Most women are happy with the results of their breast implant surgery. But it is still surgery and carries some risks. Here are a few of the risks and side effects of breast augmentation and how to manage them.
Bleeding during surgery: Your doctor will give you a list of medications to avoid two weeks before surgery (especially anything that contains aspirin or ibuprofen) to decrease chances of bleeding.
Bruising after surgery: Putting ice packs over your breasts for 24 to 36 hours after surgery can reduce bruising.
Infection: Infection is rare (less than one percent), but if it happens, the implant usually has to be removed (and can be replaced with a new implant three or four months after the infection has resolved). Most surgeons will put you on antibiotics before surgery, and then have you continue for about a week after surgery.
Capsular contracture: Capsular contracture is an abnormal tightening of the scar tissue around the implant, which causes it to become hard and painful (and possibly to assume an abnormal shape). It's less common with the newer silicone gel implants, especially if they are placed under the muscle. Using saline implants (and putting them under the muscle) greatly reduces the risk.
Extrusion of the implant: Extrusion of a breast implant (exposure of the implant either through the skin or by separation of the incision) is rare and usually indicates an underlying problem such as an infected implant or an excessively large implant. The risk is much greater if steroids are placed in the implant pocket, which is not recommended. Extrusion generally means that the implant has to be removed (it can be replaced with a new implant in about three or four months). The risk of extrusion is also higher when a full breast lift is done at the same time as breast augmentation.
Rupture: Silicone breast implants can rupture, which leads to the formation of scar tissue in the breast. If left unaddressed, the scar tissue can lead to pain and changes in the contour or shape of the breast, and it will most likely need to be removed. Right now, there's no evidence that ruptured silicone breast implants lead to breast cancer or connective tissue diseases.
Mondor's disease: A condition where a blood clot develops in a vein underneath the breast, which causes a tender ridge or band to form extending down from the breast crease, Mondor's disease happens after 2 to 3 percent of breast augmentation surgeries and is noticed two to three weeks after surgery. It is easily treated with aspirin and warm compresses.
Loss of nipple sensation: On average, about 15 percent of women lose sensation in one or both nipples with breast augmentation surgery. As with most of the risks of breast augmentation, the bigger you go, the higher the risk.
Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL): The FDA is currently reviewing the association between breast implants and this rare type of lymphoma. The risk appears to be very low (only 34 cases have been found). If women notice any unusual signs after the initial healing period, such as pain, lumps, swelling or asymmetry, they should consult their doctor right away.