Breast implant safety
Breast implant safety: What are the risks? continued...
Rupture is not the only problem that requires surgery. Over time, breast implants can change shape. One breast might start to look very different from the other. Sometimes, the tissue around the implant hardens, a condition called capsular contracture. Surgery is the only way to fix capsular contracture.
If you have breast implants and want to maintain your breast size and shape for the rest of your life, you should be prepared to have more surgery. The surgery to replace an implant is not as involved as the original procedure. However, the risk of complications is higher.
- Irreversibility. Breast implants may permanently alter your breast tissue. If you decide to have the implants removed, your breasts may not return to the shape they were before the surgery. Your breasts may stay dimpled or wrinkled.
- Changes in appearance and sensation. Breast implants can cause a loss of sensation in the breast and nipple, as well as pain. They can sometimes result in excessive scarring and wrinkling.
- Associated health problems. Some studies have found links between breast implants and certain health conditions. Disturbingly, several studies have found an increased risk of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide in women with breast implants. However, experts generally do not think that breast implants are the cause of these problems. Instead, they suspect that a small minority of women who have breast implants also have underlying psychological problems that can lead to substance abuse or suicide. If you are concerned, discuss the issue with your doctor.
- Surgical complications. Like any surgery, having breast implants poses risks. Some women have surgical infections, bleeding and swelling.
- Other issues. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), breast implants do not usually interfere with breast-feeding. Breast implants can interfere with the accuracy of mammograms that screen for breast cancer.
Breast implant safety: Making the choice
Deciding whether or not to have breast implants - either for reconstruction or augmentation - is not easy. There are a lot of factors to consider.
In the US, studies show that most of the 300,000 women who have breast implants each year are satisfied with them. While many women are still concerned about long-term health risks, research has not found a link between breast implants and serious disease.
Still, having breast implants is an involved procedure. It may commit you to further surgery in the future. Long-term studies of breast implant safety are still ongoing. As with any cosmetic surgery - surgery that is not medically necessary - it is important to be especially careful.
Perhaps the most important thing is to develop realistic expectations. You should trust your surgeon and be able to talk frankly and openly with him or her. Make sure you understand the risks associated with breast implants and that you understand the best and worst case scenarios. The more you know, the more confident you will feel about your decision.