Breast Augmentation Risks
Breast augmentation is considered to be a safe and effective method of giving women the appearance they want. Larger breasts or more lifted, symmetrical, or proportional breasts can make a positive difference in the way a woman not only looks, but feels. While there are a number of excellent benefits of breast augmentation surgery, there are also several complications that could occur of which you should be aware. Before undergoing any cosmetic surgery it is important to have an in-depth understanding of any potential health-related problems that may result from the procedure. We urge you to continue reading, so you are equipped with all of the pertinent information before choosing to move forward with the procedure.
In order to reduce your chances of complications from breast augmentation surgery, it is important that you choose a plastic surgeon with the right credentials and experience. During your consultation, your doctor will inquire about your medical history and any existing conditions you have to determine whether you are a good candidate for the surgery, or if you are at high risk. Additionally, make sure that your physician addresses any questions you have, and that you feel completely comfortable with the procedure before you decide whether it is right for you.
The various complications that could occur after surgery range in severity. Many patients will have to undergo an additional surgery at some point in their lives due to complications, which could include:
As the body heals itself during breast augmentation recovery, scar tissue, called the capsule, naturally develops around the implant. The capsule could contract, placing too much pressure on the implant, resulting in pain, discomfort, hardening of the breast, or a distorted-looking breast. Your doctor may recommend that the implant be placed beneath the chest muscle to avoid this complication.
The "Baker Grading System" determines the level of severity of the capsular contracture, from grades one through four - four being the worst. If the breast is hard, looks unnatural, and is very painful, you are likely at a stage three or four, in which case surgery is required. Your surgeon will either perform an open capsulatomy to loosen the scar tissue, or a capsulectomy to remove the scar tissue completely.
Rippling occurs when the breast implant is wrinkled or folded, causing the breast to look distorted on the surface. In order to avoid rippling, your surgeon may suggest a silicone-gel implant so the substance doesn't move around as easily, or a smooth-surfaced implant. If patients notice a bump, valley, or ridge, usually at the outer portion along the bottom of the breast, she may be experiencing rippling, and should go see the surgeon right away.
Infection can occur after any type of surgery, and breast augmentation surgery is no exception. If patients experience a fever or notice the breasts are red, tender, or inflamed, an infection may be the cause. In order to avoid infection, refrain from submerging in water as the incisions are still healing. And, do not use lotions, deodorants, or any other irritants near the incision location. If infection is going to occur, it usually will from one to six weeks following the procedure. If you have an infection, you should see your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics or recommend removing the implant until the infection is gone. An infection may also cause the onset of capsular contracture.
Hematoma, an accumulation of blood also known as bruising, can lead to breast implant complications, including infection or capsular contracture. Patients generally experience some bruising and other side effects after the breast augmentation surgery, however excessive bruising may need to be surgically drained in order to properly heal. Your surgeon will have to be extremely careful not to rupture the implant when inserting the tubes required for draining.
Numbness or Sensitive Nipples
Very minor numbness or nipple sensitivity can occur immediately following the breast augmentation procedure, which subsides after several days to a few months. However, some patients claim that they experience either intense nipple sensation or a loss in nipple sensation as long as five years after the surgery. This is due to nerve pathways being disrupted during the breast surgery. Patients may experience intensified or weakened sensation, or no feeling at all.
Though displacement is extremely rare, patients may experience shifting of the implant from its correct location, usually just several days following the procedure. Women with larger implants are at a greater risk of displacement, which can be corrected with surgery.
Breast Implant Rupture
Patients with saline or silicone breast implants are at risk of experiencing a rupture. With silicone, there are no noticeable symptoms that a rupture occurred, and therefore regular MRI checkups may be necessary. However, with saline implants, the rupture results in rapid leakage and therefore quick deflation of the breast that patients notice right away. The saline solution is harmless and is easily absorbed into the body. If a leakage does occur, patients should see the surgeon right away to replace the implant.
Breast implants may cause an obstruction during a mammogram, as the x-ray machine cannot photograph anything underneath. Your surgeon may recommend the implants be placed below the chest muscle. Make sure the mammogram technician is aware that you have implants so he or she can best accommodate your needs.
There is no evidence that breast implants cause difficulty with breast feeding. If you are planning to have children, make sure your surgeon is aware, as it could determine where he or she makes the incision. A ruptured breast implant will not cause harm to a baby during breast feeding either. If nipple sensation has been affected by the surgery, breast feeding may be slightly uncomfortable.
There are two types of breast implants available, silicone and saline. While both are considered safe, each one presents unique risks that you should know about before deciding which to move forward with. To avoid serious problems, you should be well aware of the risks, make sure you only go to a board-certified surgeon with experience performing breast augmentation surgery, and have an open and honest dialogue with your surgeon before moving forward with the procedure. We invite you to continue reading about the risks of breast augmentation surgery, and then search for a qualified plastic surgeon in your area for a consultation.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast augmentation before and after photos.
Photo credit: James P. Wire, MD
Silicone Breast Implant Risks
Silicone breast implants were at one time widely debated and criticized for being unsafe. However, today, silicone implants are FDA approved and are considered a good, safe option for enhancing the breasts for women over 22 years of age. It is important to know that although silicone implants are FDA approved, there is still some risk associated with them that you should know about.
One of the main concerns with silicone implants is the risk of rupture. A patient could experience a ruptured implant and not even be aware for some time, as leakage occurs very slowly and there are no evident symptoms. Patients must undergo routine MRI screenings to identify if a rupture has taken place. It is also advised that patients avoid applying any major pressure to the implants to help prevent rupturing.
Silicone implants, as well as saline breast implants, have the potential to obstruct mammography screenings, as x-rays cannot capture images through the implants. Additionally, during a mammography screening, the firm pressure can cause an implant to rupture. Mammograms are critical to detecting early signs of cancer, however, you should tell the technician about your implants before and during appointment.
Saline Breast Implant Risk
As with silicone breast implants, there is some risk of rupturing with saline implants also. However, patients are more likely to notice the implant rupturing right away, as the breast will appear to be smaller, drooping, or flat. The saline substance is not considered harmful to the body and can be absorbed into the body easily.
Patients with silicone implants may also experience "rippling", which is caused when the implant wrinkles or folds. The breast may appear to have waves along the side when this problem occurs. The only way to correct the issue is to undergo another surgical procedure.
Locate a Surgeon through DocShop
To learn more about capsular contracture, ruptured breast implants, or other risks and complications from breast implants, contact a qualified cosmetic surgeon in your area through the DocShop directory.