Risks

And Possible Complications of Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation can give you fabulous results. However, it also poses some risks that can lead to complications or unfavorable results. This page will explain the risks and complications associated with breast augmentation surgery.

Risks of Breast Augmentation

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is a scar that forms around the implant, causing it to feel firm, look unnatural, and potentially hurt. When you see pictures of a woman with obvious implants who looks like she has “coconut breasts”, she more than likely has a severe capsular contracture. This is thought to be less common and less severe with saline implants than with silicone implants, although studies are underway to determine whether this is true. If you develop a mild capsular contracture, you may not be bothered by it and may not even notice you have one. If you develop one that is moderate or severe, you will probably require breast surgery to correct the problem. Surgery involves removing the scar and replacing it with a new breast implant. In spite of this, the capsular contracture may return.

Placing the breast implant under the muscle has a lower risk of capsular contracture than placing the implant over the muscle. Talk with your plastic surgeon about other ways to help minimize capsular contracture.

Find out more about capsular contractures.

Interference with Mammography

Breast implants do interfere with the ability of a mammogram to “see” all of your breast tissue. Placing the implant under the muscle allows for the least amount of interference.

With the breast implant under your muscle, mammograms can “see” about 90% of your
breast tissue. With the breast implant over the muscle (AKA under the breast), mammograms can “see” 75% of your breast tissue.

Whether under or over the muscle, implants do not interfere with your ability to detect lumps in a self breast examination. Self exams are found to be the most successful way in discovering the majority of breast cancers. Implants also do not interfere with ultrasound or MRI scans, which are helpful in the evaluation of breast masses.

Find out more about interference with mammography.

Breast Implant Displacement

Breast implants can move out of position at anytime after breast augmentation surgery. They can move upward, downward, left or right. If they move only a little, you may not even notice. If they move a lot, you may need further surgery to move them back into position. Fortunately, this problem is not common. The larger the implant, the greater the chance that it will displace downward. Find out more about breast implant displacement.

Saline Implant Deflation

Saline implants can develop a leak and deflate. If this happens, your breast will shrink to its preoperative size over a matter of a day or so. You will need another breast augmentation surgery to replace the deflated implant.

Implant deflation is most likely to occur in implants that have not been overfilled. Yes, you read that right. Overfilling breast implants reduces deflation. This is because deflation is a result of folding of the implant shell, which occurs repetitively in implants that are not overfilled. After the implant shell has folded hundreds or thousands of times with your natural body movement, the implant shell tears – just like a piece of paper that has been folded time after time.

Risk of deflation is about 4% during the first year following breast augmentation surgery , the chance is then about 1% per implant per year for each year thereafter.

Find out more about saline implant deflation.

Silicone Implant Rupture

Whereas saline implants are said to deflate when the silicone shell becomes disrupted, silicone gel breast implants are said to rupture. It really is the same thing, except that when silicone gel implant shells rupture, the silicone does not become quickly reabsorbed by your body. Hence, you might not know whether you have a rupture. If silicone gel extrudes out of the implant shell, then it might provoke an inflammatory response, leading to…that’s right….a capsular contracture. This is often the first sign of a silicone gel implant rupture. Whereas ruptures occurred with great frequency in implants made in the 1980’s, the newer silicone gel implants have thicker shells and are presumed to have a lower rupture rate (studies are underway). If you develop a moderate or severe capsular contracture with a silicone gel breast implant, then the usual treatment is surgical removal of the implant along with the capsule, which is really made up of surrounding scar tissue. A new implant can be placed at the same time. Find out more about silicone gel implant rupture.

Rippling

This is the visible appearance of waviness of the skin over your implants, like the ripples of a wave on a lake. Some doctors refer to this as “wrinkling.”

The rippling occurs due to saline shifting around inside your implants. It is most troublesome if it occurs in the upper half of the breast, because it would be evident in low-cut clothing and swim wear.

Rippling is uncommon when the implants are over filled and is less common with smooth implants than with textured ones. Also, when the implants are placed under the muscle, there is less chance of rippling in the upper half of the breast. Rippling is much less common with silicone than saline implants.

Find out more about breast implant rippling.

Infection

Infection, if it occurs, usually does so within two months of breast surgery. Infection occurs in about 1% of all implant surgeries. If an infection occurs it often requires antibiotics and the removal of the involved implant. A new implant can be placed six months later, which means you would have to go for six months with very uneven breasts. Find out more about breast implant infections.

Nipple numbness

If the possibility of having numb nipples is unacceptable to you, you should not have breast augmentation because no plastic surgeon can guarantee preservation of nipple sensation. The national risk of having permanently numb nipples is about 15%. Find out more about breast numbness and changes in sensation.

Breast Feeding and Pregnancy
Breast feeding ability is not altered by implants. Many women ask about the effect of future pregnancy on augmented breasts. In most cases, implants will not affect the fate of your postpartum breasts. Here is why: following pregnancy (and breast feeding), your breasts will shrink to their pre-pregnancy size (or there about). During this process of shrinking, your breast skin may either tighten or not tighten. If it tightens, you will most likely not have breast droop. If it does not tighten, then your breasts will unfortunately droop. Whether or not the skin tightens has little or nothing to do with the presence or absence of breast implants.

Other Potential Complications and Risks

Find out about sloshing

Find out about hematoma and bleeding

Breast implants and ALCL

Need for Further Breast Surgery

Women unwilling to accept the potential need for further surgery should not have breast augmentation. Understand that if you receive any implant in your body – whether it be a pace maker, artificial joint, artificial heart valve, or anything – that one of the inherent risks is that you may need further surgery on it at some point in your life. With breast implants, you may need further surgery for capsular contracture, deflation, rippling, displacement, infection, desire for a different size, or another reason.

You may also go a lifetime without having any problems. But, it is most prudent to assume that at some point, you will probably want or need another surgery to address one of these problems. To reduce your risk of needing further breast surgery, be sure to visit Breast Augmentation Tips for getting the best results. Information on that page will help you to reduce your risks, expedite your recovery, and ensure the best result.

To help you better understand the decisions that might help you reduce the risks on this page, be sure to visit Options in Breast Augmentation Surgery.