Breast Augmentation Glossary

What do all these terms mean?

If you’re just starting out on your breast augmentation journey, you will come across a plethora of terms that probably leave you somewhat baffled. Below are a list of terms and definitions. Some of the terms below have their own dedicated web pages, and are simply shown as links on this page.

Anatomical implant – a teardrop-shaped breast implant.

Areola – circular area of darker skin surrounding the nipple.

Aspiration – withdrawing fluid from the body, usually by means of a syringe.

Asymmetry – difference in the shape, size, or proportion of the breasts.

Axillary or axilla – pertaining to the armpit area

Bottoming Out

Calcification – process of hardening by calcium salts

Capsule – the scar tissue that forms around the breast implant.

Capsular Contracture – tightening of the scar tissue that surrounds the breast implant.

Capsulectomy – surgical procedure in which the capsule around the breast implant is removed.

Capsulorraphy – surgical stitching of a tear in the capsule around the implant.

Capsulotomy (closed) – non-surgical procedure in which force is applied to the implant by pressing or squeezing in hopes of rupturing the capsule.

Capsulotomy (open) – surgical incision into the scar tissue around the implant.

Cohesive Gel – refers to the new silicone gel used in today’s implants. This silicone is highly viscous and cohesive, and does not “spill out” of the shell when the shell is ruptured.

Contralateral – opposite side.

CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.


Dropping – the process of the implant settling downward into the pocket

ETT (endotracheal tube) – catheter that is inserted into the trachea to establish and maintain the patient’s airway and ensure adequate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. More invasive than the LMA.

Extracapsular – outside the capsule.


Fascia – fibrous tissue containing collagen fibers that surround muscles, muscle groups, and other parts of the body.

Fibrous Tissues – connective tissues (such as the fascia) composed mostly of fibers.

Fluffing – the process of the implant “fluffing out” as the pectoral muscle gradually stretches out to accommodate the implant.

General Anesthesia

Granuloma – lump or mass made of inflammatory cells surrounding a foreign substance due to longstanding inflammation.

Gummy Bear Breast Implant – a highly cohesive silicone gel breast implant.

Hematoma – collection of blood within a space in the body.

Hemorrhage – abnormal internal or external bleeding.

Inflammation – the body’s response to infection or injury that is characterized by swelling, pain, warmth, and/or loss of function.

Inframammary – refers to the “crease” incision.

Intracapsular – inside the capsule.

Lactation – prouduction and secretion of milk by the breast glands.

LMA ( laryngeal mask airway) – Used during general anesthesia to either deliver oxygen or anesthesia gas to the patient. Less invasive then the ETT.

Mammary – pertaining to the breast.

Mammoplasty – plastic surgery of the breast.

Mastopexy – the medical term for breast lift.

Mondor’s Cord

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) – a radiographic diagnostic exam that currently offers the best ability to detect ruptured silicone implants.

Necrosis – death of cells and tissue.

Opaque – does not allow light to pass through; the opposite of transparent.

Palpate – to feel with the hand.

Palpability – the ability to feel the implant.

Pectoralis Major (also called “pecs”) – the thick, fan-shaped muscle located in the upper chest.

Periareolar – the area just outside the areola.

Postoperatively (post-op) – after surgery.

Preoperatively (pre-op) – prior to surgery.

Primary Breast Augmentation – the first time a breast implant is placed for the purpose of breast augmentation.

Prosthesis – any artificial body part.

Ptosis – medical term for “sagging”.

Redo – a breast augmentation surgery to replace both implants, no matter whether it is elective, or needed for complications.

Revision – a surgery to repair a complication, or replace an implant.

Rheumatological Disease – variety of diseases involving connective tissue structures of the body, especially the joints and fibrous tissue. These diseases are often associated with pain, inflammation, stiffness, and/or limitation of motion of the affected parts. Can include autoimmune diseases.

Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale Rupture – a questionnaire that measures self esteem.


Saline – solution comprising a water and a small amount of salt. About 3/4 of an adult’s body weight naturally consists of saltwater solution.

Scar Revision – a surgical procedure to improve the appearance of a scar.

Seroma – collection of fluid.

SF-36 Scale – questionnair intended to measure health-related quality of life. It includes questions that measure physical, mental, and social health.

Silent Rupture – breast implant rupture without symptoms and which is not apparent except through appropriate imaging techniques such as MRI.

Silicone Elastomer – a type of silicone that has elastic properties similar to rubber.

Sizer – temporary breast implant used by plastic surgeons during surgery to check size prior to making a decision as to what size implant to use.

Sizer (rice sizers) – homemade breast implant with a rice (or other type) filler that allows a woman to “try on” breast implant sizes in the privacy of her own home.

Subglandular placement – placement of a breast implant underneath and within the breast glands, but on top of the chest muscle.

Submuscular placement – placement of a breast implant wholly or partially underneath the chest muscle.

Symptomatic rupture – a breast implant rupture that is associated with symptoms such as lumps, persistent pain, swelling, hardening, or change in implant shape. Some silicone breast implant ruptures are symptomatic, but most are silent.

Systemic – pertaining to or affecting the body as a whole.

Tennessee Self-Concept Scale – questionnaire that evaluates how the patient sees herself and what she does, likes, and feels.

Transumbilical – via the navel.

Twilight Anesthesia – conscious sedation. Allows sedation of the patient while still leaving them with the ability to respond to verbal commands, and maintain and unassisted airway.

Midazolam (Versed, Dormicum, Hypnovel) – a drug in the benzodiazepine class that is often used in consious sedation (twlight anesthesia). It is a fast-acting drug that quickly relaxes and sedates the patient and produces amnesia.