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Breast Augmentation Risks and Complications

In the last three years, over 1 million women in the U.S. underwent breast augmentation surgery. It’s the most common cosmetic surgery women opt to have and safety records indicate that in most cases, the surgery is safe.

That doesn’t mean breast augmentation doesn’t have risks and complications. While it’s fun to dream about how much self-esteem increase there will be after the procedure, you must do your due diligence and understand all risks associated with this type of cosmetic surgery.

  1. Anticipate a Second or More Operation

Breast implants aren’t diamonds – they don’t last forever. 10 to 15 years after the initial surgery, you’ll want to consider replacing your old implants. That is, if your implants don’t break or deflate before then. This happens in 1% to 2% of cases.

When your implants break or deflate, you might experience any of the following complications:


  • Pain
  • Irregular appearance
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Knots in the breast
  • Tingling
  • Burning

The causes for rupture vary, from trauma, pressure, or just plain old aging of the implants.

Even if you’re 100% satisfied with your breast augmentation now, when you’re older, you might want to consider age-related breast modifications, like breast lift to prevent sagging. You might also want to consider changing your size or the type of implants.

Since medical technology is always improving in this area, by the time you consider your second operation, it’s likely you’ll have more and better options.

  1. Capsular Contracture

It’s normal to have scar tissue (also known as a capsule) to develop around your implants. Capsular contracture is a term for when this scar tissue tightens or squeezes around the implants.

This causes breasts to look and feel different. The worst issue is the pain accompanying the condition because of tightening.

There are varying degrees (grades) of capsular contracture.

Grade I – the breast(s) appears normal

Grade II – the breast(s) still looks normal but feels a bit firm

Grade III – the breast(s) looks abnormal and feels firm

Grade IV – the breast(s) looks abnormal, feels hard and painful

Although there is no set theory as to why this complication occurs, many believe it’s an immunologic response.

To minimize the risk of capsular contracture, a surgeon may opt for submuscular breast implant placement (placing implants beneath the muscle) and using antibiotic solutions to lower the risk of infection.

  1. Dissatisfaction with Outcome

This is not a medical risk or complication, but still deserves mentioning because it’s important. After all, you probably don’t go into getting breast augmentation just to be dissatisfied.

There are many reasons you may not be satisfied with your new breasts. Perhaps your size is too big or small. Maybe you were satisfied at the time, but your breasts change naturally as you got older.

Breasts aren’t like bras at Victoria’s Secret you can try on and off. While “revisions” can be made, that just means more time, pain, and longer recovery. The best thing you can do is to always work with a qualified doctor who explains these risks for you.

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