Breast Augmentation Risks, Issues, & Complications: What Should I Prepare For?

Dr. Sacha Obaid, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Dallas, Plano, Southlake, and Nearby Fort Worth, Texas

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By Sacha Obaid

Breast augmentation surgery is something that requires preparation. That’s why Dr. Obaid has consultations beforehand and follow-up appointments after! But you can do your part to understand possible risks and complications as soon as you’re ready. Not only will you be able to ask the right questions of your surgeon, but you’ll boost your peace of mind. If you’re properly prepared for surgery and follow your surgeon’s instructions afterward, it’s likely you won’t experience complications and will enjoy great results!

Common Misconceptions About Breast Augmentation Surgery and Results

Any surgery has misinformation surrounding it. Below are some common misconceptions about the breast augmentation.  procedure and breast augmentation risks. Getting the facts will help you properly prepare for your results:

Bigger is always better.

It might be tempting to opt for large implants, but this can increase your risk of complications. Implants that are the right size for your frame look more natural and are less likely to cause problems later on.

Recovery is swift.

You’ll have to wait 7 to 10 days after surgery to resume low-impact exercise and should wait 3 weeks to return to cardio workouts. Recovery in general can be made more convenient by arranging to have someone nearby to help with anything your surgeon asks that you avoid.

You can’t breastfeed.

Most women who have breast surgery can breastfeed afterward without any problems; however, some women with breast implants find that they don’t have a good supply of milk. Speak to your surgeon if you have concerns.

Breast implants last forever.

Implants aren’t designed to last a lifetime; at some point you will need to have surgery to replace your implants with a new set.

Understanding Breast Augmentation Risks and Complications

There are two main categories of breast augmentation risks:

1. Surgical risks

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia

2. Post-surgery risks:

  • Infection
  • Hematoma
  • Blood clot
  • Breast pain
  • Changes in sensation or shape in the breasts or nipples
  • Dissatisfaction with the outcome of surgery

Possible complications of breast augmentation include:

  • Delayed wound healing – Incisions take longer to heal than normal.
  • Inflammation or irritation of incisions
  • Infection – If infection develops, it’s usually within a few days of surgery. If the infection doesn’t respond to antibiotics prescribed by your surgeon, your implants may need to be removed.
  • Necrosis (death) of skin or fat cells in the breast area – Common causes of necrosis include infection, chemotherapy, and smoking.
  • Displacement of the breast implant from its proper position – This may be caused by gravity or by injury or trauma to the breast.
  • Capsular contraction – This occurs when scar tissue forms around the implant and squeezes it. It can cause the breast to appear misshapen.
  • Saline implant rupture – This may cause the implant and the breast to deflate.
  • Silicone implant rupture – This may or may not cause symptoms.
  • Skin “tenting” – The skin stretches over the breastbone, causing the breasts to appear poorly separated. This most often occurs when implants are too large.
  • Skin rippling or wrinkling over the implant – This is often due to implants of an inappropriate size or shape.
  • Ptosis, or breast sagging – This tends to occur naturally with age, as breast skin starts to sag.

How Can You Reduce the Chance of Complications?

There is a lot that you can do to reduce the risks associated with your surgery:

See a good surgeon.

The best way to minimize your breast augmentation risk is to see an experienced surgeon who has performed many breast augmentation procedures and still performs them on a regular basis. This ensures that your surgeon knows how to perform your procedure on a wide range of body types, is prepared for any complications that may arise, and uses current techniques and equipment.

It’s also important to choose a surgeon who is certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). If your surgeon is board-certified with both of these organizations, you can be sure they’re a trained plastic surgeon and familiar with current surgery techniques.

Give thought to your implants.

Women who have problems with their breast implants sometimes experience them because they’ve chosen implants that are too large for their frame. A good surgeon will be able to help you choose the right implant size and shape for your body. With the appropriate implants, you’re more likely to be happy with the outcome of your surgery and less likely to have problems like skin tenting.

Follow your surgeon’s instructions.

breast augmentation risks

Your surgeon will have many recommendations and instructions for you, both before and after your surgery. To get the best results, follow these instructions exactly. For instance, displacement of breast implants can be caused by high-impact exercise done too soon after surgery. Following your surgeon’s instructions about when to resume exercise will help prevent this problem.

If you’re a smoker, you’ll be asked to stop for the four weeks leading up to your surgery and the six weeks after surgery. This is important because smoking reduces your blood-oxygen levels, which can delay wound healing.

Some medications and supplements aren’t safe to take when you’re having surgery. For example, if you take blood thinners, you’ll be asked to stop taking them for two weeks before your surgery. This reduces your risk of bleeding too much during and after your procedure.

Good News! The Risk of Major Complications Is Low

Breast implants are some of the most well-researched medical devices in use. There have been many studies conducted that show that implants are safe, effective, and have a low risk of complications. This is true for silicone as well as saline implants.

All IDEAL®, MENTOR®, and Sientra® breast implants used in the U.S. have obtained FDA approval and have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they’re safe and reliable. Surgical techniques to place implants and techniques such as liposuction and fat transfer for breast augmentation are approved by both the ABPS and the ASPS.

It’s true that there are potential risks and complications that go along with having breast augmentation surgery—just like any other surgery. But don’t let that hold you back, because the risk of experiencing problems is low. For instance, in one study on breast implants, the risk of hematoma, infection, or significant scarring after surgery was just 2%.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, major complications after breast augmentation with fat transfer are extremely rare. With liposuction alone, for instance, the risk of serious complications is around 0.07%.

The ASPS also notes that for fat transfer in particular, the results are highly dependent on the skill level of the surgeon—so by choosing a good surgeon and following their instructions, you’ll reduce your risk even further!