Breast enlargement

We offer breast enlargement using a variety of silicone or saline implants to suit your desired shape and size.

Sometimes also called

  • Breast augmentation
  • Breast enhancement
  • Breast implants
  • Boob job

At a glance

  • Typical hospital stay
    Same-day discharge or 1 night

  • Procedure duration
    60-90 minutes

  • Type of anaesthetic

  • Available to self-pay?

  • Covered by health insurance?

Why Spire?

  • Fast access to treatment when you need it
  • Consultants who are experts in their field
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost
  • 98% of our patients are likely to recommend us to their family and friends

By Wallace Health I Medically reviewed by Adrian Roberts.
Page last reviewed: October 2018 I Next review due: October 2021

What is breast enlargement surgery?

It’s an operation to make your breasts larger by inserting an implant – made of either silicone or saline – under your breast tissue or your chest muscles. It can also be done to correct different-sized breasts or to change their shape.

You might be considering breast enlargement surgery because:

  • You feel your breasts are too small or out of proportion with the rest of your body
  • Your breasts are different sizes
  • Your breasts have drooped or changed after pregnancy, weight loss or with age
  • How you feel about your breasts is affecting your confidence

You might benefit more from a breast uplift instead – a procedure to combat drooping and improve the shape of your breasts.

Choosing to have breast enlargement surgery is an important decision. Take your time to think about why you want the surgery and research what it involves – now and in the future. At Spire, our experienced surgeons are all approved by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). They'll help you to reach the right decision and achieve the results that are right for you.

Find your nearest Spire hospital

Almost all our hospitals offer breast enlargement and have teams of consultants and surgeons who specialise in this type of cosmetic surgery.

Spire Nottingham Hospital

How breast enlargement surgery works

Implants are placed either under your breast tissue or under your chest muscle. Putting them under the chest muscle can give a more natural look but may cause more discomfort in the short-term.

Your consultant will explain the different implants available and the pros and cons of each.

Types of implants

Silicone gel (soft)

  • Less likely to wrinkle or ripple than saline
  • The most natural feel out of the three types of implant
  • If they rupture, they’re the most likely to spread into the breast tissue – this can cause lumps (siliconomas) and implant removal will be needed

Silicone gel (firm)

  • Less likely to wrinkle or ripple than saline
  • Less likely to result in hardening or rotation of the implant than soft silicone
  • A more natural feel than saline but not as natural as soft silicone


  • May be less likely to harden than silicone
  • Feel less natural than both types of silicone
  • More prone to wrinkling than silicone
  • More likely to rupture or deflate than silicone but if they do rupture, they’ll safely pass out of the body


Breast implants are measured by volume and not bra size. Your consultant can help you choose the most suitable implant size for you based on:

  • The size of your rib cage
  • Your existing volume of breast tissue

Shape and projection

  • Teardrop shape – you can choose the height and width separately, so there’s more control over the shape
  • Round shape – there’s a bigger volume at the top
  • Projection – you can choose how much the implant sticks out to give a subtle or a more obvious look

The surgery: what happens?

The surgeon will:

  • Make an incision (cut) either in the crease under your breast, under your armpit or around the areola, the coloured area of skin around your nipple
  • Create a pocket inside the breast for the implant
  • Insert the implant, positioning it as agreed
  • Close up the incision
  • May leave in a drain (a tube attached to a bag or bottle) to take away excess fluid or blood – a nurse will remove this after a couple of days

Your operation: what to expect

How long does a breast enlargement take?

Between 60 and 90 minutes.


You’ll be given a general anaesthetic, so you’ll be in a deep sleep.

Pain after a breast enlargement

It’s normal to experience some pain, including a tight feeling in your chest, for some time after a breast enlargement. Your healthcare team will give you pain relief medication to help you manage this.

Your hospital stay

You may go home on the same day or the next day.

Q & A

Amar Ghattaura, Consultant Cosmetic Surgeon

Talking about breast enlargement surgery

Your recovery: what to expect

Recovery time

You may be able to leave hospital on the same day or the next day, but it’ll be three months before you make a full recovery. Your surgeon may recommend that you wear a support bra for 24 hours a day for this time.


Before you go home, your nurse will give you advice about caring for your wounds, hygiene and showering. You’ll be given a date for a follow-up appointment so your consultant can make sure that everything’s as it should be.

Your lifestyle after surgery

As with any big operation, you’ll need someone to help you with light errands for the first few days. However, you should be back to normal activities within six weeks. You should avoid heavy lifting for the first few weeks.

You should be aware that mammograms, which screen for breast cancer from the age of 50, are less accurate after implant surgery. You’ll need to tell your mammography service so they can take special views and possibly screen you at a different centre.

It’s also important to know that your breast implants are unlikely to last for life and will probably need replacing, at some point.

Risks and complications

Most people have breast enlargement surgery without complications, but all surgery carries some risk and your consultant will explain these to you before you go ahead.

Although rare, breast enlargement complications can include:

  • Red and raised scars
  • A build-up of fluid in the breast or capsular contracture – hardening of the breast tissue around the implant
  • Rotation of the implant, affecting the shape or rupturing of the implant, leading to small lumps (siliconomas) and implant removal
  • Temporary skin reaction (from silicone gel)
  • General change in shape over time or creases, folds or ripples in the implant, affecting appearance
  • Changes in sensitivity to the nipple, which can be temporary or permanent and difficulty breastfeeding or producing enough milk
  • Reduced accuracy of mammogram screening for breast cancer
  • A possible slight increase in the risk of a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

UK advice on ALCL (as at July 2019)

Research suggests that patients with breast implants may have a very small but significant risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, (ALCL), a very rare type of cancer, in the scar capsule next to the implant. However, ALCL is very rare (the estimated risk is 1 case per 24,000 implants sold). As of February 2019, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had received 62 reports of ALCL in patients with breast implants, of which 52 meet the World Healthcare Organisation diagnostic criteria for breast implant associated ALCL.

As a result of this risk, the French regulator restricted use of certain macro-textured and polyurethane (PU) covered breast implants in France in April 2019. These implants continue to be available in the UK and breast cancer experts from across the UK have been working together to look at the risk to people with breast implants of developing this form of cancer. If you are worried following your breast implant surgery, please contact your GP or the surgeon who placed the implant. This is particularly important if you notice swelling around your implant more than six months after having the breast implant (regardless of how many years later).

Further information is available at and the Statement from the Chair of the PRASEAG.

At Spire hospitals, your safety is our top priority. We have high standards of quality control, equipment and cleanliness and an ongoing system of review and training for our medical teams.

Treatment and recovery timeline

Although everyone’s different, here’s a rough guide to recovery after breast enlargement surgery:

View full timeline

Same day or next day

You’ll be able to leave hospital

1-2 weeks

Stitches removed unless they’ve dissolved

1-2 weeks

May be able to drive (check with your car insurance company)

1-2 weeks

Back to work, depending on your job

6 weeks

Back to normal activities, including exercise

6-12 weeks

Your breasts will start to look and feel more natural

Up to 12 weeks

Wear a support bra for 24 hours a day

Up to 1 year

Keep your breast scars out of direct sunlight

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.

Get in touch


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