Surely if you’ve come to reading this article you have thought of having breast augmentation, and the reasons why are your own, cosmetic or health. But before you go on, it is only normal that you would like to know the risks behind the procedure, and the risks you will carry while having implants.
Most of the plastic surgeons will assure you it is perfectly safe, with little or none at all risk and they will point out all of the possible risks and the obvious ones, and coat it with sugar and phrases like “it is absolutely safe, I guarantee you”. But the truth is a bit more stretched than that, and carries a heavier load, and the risks you will be taking won’t appear right away, it is more of a risk you have to carry for the rest of your life, regardless if you decide to take out the implants or leave them be.
But before going on, what is breast augmentation? It is a surgical procedure that includes the use of breast implants or fat transfer with the goal of enlarging one or two breast, and most of the times this procedure is being done to enlarge the volume of the breasts cosmetically, of aesthetical reasons. However, sometimes augmentation is needed to correct asymmetry, which is present at most of the women round the world, and it is also being used for corrective purposes, such as restoring breast volume after breast feeding or weight reduction, or after mastectomy or injury. Whatever the reason, the end goal is breasts enlargement, and while there are two methods, it is a very well known that implants are being used far more than fat transfer.
Breast implants are made out of silicon shell that can be filled with silicon or saline (sterile salt water), and while the first one gives a bigger volume, the second one is a bit safer-ish! Ish because it is not risk free and saline breast implant carry with it other risk besides the risks it shares with silicon based implant.
This risk is the most obvious one, because like every other surgery, breast implant surgery is no different, it carries its own risks:
- Anesthesia risks
- Infection risks
- Hematoma (blood collecting round the implant)
Usually these risks are highest at the time of surgery or right after it, but complication can lead to other surgeries, and bear in mind that after 10 years you are obliged to either change or remove the implants. The life time of an implant is maximum 12 years, although it can be damaged much sooner, or ruptured, which nevertheless leads to another removal or change surgery procedure.
Another surgery might also be needed for scar or wound revision, like removal of excess scar tissue, or a simple but still not risk-free drainage of hematoma, or a surgery for repositioning the implant. 46 % of women with silicone gel implants and 21 % with saline implants have another surgery within of three years of the first procedure. This is statistic from FDA, which is a huge percentage and should be taken seriously.
A common complication is loss of nipple sensitivity, or pain in and around the nipples. Pain after surgery is quite normal, but some patients experience breast pain long after the surgery, and this condition can turn into chronic pain which by patient testimonials can be healed by removal of the implants. 6 % of silicone patients and 16 % of saline patients experienced breast pain long after the surgery.
Aesthetical complication risks
Due to different response of your body to the implant, it can change the place of placing during surgery and cause asymmetry. This complication can require additional surgery!
Some women are not satisfied with the “new” look, or they don’t like the feeling, saying it is unnatural and strange, and usually this problems can lead to sexual intimacy. Another cosmetic problem is the scar formed from the surgery which can become hard or tight around the implant, also called capsular contracture, condition of scaring inside the body, condition that can be very painful.
The outer shell of the implant can be ruptured by a number of causes, like mammogram exam pressure, surgical instruments damage, aging of the shell, trauma. The rupture of the outer shell causes the filling to leak in your body. With saline based implants is quite safe, because the saline will simply be absorbed by your body, and the change is visible, because the whole implant will deflate.
With silicon filled implants it’s a bit more complicated! A small leakage can continue unnoticeable, and can happen for a longer period, years even. The silicon won’t be neither absorbed nor removed from your body, the gel will remain round the breast implant. This can cause some serious complication, complications that are still researched at large, and the results are eagerly expected by many.
Complications of silicon and saline leakage
As already mentioned, saline leakage is quite visible, but not risk free. A saline implant can be infected by bacteria or mold, and the presence is not visible, because the infection usually happens during surgery, and over the course of time it multiplies in the implant. When a rupture happens, the saline with the bacteria or mold is released in the body, and this leads to all sorts of complication, some of which can lead to death. Again, the effect of rupture is visible, so action should be taken immediately.
Silicon rupture can happen quietly or silently as commonly know, and can be revealed only by MRI and this is the reason why doctors suggest every women with implants take an MRI every two or three years. There is some connectivity with silicon presence in your body and the appearance of autoimmune diseases, but this has yet to be proved. Still, there is some evidence, and a lot of studies are done and ongoing, because these conditions take many years to develop and be diagnosed, and most of the studies so far relied on patients who have had breast implants for not more than three years. Some studies have already shown a correlation between fibromyalgia and leaking implants patients. Some researchers have also found that women with leaking silicone implants are much more likely to be diagnosed with disease like dermatomyositis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and pulmonary fibrosis. A study has also shown that more than a third of women who removed the implants felt better and with much less symptoms right after removal.
Additional possible problems
Women who have decided to undergo breast augmentation have also reported that breastfeeding can be harder, or even not possible. Another painful fact is that because of the silicon, some breast cancers are much harder to detect. So far no connection has been made with breast implants and cancer, but as already mentioned, a lot of studies are still ongoing.
Whichever is the reason why you are thinking of undergoing this procedure, think very carefully, because there are a lot of risks. Again, if you have decided, be sure to have realistic expectations, having the best and the worst of the outcome. Speak to your doctor, or to other doctors, and be sure you have all the facts, and know all the risks, and make sure you have the true reasons why you should do it, should you do it at all. Some women do really need implants, like victims of breast cancer who had mastectomy or some patients with significant asymmetry, and still this surgery is again strictly out of cosmetic reasons and has more to do with self-confidence than any other health issue.
Love yourself more than anything else, know you’re beautiful all the time no matter what anybody says, and you will make the right decision, whatever it is, it will be right for you.
This content is brought to you by Toronto Cosmetic Clinic, also known as TCC – a state-of-the-art, specialized breast augmentation clinic located in Toronto, Ontario.