12 Aug What are the risks of breast implant surgery?
A breast implant operation is usually carried out with the person under general anesthetic and takes between 60 and 90 minutes.
A surgeon will cut the skin either at the bottom of the areola or below the breast, dissect out a pocket under the breast and possibly the pectoralis (push up) muscle, and position the implant. They will then stitch the cut back up before covering it with a dressing.
A person should not take the decision to have breast implants lightly. Not only can it be an expensive procedure, but it is essential to know that the results are not guaranteed.
Also, there are possible risks and complications. In this article, we take a look at some common complications and the symptoms that breast implants can cause.
Common breast implant complications
Swelling, bruising, and temporary pain may be side effects of breast implant surgery.
After surgery, recovery time is needed to help the cut to heal and the body to adjust. Typical side effects of breast implant surgery include:
- temporary pain
- swelling and bruising
- a feeling of tightness in the chest
A person can experience a feeling of tightness for a few weeks after the surgery.
Breast implant surgery does carry risks. There are times where it does not go as planned or people experience complications and problems afterward.
The most common breast implant complications include:
- thick, noticeable scarring that does not fade
- hardening of the breast tissue, due to scar tissue shrinking around the implant
- a rupture where the implant leaks that can cause small lumps called silicone granulomas to form
- noticeable creases or folds in the implant
- rotation of the implant within the breast
- “rippling” of the implant, if a thin layer of tissue covers the implant and sticks to the implant surface
- infection that will usually require removal of the implant
- being unable to breast-feed or producing less breast milk than before
- being dissatisfied with the results and requiring a further operation
- nerve damage to the nipples
Nerve damage can make someone’s nipples feel more sensitive, less sensitive, or they may lose feeling entirely. The damage may only be temporary for some women, but it can be permanent in others.
Other, less common complications of breast implant surgery include:
- excessive bleeding during surgery
- an allergic reaction to the anesthetic
- a blood clot forming in the veins deep in the body
An immune system cell cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma or ALCL is also linked to breast implants. This type of cancer is extremely rare but has been found in a small number of women who had breast implant surgery.
ALCL is usually found several years after the implant has been placed, and it is typically detected after the person notices a new swelling of one of the breasts where there is an implant.
In these cases, fluid has then been found around the implant, and on testing of the fluid, cancer cells have been detected.
A mammogram, which is an X-ray used for detecting breast cancer, may also be less accurate when performed on women with breast implants. Additional views or images are needed to screen breasts that have implants.
Different implants come with various risks, and so it is crucial for a person to research the type of implants available, their possible side effects and complications, and to choose which one suits them best.