Women who have received breast augmentation surgery sometimes experience complications. Because unfortunately, complications arise even after the best surgeries. This is why it is essential to watch for issues and keep your surgeon informed about your health after cosmetic surgery.
Thankfully, most breast augmentation surgeries do not lead to complications. However, when they do, patients often require additional operations to fix the problem.
These types of complications only fall into two categories. Here are two breast augmentation complications that require a second surgery and how cosmetic surgeons address the issue.
1. Capsular Contracture
Natural tissue usually reacts when foreign bodies or tissue is introduced, and breast implants are no exception. Occasionally after breast implant surgery, the tissue within the breast pocket can develop an immune response. When this happens, the immune system wraps collagen fibers around one or both implants. These fibers form into scar tissue that hardens the breast and even leads to the breast becoming misshapen.
This condition is capsular contracture, and it occurs in around 1.9% to 2.3% of all patients who undergo breast augmentation surgery. Many people assume the hardening will go away naturally by massaging it. While a light massage can help, the contracture can still become stronger. And if left untreated, this complication leads to a variety of issues including cosmetic defects and physical pain.
Types of Scarring Complications
The severity of capsular contractures is measured in grades, with grade one contractures causing very few problems. Grade two contractures create more firmness, while grade three contractures make the breast hard and look unnatural. Finally, grade four contractures cause pain and severe visual changes.
Grade three and four capsular contractures are considered severe. In order to remedy this complication, you may need additional operations. These operations will reduce pain and improve the overall size and shape of the breasts.
To correct capsular contractures, surgeons can use a variety of different methods. It is possible for physicians to treat the early stages of contracture by offering the patient medication which reverses the swelling. However, more severe contractures may require a capsulectomy, which completely removes the implant and the capsulized scar tissue.
Preventing Scarring Breast Tissue
Changing the implant placement technique potentially lessens the risk of developing a contracture. For example, placing the implant under the chest muscle decreases the risk of scarring. However, breast implants may still need to be removed either temporarily or permanently in order to prevent recurring complications.
Most of the time, however, surgical revisions can relieve pain caused by tightness and inflammation, while still retaining breast size. These simple revisions help women live healthier and more comfortable lives without more lengthy procedures.
2. Implant Rupture
Breast implants have changed significantly since their inception. For example, newer models are more durable than ever before. However, breast implants can still rupture. This can happen particularly under additional stresses such as pressure from capsular contracture or trauma caused by car accidents.
Implants can also rupture due to manufacturing defects, which is why you should mention any changes to your surgeon immediately. Although rare, studies have shown that most implant ruptures occur between 10 and 15 years after the initial surgery.
Furthermore, the frequency of a ruptured implant depends on the types of implants used. For instance, ruptures occur as often as 32% in patients who have received silicone gel implants. While saline-filled silicone breast implants only rupture about 10% of the time within the first 10 years.
Detecting a Ruptured Implant
Because an MRI can detect problems in soft tissue, physicians use this test to look for possible breast implant ruptures. If you have a rupture, the FDA recommends removing both implants at the same time. By way of explanation, this recommendation is made because, eventually, both implants would need replacement in the future anyway.
While it can be scary to hear that an implant has ruptured, modern saline implants pose little risk to the patient. Older versions of silicone implants actually posed a greater risk to patients. In either situation, experts recommend complete implant removal and replacement to prevent discomfort, infections, and cosmetic deformities.
Additional Risk Prevention
While no surgical procedure presents a 0 percent risk, the following surgical practices help reduce the risk of the aforementioned side effects.
First, proper cleansing and sanitation. One reason contractures develop is external bacteria entering the body on the implant. By properly cleaning the implant and the surgical area, the chances of transference go down. As a result, the risk of implant rejection also goes down.
Secondly, minimal implant handling. The more that an implant is handled before placement, the more there is a risk of a rupture. This mainly goes for saline implants, but gummy bear implants still can break or develop a textural defect. Not to mention the risk of picking up bacteria.
Either way, when handled appropriately, a breast implant will function properly for its maximum lifespan.
Third, using the properly sized implant. It should go without saying that an implant should fit the patient to a t. However, for whatever reason, mix-ups and mistakes happen.
Obviously, if an implant is too large or small for the breast pocket, there will be negative results. Either the breast can feel stretched or too tight if the implant is too large, or it will feel softer and have less volume.
Properly trained and certified surgeons know and follow these best practices to ensure you get the optimal results.
Breast Surgery at The Surgical Clinic
Remember, if you start experiencing any issues with your breast implants, seek the guidance of a plastic surgeon. Preferably, a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The board-certified plastic surgeons at The Surgical Clinic are completely committed to providing professional treatment focused on our patients.
Additional cosmetic procedures offered by our surgeons include breast lifts, tummy tucks, breast reconstruction, facelifts, and eyelid surgery.
By upholding the highest standards of medical care in Tennessee, we aim to bring you the best medical care available. Learn more about our surgeons or schedule a consultation today by giving us a call. You can also visit one of our offices located throughout the Greater Nashville Area.
Our Surgeons Who Offer Breast Augmentation Surgery
E. Dwayne Lett, MD, FACS
The Lett Center – Mt. Juliet and Lebanon
Robert F. Garza, MD, FACS
Garza Plastic Surgery