What are the risks of breast enlargement surgery?

This is a relatively straightforward procedure. Your surgeon will have performed this surgery countless times. However, all surgery is risky and it is as well to be aware of these risks.

Every cosmetic procedure will have complications which are specific to that procedure although they are rare.

The main risks of breast augmentation surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Diminished or loss of nipple sensation
  • Capsular Contracture
  • Reaction to anaesthesia
  • Implants break or leak
  • Haematoma
  • The implant clearly ripples or undulates
  • Asymmetry
  • Links to immune system disorders – still unproven
  • May need to repeat this procedure

Some of these apply to all surgical procedures but the others relate to breast augmentation in particular.

Risks specific to breast augmentation:

Diminished or loss of nipple sensation: you may notice a loss in nipple sensitivity. What can happen is that the nipples become either oversensitive or undersensitive. In a few rare cases the sensation is lost altogether. This may ease over time but can be permanent in a small minority of cases.

Capsular Contracture: this is the name given to the most common complication that may arise. It is where the skin or capsule around the implant begins to harden or ‘contract’ hence the name. If this happens then the breast will feel hard to the touch.

It can be painful or cause the breast to take on a misshapen appearance. If this happens then your surgeon will prescribe
anti-inflammatory medication to soften this hardening. If this fails then further surgery will be needed to free up the scar tissue.

One way of preventing this is to massage the breasts on a regular basis. Another is using compression straps. The risks of this happening can increase over time so it is as well to be aware of this.

Bleeding: Any blood not drained away from the surgical site can collect in the pocket specially created for the implant. If it’s not attended to then it can cause the breast to swell and become painful.

If this happens then you will require further surgery to stop this bleeding and remove the haematoma.

Infection: the implant can become infected. Symptoms of this include soreness and redness around the surgical wound. If this happens then the implant will need to be removed. This removal is only a temporary (6 weeks). You may be given antibiotics before and after surgery to prevent this from happening.

Asymmetry: this is where the breasts take on an uneven appearance. They may have been like that before the surgery. If this is hardly noticeable then you can live with it but if they are obviously uneven you may need further surgery to correct this.

Links to immune system disorders: there have been cases of women experiencing breast pain, join swelling, fever and fatigue following this surgery. This may be related to problems with the immune system but there is no evidence to show that it is linked to breast augmentation.

Implants break or leak: there have been cases where the implants have ruptured or leaked as a result of an injury or normal compression. If you have had a saline implant then the salt water solution will be flushed as normal out of the body. However, if you have the gel implant then gel may enter the surrounding tissue or scar. It might even travel to another part of the body. If this happens then the breast will change in shape and firmness.

If either of these occurs then you will require further surgery to remove the damaged implant.

Other problems include firming of the breast: this is where the breast hardens as a result of calcium deposits in the scar tissue. Another factor is capsular contracture.

Breast enlargement surgery Guide Index:

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