After Years of Being Unhappy with My Breasts, I Am Thinking of Getting Breast Implants. What Are the Risks?

Breast implant surgery comes with a high complication rate. Complications can happen immediately after the surgery or years after. The major health risks of breast augmentation surgery are:

Capsular Contracture – The most common complication of breast implants is capsular contracture. Capsular contracture occurs when the scar tissue tightens around the breast implant. This can cause the breast to feel hard and very painful.

Breast Pain, Redness, or Swelling – As with any surgery, augmentation patients should expect to feel pain immediately after surgery. However, pain that lasts for months or longer can have many different causes and requires treatment. It can be a sign of an infection, especially if the pain is accompanied by redness, swelling, and tenderness. Or it can be a sign of nerve damage, which can be temporary or permanent. The weight of breast implants can strain the muscles in your neck, back, and chest and can cause chronic back pain and shoulder pain, and can even cause permanent damage.

Rupture – If a breast implant tears or develops a hole, it is called a rupture. Some ruptures happen during the first few months, but the older an .implant is, the more likely it is to rupture. It’s not always obvious when an implant has ruptured. Here’s what you need to know. Link?

Autoimmune Symptoms and “Breast Implant Illness”  Breast implant companies were required to complete safety studies before they could sell their implants in the United States. When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved breast implants, they admitted that “studies would need to be larger and longer” to find out if implants could cause the kinds of symptoms and diseases many women were reporting, such as joint pain, “brain fog,” fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms that don’t go away. These health issues seem to be caused by autoimmune or connective tissue problems, and many women with these and other symptoms refer to them as “breast implant illness.” Breast implant illness is not a medical diagnosis and most plastic surgeons reject the term. However, many women with this pattern of health problems report that they recovered dramatically (sometimes completely) after their breast implants were removed.

Interference with Breast Cancer Detection – Breast implants make it more difficult to detect breast cancer when they hide cancer tumors. If you are considering getting breast implants or already have breast implants, it is important to know how they can make mammography and breast exams less accurate.

Infection – Infections can happen after breast augmentation surgery if bacteria get into the incision site. Or bacteria can thrive around and implant. These infections can be serious. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening complication from bacterial infections, has been reported following breast augmentation surgery.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Concerns – Pregnancy can cause drastic changes in breast size and shape, so having implants may affect the shape of breasts after the baby is born. In addition, women with breast implants may find it difficult to produce enough milk due to pressure on the milk ducts from implants or damage to mammary glands or ducts during the implant surgery.

Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) – Cancer experts agree that women with breast implants are more likely to develop ALCL, a rare cancer of the immune system that develops in the scar tissue (capsule) that forms around a breast implant.

Extrusion – Extrusion, or when a breast implant comes through the skin and becomes exposed, is an uncommon, but dangerous, complication of breast implant surgery.

In addition to the health risks, there also are financial costs. For more information about the costs of breast implants, click here.

All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.