A majority of women do not have any severe complications after having breast implants or undergoing a breast augmentation surgery, although some do. An understanding of the possible risks and how to care for your implants is therefore very crucial.
Since the decision on having a plastic surgery is very personal, you should decide if you can accept any potential complications and risks of breast augmentation, and if the benefits will achieve what you are aiming for. To make sure that you completely understand the procedure and any possible risks and complications, you will be requested to sign consent forms.
The potential risks in a breast augmentation surgery include:
- anesthesia risks
- persistent pain
- poor skin scarring
- a possibility of revisional surgery
- faulty or wrong position of the implant
- seroma (fluid accumulation)
- capsular contracture (the formation of tight scar tissues near the implant)
- skin wrinkling around the implant
- changes in breast and nipple sensations
- silent rupture (rupture with or without symptoms) of implants filled with silicone
- rupture with deflation of implants filled with saline
Before signing a consent form, your plastic surgeon will discuss these risks and other possible complications. Ask any questions you may have regarding the procedure.
Just like any other surgical procedure, breast augmentation has some possible complications.
Below is a list of complications that may develop in about 1 percent of individuals with breast implants. Additional surgeries or non-surgical treatments may be required to treat any of the following complications. Ensure that you and your surgeon have discussed any complications and appropriate treatments before proceeding with the surgery.
- Breast pain - pain in the breast or nipple area.
- Asymmetry - is when your breasts are uneven in appearance, particularly in shape, size, or volume.
- Calcium deposits/calcification - these deposits are hard lumps that are found below the skin near the implant. They can be confused as cancer in a mammography, leading to further surgery.
- Breast tissue atrophy - is the shrinking and thinning of the breasts.
- Chest wall deformity - an abnormal appearance or deformity of the chest.
- Capsular contracture - is the tightening of capsular tissues near the implant, leading to the firmness of your breasts, which squeezes the implants.
- Extrusion - is when your skin breaks down and the implants show through the skin.
- Deflation - is the leakage of saline from the breast implants, mostly as a result of a leak in a valve, a cut or tear in the shell of the implant, leading to a total or partial implant collapse.
- Hematoma - is the accumulation of blood around the surgical area. It may result in pain, swelling, and bruising. Normally, hematoma develops immediately after surgery, although it can develop whenever there is a breast injury. Your body may absorb tiny hematomas, although the big ones may need medical treatment like surgical draining.
- Delayed healing of wounds - happens when the incision area does not normally heal or takes a long time to heal.
- Visibility - is when the implant appears through your skin.
- Iatrogenic damage or injury - is damage or injury to the implant or tissue due to the implant surgery.
- Redness or bruising - your skin can change colors due to bleeding during the surgery. Redness or bruising is expected and is a short-lived symptom.
- Rippling or wrinkling - is when the implant becomes wrinkled and can be seen or felt via the skin.
- Skin rash - may appear around or on your breasts.
- Rupture - is a hole or a tear on the outer shell of the implant.
Breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. The more you stay with breast implants, the higher your chances of developing complications. That is why they will have to be taken out. Moreover, you are not guaranteed of a pleasing result from reoperations.
The type of complication determines the form of surgical procedure that will be done in a reoperation. One or more reoperations may be required as time goes by, as a result of one or more complications. A single reoperation may involve more than one procedure. The following are some forms of surgical procedures that may be done in a reoperation:
- Removal of an implant, with or without a replacement.
- Wound or scar revision, such as the surgical removal of an extra scar tissue.
- Surgical release or capsule removal of the scar tissue near the breast implant.
- Cyst removal or biopsy by putting a needle via your skin and making an incision on the skin to take out the lump.
- Hematoma drainage by putting a tube or needle through your skin to remove the accumulation of blood.
- Implant repositioning by surgically opening the cut to move the implant.
Rare Complications That Can Develop After a Breast Augmentation Surgery
- Seroma - is an abnormal accumulation of fluid near the implant, resulting in swelling or pain that may require a needle to be taken out.
- Dehiscence (wound separation) - an uncommon complication where the wound's edges separate after the surgery. It usually requires treatment.
- Hypertrophic scarring - is an abnormal reaction to trauma. The scarring is characterized by raised, very thick, and reddish scars that occurs after the surgery. This complication also requires treatment.
- Mondor’s disease - is a temporary inflammation of your blood vessels below the breast surface.
- Unusual breast sensations - are short-term changes in the usual sensations of your breast and nipple. It normally fades away during the recovery period of the surgery.
Common effects after a breast augmentation surgery:
- pain that affects the breast and nipple
- temporary swelling, bruising, and discomfort
Complications of Breast Augmentation Surgery
Just like any other surgical procedure, breast augmentation comes with possible complications. The leading risks that are linked to surgeries include infection and bleeding, although they are uncommon. Antibiotics are given to the patient prior and after the surgery to reduce the risk of infection. The patient will also continue using the antibiotics for a few days after the surgery. To further reduce the chances of bacteria invading your breast implants and wounds, the "no-touch technique" is observed.
To further reduce your risk, follow the steps below:
- Let your doctor know that you have breast implants prior to any surgical operation. They will give you an oral antibiotic an hour before the surgery.
- In case an infection occurs anywhere in your body, such as a bladder infection, immediately treat it to prevent the spread of the infection via the blood to the breast implants.
- If you suspect that there is an infection in your breasts, call for medical assistance immediately. It is important to treat the infection before it worsens.
Deflation and Rupture in Breast Implants Filled with Saline
The word "deflation" is used only for implants filled with saline, while the word "rupture" is used for all forms of breast implants. It is easy to know if your saline-filled implant ruptures since the saline solution will leak in your body as soon as possible or in a few days. You will also notice that there is a loss in the original shape and size of the implant.
The following are surgical procedures that are not recommended for breast implants that are filled with saline since they result to deflation and ruptures:
- Injection via the shell of the implant
- Closed capsulotomy - a method used in relieving capsular contracture, where the breast is squeezed manually to break down the hard capsule.
- Placing drugs or other substances in the implant besides the sterile saline.
- Implant alteration
- Any betadine contact with the implant
- Implant stacking