blood and oxygen to the affected tissues is restricted. This can prevent your body from healing itself at the expected rate.

If applicable, you may also be advised to stop taking the contraceptive pill four-six weeks prior to your operation, as doing so reduces your risk of developing a blood clot.

If you are planning a pregnancy in the near future, your surgeon may suggest postponing any surgery until a later date, as any changes to your body caused by the pregnancy may affect the outcome of your breast augmentation. It may also affect your ability to breastfeed.


When considering breast augmentation, expert guidance and help should be sought. We recommend you locate your most convenient Circle hospital, as this will usually determine the breast or plastic surgeon you decide you would like to carry out your augmentation. With hospitals in Bath, Reading, and Birmingham, we are well positioned around the country, and whichever Circle hospital and surgeon you choose, your surgery will be carried out efficiently, safely, and competently by a specialist in the field.

Cosmetic breast surgery at Circle is provided by our dedicated team of specialist consultant surgeons, all of whom are members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).

Before surgery, you will meet with your chosen specialist to discuss your hopes and expectations with them.

Your initial consultation will be held in one of our comfortable, modern consultation rooms. This preliminary discussion will be key in helping you and your surgeon make an informed decision on how best to proceed. They will be able to provide you with an expert, non-judgemental and compassionate platform to talk openly and honestly about your aims and goals for breast augmentation surgery, discussing the reasons you are considering it. They will help you understand what is achievable through surgery alone.

Your initial consultation will begin with an introductory conversation with a breast or plastic surgeon, to help them fully understand your hopes and expectations. It is important to be honest with your surgeon at this stage about what you hope to gain from your breast augmentation and how you want to look once the procedure is complete. Depending on this consultation, it is possible that your surgeon will advise you against surgery if it is not deemed necessary or appropriate for you. There may be alternatives to surgery that they will be able to recommend for you instead.

Should breast augmentation be deemed appropriate for you, the consultant will conduct a thorough physical examination of your breasts and chest. This will include a technical assessment of the underlying bone structure, muscles and soft tissue beneath the skin, all of which help to determine what surgical approach will be best for your breast augmentation. It also allows your surgeon to highlight any potential problem areas. Every person is different, and your surgeon will be looking to tailor their surgical approach to your specific needs, taking into account the unique qualities, shape and structure of your breasts and chest anatomy.

You will also be asked for your medical history, particularly in relation to your breasts and chest, covering areas such as:

  • Allergies,
  • Trauma or injury to your breasts or chest in the past,
  • Any breathing difficulties you may have experienced,
  • Drug use.

At this point, your surgeon will often take photos of your chest area from different angles. These are used as references in planning for surgery and during the surgery itself. They also give you a way of comparing the “before” and “after” appearance of your breasts once surgery is completed.

The aim of the meeting with your consultant is to help them assess your individual condition and to decide on the most suitable type of breast augmentation for you. It also provides you the opportunity to discuss your needs, goals and intended outcomes for surgery with them. You can also ask any questions you have about the procedure or your recovery, and your surgeon can help ease any concerns that may have arisen along the way.

Typical questions you may find yourself asking include:

  • How long will the surgery take?
  • What happens after my breast augmentation?
  • What aftercare do you offer?
  • How long should I expect my recovery to take?
  • What anaesthetic will you be using?
  • What happens if I am not happy with the result of my breast augmentation surgery?
  • What level of pain can I expect after my operation?

No concern or question is too small; cosmetic surgery is a big undertaking, and all our consultants appreciate that patients may be understandably apprehensive before the operation.

In advance of your surgery, your Circle hospital will ask you to complete a pre-admission health questionnaire. This information helps assist us in planning your individual care, taking into account your medical history and any previous hospital treatment you have received.

You will be contacted to arrange an appointment for a Pre-operative Assessment with the Cosmetic Surgery Specialist Nurse. At this appointment, we will carry out appropriate tests (e.g. blood test) and discuss your patient journey. This is an ideal opportunity for you to raise any new concerns or questions you may have, and we recommend you take advantage of this time by talking with the nurse about your procedure.

If you take regular medication, please continue to take it unless your surgeon or anaesthetist specifically advises otherwise. If you are unsure about taking any medication, please contact the Cosmetic Surgery Specialist Nurse beforehand to check with them. As with any surgical procedure, there is no “silly” question to ask beforehand; we would much rather you ask lots of questions so that your mind is fully at ease leading up to your breast augmentation. 

Before arriving for your breast augmentation, we recommend you:

  • Take a bath or shower at home on the day of your admission.
  • Remove any make-up, nail varnish and jewellery. Rings that you prefer to not remove can be covered.
  • Follow the fasting instructions detailed in your admission letter – generally, this advises you not to eat for 6 hours and not to drink for 2 hours prior to your admission but do check your letter for precise details.

When you arrive at Circle, you will be shown to our Surgery Unit where the nursing staff will prepare you for your surgery. You will be provided with a theatre gown, dressing gown, and slippers for your use, and you may be asked to wear support stockings to help maintain the blood flow in your legs.

Your surgeon will visit you before the surgery in order to carry out pre-operative skin marking to highlight the correct areas for incision. They will also ask you to sign a consent form. By signing this form, you are giving your permission for the breast augmentation surgery to go ahead and confirming that you are aware of the possible risks and complications.

You will also be seen beforehand by an anaesthetist. They are responsible for administering your general anaesthetic and monitoring you closely throughout the surgery, so they will visit with you before your surgery to introduce themselves and to run through their pre-anaesthetic checks with you in order to ensure your suitability for the anaesthetic. 

Your Cosmetic Surgery Specialist Nurse will also visit with you, and they will be there to help you with your aftercare.

Breast augmentation typically takes between 60 to 90 minutes, but this will vary depending on the surgical approach used, and if the surgery is being combined with another type of cosmetic surgery at the same time (for example, a breast uplift, also known as a ‘mastopexy’).

Once your breast augmentation is completed, you will be taken from the operating theatre into the Recovery Suite. Specially-trained theatre staff will monitor you and look after until you are fully awake following the anaesthetic.

Once you are fully conscious, and the staff are happy with your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation levels etc.), you will be taken back by a porter and nursing staff to your private room to rest and begin to recovery in a peaceful, quiet environment. You will probably spend quite a bit of time sleeping, as your body recovers from the effects of the anaesthetic and the surgery. 

Throughout the day, Circle nursing staff will check your dressings and monitor your pulse, blood pressure and heart rate at regular intervals to ensure you are well and that your recovery is proceeding as expected. We appreciate that sometimes surgery can be an unnerving experience, and should you have any concerns at any time, day or night, you can simply press a button to call one of the nurses to your room. 

Your chest will feel sore or achy and you may feel drowsy from the anaesthetic. These are all perfectly normal following a breast augmentation, and your anaesthetist will usually prescribe painkillers for you to take regularly for the first week or so. Pain can slow down your recovery, so it is important to discuss any discomfort you experience with nursing staff.

You may have drainage tubes under the skin of the breasts – these will have small bottles attached to them and are in place to help drain away any excess fluid caused by the surgery. These will be removed before you are discharged home. There may also be a drip in one of your arms to help keep you well hydrated.  Sometimes after an anaesthetic and an operation you will not feel like drinking much, so the IV drip is our way of ensuring you are suitably hydrated. Once you are able to drink an adequate amount of fluid, this drip will be removed

You will also have dressings in place on your wounds, as well as a supportive sports-style bra (non-underwired) in place to help reduce swelling and bruising following your breast augmentation, and to aid and promote healing and recovery. The dressings will be regularly checked by your Circle nurse and replaced as and when needed.

Until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed, you will need to rest. Rest is vital to the recovery process. You will be visited by your surgeon who will assess your progress and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Providing you are not feeling sick you may start to drink and eat when you feel ready. Your Circle nursing staff will help ensure you have food when you feel like it. They will also give you advice on getting out of bed safely, personal hygiene, and diet. Sitting and sleeping upright (with extra pillows) for the first few nights can help to reduce any swelling in your chest, and you should have someone with you who can help look after you and make sure you don’t over-exert yourself once you’ve been discharged home from hospital.

You will be required to stay in hospital for one night to ensure everything is healing as expected. Once you have been discharged home, you will still need time to recover from the surgery, so it is important that you have planned additional time off work during this healing and recovery phase. The exact time you will need off work will vary depending on many factors, including the extent of your breast augmentation surgery and the job you do, and your surgeon will be able to give you more specific advice and guidance.


Recovery times for a breast augmentation can vary significantly, depending on a number of factors:

  • the surgical approach taken,
  • whether or not there were any complications,
  • your general health and the health of your body’s immune system,
  • how much you adhere to post-operative care guidelines.

After breast augmentation you are likely to have some pain/discomfort, swelling and bruising in your breasts. This will be temporary and should subside after the first few weeks. It may take several months for the shape of your breasts to fully settle.

Your surgeon will advise you as to how long you are required to wear your supportive bra and whether it is to be worn day and night. You must avoid wearing an under-wired bra until you are informed otherwise. You must avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, swimming and vacuuming for four to six weeks after surgery. You should only resume driving when you are confident that you can safely perform an emergency stop without experiencing discomfort.

The length of time you will need to take off work will depend on your type of employment but is usually one to two weeks.

Continue to take painkillers if you feel you need them. A general anaesthetic can affect your co-ordination and reasoning skills, so you should avoid operating machinery, drinking alcohol or signing legal documents for 48 hours.

It is normal for bruising to be visible on your chest for a couple of weeks after a breast augmentation, and it may take up to nine months for you to see the full benefit of the surgery. You will need to avoid getting your dressings wet until they are removed at your post-operative appointment.

You will usually be advised to sleep on a couple of pillows for the first few days after surgery. This keeps your body propped up higher than normal, which can help to reduce excess swelling in your chest.

You will receive a post-operative telephone call from the cosmetic surgery nurse one or two days after your discharge home to ascertain your progress and well-being. Should you have any queries or concerns, you will of course be able to discuss these with the nurse during the phone call.

At your post-operative follow-up appointment your surgeon will assess your progress and give advice on when you can resume your normal activities. 

After breast augmentation, you are likely to have some discomfort, swelling, bruising, hardness and pain/twinges in the breasts. These are temporary and should subside after the first few weeks.

It may take several months for the shape of your breast to fully settle. It is not possible to guarantee an exact cup size, but your surgeon will discuss this with you pre-operatively.

Breast augmentation is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure. However, all surgery carries an element of risk.

General risks: Possible complications of any surgery can include:

  • an unexpected reaction to a general anaesthetic
  • excessive bleeding
  • developing a blood clot (usually in a vein in the lower leg, known as a DVT - deep vein thrombosis)

Specific risks following a breast augmentation:

  • You will be left with visible scars following your surgery. Initially they will be red and slightly raised but will gradually soften and fade over the following months. A small number of patients can develop thick, red and painful scars that may take some time to improve.
  • Occasionally, bleeding under the skin causes further swelling and pain - this is known as a haematoma. In rare cases further surgery is required to remove the haematoma and to stop the bleeding.
  • Some patients experience changes in sensation in different parts of the breast including the nipple - these areas may become more or less sensitive than before. These changes are temporary but can last up to six months. Occasionally, numbness can be permanent.
  • Capsular Contracture is a potential complication - this is when a layer of scar tissue forms around the implant causing the breast to feel hard. The implant may need to be removed and replaced.
  • Some implants can block X-rays during a mammogram, so you should always tell the radiographer that you have breast implants so that alternative mammogram images can be performed.

Should you need to return to surgery due to any complications, you will be covered under our fixed priced surgical package for 6 months.

If you are concerned about these risks and complications, feel free to discuss them with your Circle Health consultant, who will be able to answer any of your questions and determine which of the risks you may be more susceptible to. It is vital that you are aware of all the potential risks of surgery before undergoing any procedure, and your consultant will want to help you feel at ease beforehand by clearing up any queries you may have, and helping you to weigh up the risks against all the possible benefits you face from having a  breast augmentation.

It is important to bear in mind that a breast augmentation can improve the appearance of your breasts, but your appearance will continue to change in the future due to the aging process.


At Circle Health, a breast augmentation starts from £5,310. This comes with the reassurance that you are being treated by medical professionals with extensive experience, fully qualified and in line with all the relevant guidelines and accreditations, alongside a multi-disciplinary team at one of our modern Circle hospitals.

Exact pricing varies depends on a number of factors and we are always fully transparent with our pricing. Please do contact us for a bespoke quotation. For your reassurance, you will always receive a written fixed price quote from us before being admitted for any treatment.

Having cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision. Circle offer a range of cosmetic treatments for men and women, both surgical and non-surgical. Having a consultation with a suitably qualified plastic surgeon will help you to really understand your motivations and expectations, in order to arrive at the best solution for you. In some situations, our Circle specialists may advise you against having cosmetic surgery when it is not appropriate or medically justified, so it is important to be open and honest when discussing your options with them. There are a number of reasons a doctor may advise you not to have a breast augmentation, including:

  • Childbirth: If you become pregnant following breast augmentation surgery, the size and shape of your breasts may be significantly affected after childbirth.
  • Weight gain/loss: rapid weight gain and/or loss affects the size of your breasts. Much as a balloon that is inflated and deflated a number of times will become looser, the skin around breasts can become less tight through a cycle of weight gain and loss. Should this occur, the physical benefits of a breast augmentation may not be as obvious.

Understandably, everybody is different and has their own desires, opinions and thoughts that are important to them. Before making any decisions, it is advised that you seek independent professional medical advice, such as from your local GP.

When considering any type of cosmetic or plastic surgery, it is important to be aware of what can and cannot be achieved. You should allow yourself plenty of time to think the implications of surgery through carefully, and that is why we always recommend that you meet with one of our breast or plastic surgeons to discuss the possibility of surgery in more detail. They will be able to talk you through the potential benefits of surgery, explain the procedure so that you know what it involves, and detail the possible risks of having this surgery. They will also be able to tell you about any suitable alternatives to surgery that you may like to consider instead as well as answer any questions you may have.

Choosing to have a breast augmentation is a big decision and one that should only be made once you have all the relevant information. Please contact us to arrange an appointment at a time of your convenience at your nearest Circle hospital.    

At Circle, we aim to meet and then exceed the expectations of all our patients. When you choose to have your breast augmentation carried out with us, you will benefit from:

  • No waiting lists: with no waiting lists, we can arrange your initial consultation with a doctor, and any further follow-up appointments or diagnostic tests, promptly.
  • Our luxurious facilities: every Circle hospital has been purpose-built, with input from our consultants to ensure we are able to provide the highest quality of care, in first-class surroundings.
  • Our multidisciplinary cosmetic surgery team: we have built a strong and diverse team of like-minded healthcare professionals working in our cosmetic surgery units. Their vast amount of shared experience means you will always receive high quality help, treatment, guidance and support possible when having your breast augmentation with us. Every member of the Circle staff is ready to assist with anything you may require.
  • The depth of our expertise in cosmetic surgery: all our cosmetic surgeons are members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), reassurance that you will always receive treatment from a suitably qualified surgeon.

At Circle Health, we offer fast access to a number of modern hospitals across the UK, all featuring state-of-the-art facilities, technologies and diagnostic equipment. It is easy to book an appointment with one of our cosmetic surgeons at a time that is convenient for you.

We always advise you talk with one of our Circle consultants face to face if you are considering a breast augmentation. This gives you the perfect opportunity to discuss all the benefits a breast augmentation can provide, while addressing any worries or concerns you may have at the same time.

If you are considering a breast augmentation, or would like to discuss alternative potential cosmetic surgery options with a suitably qualified and nationally registered breast or plastic surgeon, why not book an appointment at your nearest Circle hospital? Our staff will be able to talk you through the options, advise you of the different procedures available to you, and answer any questions or concerns you may have about the surgery.

Contact the friendly team at Circle to arrange an initial consultation that fits with your schedule. We have no waiting lists so can quickly arrange a convenient appointment for you with one of our dedicated cosmetic surgeons. Take that first step towards a boosted self-confidence today.

*The information on this webpage is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Before any cosmetic surgery, it is important you seek guidance and advice from a qualified medical professional, such as your GP.

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