Breast Augmentation Glossary

Learning all about breast augmentation is like trying to master a new language. What is a mastopexy? Will you need one? What muscles can the implant go under? We simplified the learning curve for you with our easy-to-use dictionary.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - U - V


American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS): an organization that certifies physicians as specialists. This group comprises 24 member boards, including the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Rigorous membership standards include educational requirements, professional peer evaluation and exams.

American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS): the medical specialty board that certifies plastic surgeons.

analgesic: a pain reliever.

anatomical implant: a contoured or teardrop-shaped implant.

anesthesia: a numbing agent.

areola: the disc of pigmented skin around the nipple; plural: areolae or areolas.

arnica montana: an herb used to treat swelling and bruising.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS): the professional organization of board-certified plastic surgeons.

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS): the sister organization of the ASPS. All board-certified plastic surgeons are members of ASPS, but ASAPS members specialize in cosmetic surgery.

asymmetrical: unequal, unmatching.

axilla: the armpit or underarm area; plural: axillae.

axillary: related to the armpit or underarm region.



band size: measurement of the rib cage denoted in bra sizes. It is measured in inches.

Benelli mastopexy: a type of breast lift performed by removing a circle of skin around the areolae complex and pulling in the breast tissue. Also known as a concentric, periareolar, or donut mastopexy.

bilateral: both the right and left sides. For example, a bilateral mastectomy is the surgical removal of both breasts.

board certified: an important term regarding the credentials of a physician or surgeon.

bottoming out: a condition which occurs when the lower poles (halves) of the breast slide under the inframammary crease.

breast envelope: the skin and subcutaneous tissue that covers the breast and helps give it shape.

breast lift: also called mastopexy or mastoplexy, the surgical procedure used to raise and firm sagging breasts.

bromelain: a homeopathic remedy derived from the pineapple stem which may reduce swelling and bruising.



capsular contracture: a complication that occurs when scar tissue forms around the implant, resulting in painful breast stiffness and possible leakage of the fluid inside the implant.

capsule: the fibrous tissue around the breast implant.

cleavage: the area between the breasts.

cohesive: marked by a tendency to stick together.

Cooper's Ligament: the connective tissue that attaches the breast gland to the overlying skin.

cutaneous: relating to or affecting the skin.



dissect: to separate tissue in surgery; to place an implant, your surgeon must first create or dissect a pocket within your breast.



endoscopic surgery: surgery performed using an endoscope (a small camera) and special surgical tools. Endoscopic surgery usually involves one or more small incisions and a shorter recovery time than traditional open surgery.

epinephrine: a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands during conditions of stress. It raises the blood pressure and breathing rate, and constricts blood vessels.

expander implant: a temporary breast implant that is slowly inflated with saline to stretch the tissue in preparation for a permanent breast implant.



fascia: a sheet of connective tissue that covers or binds muscles or organs.

fibrous tissue: tissue containing tightly woven strands of collagen protein.

fluffing: a condition that occurs when the breast implants drop into a slightly lower, more natural position, after the skin and muscle have completely relaxed during healing. Also called dropping.

form stable: Another name for highly cohesive or gummy bear breast implants. Form stable breast implants are filled with viscous gel that won't migrate in the event of a rupture.



general anesthesia: a type of anesthesia often used for breast augmentation. Under general anesthesia, you are fully asleep.

glandular: relating to or involving glands, gland cells, or their products.

gummy bear implants: nickname for a type of breast implants filled with highly cohesive silicone gel. This viscous filler has the consistency of a gummy bear, so if the implant ruptures, the gel won't migrate.



hematoma: a break in a blood vessel, causing a blood clot or localized, blood-filled area.

hemorrhage: an abnormal flow of blood from an incision or wound.

hypoxia: lack of oxygen to the body.



inferior: lower or closer to the feet.

inframammary crease: the crease below the breasts where the breast envelope meets the skin over the rib cage.

inframammary incision: an incision in the inframammary crease used to place breast implants. Also called the "crease" or "fold" incision.

intercostal arteries: the arteries responsible for the blood supply to the breast.

intracapsular rupture: type of implant rupture in which a silicone-filled breast implant breaks, but the silicone is contained within the capsule.

intravenous sedation: sedation or anesthesia delivered through an intravenous (IV) line.



lactation: producing milk from the breasts.

latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction procedure: a reconstructive procedure that uses the latissimus dorsi (a back muscle) to form a breast mound.

lobules: the part of the breast where milk is produced. The lobules are gathered into lobes. There may be as many as 20 lobes per breast.

local anesthesia: anesthesia that numbs a small part of the body.

lidocaine: a local anesthetic, also called Xylocaine.

lumpectomy: surgical removal of breast tumor tissue.

lymph node: any of the small glands that make up the lymphatic system, which carries lymph fluid, nutrients and waste material between the body tissues and the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is a major component of the body's immune system.

lymphadenopathy: abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes.

lymphedema: swelling, generally in the arms or legs, that occurs when there is a blockage in the lymphatic system that is preventing lymph fluid from draining well. This tends to occur after certain types of breast cancer surgery.



malposition: incorrect or abnormal position.

mamma: breast, organ of lactation; plural: mammae.

mammogram: a breast X-ray.

mammography: the use of X-rays to form a diagnostic picture of the breast.

mastectomy: surgical removal of the breast or breasts and associated tissue.

mastopexy: breast lift.

micromastia: abnormal smallness of the breasts.

myectomy: excision of muscle.



nipple: the bulge of pigmented, erectile tissue in the center of the surface of the breast from which milk can flow.





pectoralis major: either of two large, fan-shaped chest muscles. These are the muscles that a breast implant is placed beneath in submuscular or subpectoral placement.

pectoralis minor: the small chest muscles. These muscles are targeted with a Botox breast lift.

periareolar: surrounding the areolae complex of the nipple.

pocket: a cavity made in the body by dissection. In breast augmentation, the pocket is the space created for the implant.

pole: the upper or lower half of the breast or breast implant.

ptosis: sagging.



regional anesthesia: anesthesia that numbs a region of the body. This type of anesthesia is not routinely used for breast augmentation.

rectus abdominus fascia: the fascia covering the rectus abdominus muscle of the abdomen. It is used to help cover the breast implant in full submuscular implant coverage.

rippling: the appearance of ridges or wrinkles in a breast implant.



saline: salt water.

saline-filled implants: a type of breast implant that is filled with sterile saline.

sedation: a state of calm or sleep.

seroma: a collection of fluid under the skin.

serratus muscle: a muscle on either side of the chest that is connected to, and covers, the ribs. It is used in conjunction with the pectoralis major muscle and rectus abdominus fascia in full submuscular breast implant placement.

silicone: the second most abundant element on Earth and a staple ingredient in commercial products, from pacifiers and breast implants to non-stick bakeware and adhesives.

silicone-filled implants: breast implants filled with silicone gel.

sternum: the breast bone between the two breasts.

submuscular, full submuscular: implant placement patterns. Full submuscular placement involves placing the implant entirely under the muscle.

supine: face up.

symmastia: condition characterized by touching, in the center of the chest, of the two breast implants; also called kissing implants and "uniboob."

symmetrical: similar in size and shape.



tachycardia: a rapid heart rate.

thoracic: relating to or located within the thorax or chest.

thromboembolus: obstruction of a blood vessel by a blood clot; plural, thromboemboli.

thrombosis: localized coagulation of blood.

transaxillary: though the axilla (armpit).

transverse: lying or going across at an angle.

transumbilical breast augmentation (TUBA): a procedure in which breast implants are inserted via the belly button.

tubular (or tuberous) breasts: a breast shape caused by a small breast base and/or herniated areolae.

twilight sedation: a light form of sedation anesthesia that provides full sedation, but you can be roused.



umbilical: relating to the navel or belly button.



vasoconstrictor: a drug that constricts the blood vessels.

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