What are the major risks of breast surgery?

Like all surgical procedures, breast surgery is not without risk. Whether you are undergoing a breast lift, reduction, or augmentation, consider these possibilities before committing to the procedure. Risks of breast surgery procedures include infection, reactions to the medications or anesthesia, temporary or permanent numbness or changes in breast sensation, scarring, or a noticeable asymmetry between the breasts.

Breast augmentation, which involves the insertion of saline or silicone breast implants, has a few other potential complications. The most common of these is that the breast implants do not look natural enough. For example, they may be too large or too round, or move out of position following the surgery, a complication known as implant displacement. However, there are ways to avoid this. Discuss the procedure and potential outcomes with your surgeon ahead of time so that you know what to expect after breast surgery.

Another potential complication affecting the appearance of the breasts following augmentation is that of implant rippling. This looks like waves or indentations on the breast surface. Often a result of underfilling the implant – that is, not adding enough saline solution to completely fill the implant – this rippling is caused by saline moving inside the implant.

Breast implants also present the possibility of rupturing or leaking. Saline implants will visibly 'deflate' if ruptured, while silicone ones can rupture without being noticed by the patient. However, breast implants do not rupture easily or often. Though the implants typically have a lifespan of about a decade, only about ten percent rupture within 7 years of the breast augmentation procedure. Instances of chest trauma and related injuries make implant rupture more likely.

Women considering breast augmentation may also be concerned with the possibility that the implants will interfere with breastfeeding or mammograms. While the implants typically do not prevent women from breastfeeding, in some cases they may interfere with mammograms. Implants placed below the muscle generally allow for clearer mammogram readings than those positioned above the muscle.

Rarely, the body may form tightly knit collagen fibers around the implant, which is recognized as a foreign object within the body. This collagen and scar tissue squeezes the implants, and can be painful, sometimes requiring the implants to be removed. This complication of breast augmentation is known as capsular contracture, and it is more common with silicone implants than with saline implants.

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