Complications of breast implants
Posted on 20th July 2022 at 08:46
Breast implants might help you to enhance your appearance if you think your breasts are small or if that one is smaller than the other. They can also transform sagging (ptotic) breasts after weight loss or pregnancy, and ultimately, they can improve your self-confidence. Breast implants are also used following a mastectomy as part of breast reconstruction. However, undergoing breast augmentation or breast reconstruction following cancer has risks – even for those who are fit and healthy with no underlying health conditions. Unfortunately, there are common complications of breast implants, and these must be considered before deciding to have the procedure. This article is going to list the common side effects of breast augmentation surgery and how they can be minimised or dealt with.
What is breast augmentation?
Breast augmentation – also known as augmentation mammoplasty – is surgery performed to increase breast size. It involves placing breast implants under the breast tissue (subglandular) or chest muscles (submuscular). For some women, breast augmentation is a way to increase self-esteem. For others, it's part of rebuilding the breast for various conditions, such as recovering from cancer and a mastectomy (when cancerous breasts are removed). If you're considering breast augmentation, it’s best to talk to a reputable surgeon. You need to make sure you understand what the surgery involves, including any possible risks, complications and follow-up care.
Naren Basu is a renowned Oncoplastic surgeon who was previously the Lead Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at the QE Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital in Birmingham. He also studied and qualified at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospital.
Risks of having breast implants
Breast augmentation, unfortunately, poses various risks, including:
Scar tissue that distorts the shape of the breast implant (capsular contracture)
Changes in nipple and loss of sensation
Implant position changes
Implant leakage or rupture
Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma
Breast Implant Associated Illness
Correcting these complications commonly requires more surgery, and this could be replacing the implants or removing them altogether.
Breast implants and breastfeeding
If you’re thinking about having breast implants but would also like to have children and breastfeed in the future, there are sometimes complications. While it is possible for you to breastfeed with implants, it does depend on the size and placement of the implants and the type of surgery that you've had. If the incisions were made under the fold of the breast or through your armpit, you shouldn’t have any problems with breastfeeding. However, if the incision is around the areola, you could potentially have feeding problems as there's a chance the milk ducts have been cut and this would then have a negative impact on your milk supply.
Breast implants and breast cancer
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified a possible association between breast implants and the development of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This is an uncommon cancer that attacks the immune system. The condition is now known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). The FDA believes that breast implants with textured surfaces have a very low but increased risk of causing BIA-ALCL. Further research is required to understand the relationship between breast implants and ALCL. However, the FDA will require breast implant devices to include a boxed warning, in which the potential risks are listed on the product’s packaging.
Breast implants and autoimmune diseases
For most people, getting breast implants to change their life for the better. However, some people suspect that their implants have had a detrimental effect on their health, with the following autoimmune diseases developing post-operation being recorded:
This is when your immune system (which usually fights infection) attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake, making the joints swollen, stiff and painful. Over time this can cause irreversible damage.
This is a skin condition caused by the immune system attacking the connective tissue under the skin and around internal organs and blood vessels. This causes scarring and thickening of the tissue in these areas.
A disorder of the immune system identified by dry eyes and a dry mouth. The mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands are affected, resulting in decreased tears and saliva.
While previous studies show no clear evidence connecting these conditions to breast implants, there have been some newer studies from different sources that have found an association between silicone breast implants and certain autoimmune diseases. They suggest that silicone breast implants potentially raise your risk of developing an autoimmune disease such as the three mentioned above.
Breast implant illness
Breast implant illness is when a person becomes unwell after having the operation with no clear reason as to why. Reported signs and symptoms of breast implant illness include fatigue, memory loss, skin rashes, trouble concentrating and thinking clearly, plus joint pain. Research is being carried out to determine the link between these symptoms and implants. Removing the implants may reverse the symptoms.
Unfortunately, experiencing a low mood is common following surgery, even when it all goes smoothly. Your body has been through an operation and will feel bruised and in pain. This might disturb your sleep, leading to fatigue and decreased tolerance to everyday stressors. General anaesthetic can last in the body for up to three weeks, and the residue can have both emotional and physical symptoms, including lethargy and depression. Seeing your new breasts for the first time can actually be quite distressing as they won’t look like the finished result for some time. They will most probably look very unnatural due to the swelling and bruising. Following the operation, you have reduced mobility, and recovery can take weeks. Feelings of restlessness, boredom and helplessness can arise.
As you can see, having breast implants is by no means a walk in the park, and the complications and risks may be serious. It’s vital that you carry out thorough research before booking a procedure so that you feel very comfortable with what you’re having done and who is going to perform your surgery. If, for whatever reason, you decide that removing your implants is the right choice for you, remember that this is also further surgery to endure.
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