Risks of Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure. Like all surgical procedures, there are general risks that apply. Please read our information page on potential risks of breast enlargement. With regards to breast augmentation, there are special considerations that need to be taken into account.
Repeat surgery: You may need more surgery down the road, either to replace the implants or to remove them altogether.
Rupture: Implants can rupture, causing fluid to leak into your breast and surrounding tissue. This can happen as a result of a blunt-force injury – if you’re thrown against the steering wheel in a car accident, for example – or from tiny cracks in the implant shell that can occur over time. If you have a saline-filled implant, a rupture will cause your implant to lose its original size or shape. If you have a silicone gel-filled implant, a rupture may not be as obvious.
Deflation: A rupture or a slow leak can cause an implant to collapse, deflating the size of your breast. This may result in breasts that are noticeably different in size or in a change to the cosmetic appearance of your breast, such as sagging or wrinkling.
Capsular contracture: Fibrous scar tissue can form a capsule around your breast implant. The scar tissue builds up over time and constricts your implant – a painful and potentially disfiguring condition. Surgery is usually necessary to correct capsular contracture.
Infection: Breast augmentation surgery can lead to infection. Medications may help, but antibiotics aren’t always successful in treating infections of this type. Removing your breast implants may be necessary if you develop a severe infection. You may have to wait six months to a year after implant removal before you can get new implants placed.
Hematoma: Blood and other fluids can pool around the implant, causing pain, infection or other problems. If you develop a hematoma, you might need to go back into the operating room so that your doctor can find the cause of the bleeding.
Pain: You could experience significant pain after surgery – more than what’s considered normal – which indicates a bigger problem, such as implant rupture or capsular contracture. To remedy the problem, you may need surgery to remove or replace the breast implants.
Other possible risks include dissatisfaction with the results of your surgery. You might experience changes in the sensation of your breasts and nipples, or you might be able to feel the implant beneath the surface of your breast tissue.
Smoking and Breast Augmentation
Smoking is a major risk factor for wound healing problems. Smoking causes not only cancer (lung, oral, nasal and other), but it is also a poison that impairs your immune system and thus increases your risk of infection and wound healing problems after surgery. It is very important to avoid smoking for two weeks prior to surgery and for two weeks after surgery.
Finally, the best way to avoid a disaster is to ensure that your surgeon is properly trained and skilled to perform your breast enlargement. Following this simple rule will allow you to avoid ‘boob job disasters’.
Breast Augmentation Myths
To address health concerns about breast implants and breast augmentation surgery, a committee at the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the issues and concluded:
Breast implants don’t increase breast cancer risk. The IOM found evidence that breast implants don’t cause breast cancer or the recurrence of breast cancer.
Breast implants don’t weaken your immune system. When your body detects something foreign in your system, such as a virus or bacterium, it responds by kicking your immune system into high gear. However, the IOM found no evidence to suggest this happens with breast implants. Nor did it find evidence linking implants to any autoimmune or connective tissue disorder.
Breast-feeding is safe. Your breast milk could absorb some of the silicone from breast implants but the amount is not considered harmful to your baby. Breast milk is the best thing you can feed your baby; the IOM encourages women with breast implants to breast-feed if they are able to do so.