Are Breast Implants Safe? The Risks and Possible Outcomes
Breast implant surgery remains to be one of the most popular surgical cosmetic surgeries for women. It has been around for many years now, and changing the lives with over thousands of cases done yearly.
According to the ACCS (Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery) president, Dr. Russel Knudsen, there were approximately 16,000 breast augmentation cases in Australia in 2010 alone.
But aside from what it can do to improve the way your chest look, there are also certain risks involved, which boils down to the question on whether breast implants are safe?
What are the risks involved?
The risks involved with breast implants include pain, rupture, capsular contracture, disfigurement, and infection.
Pain and how to avoid it
Pain is something that is always a possible outcome with breast implant surgery. With it being an invasive procedure, it is expected that you would feel pain once the anesthesia wears off. Pain is also present in cases where there is infection or when a patient experiences a capsular contracture.
Pain cannot be eliminated, although the intensity and severity can be minimized when you take pain medications as prescribed. You can also relieve it by applying a cold compress over the area and when you continue to wear the elastic bandage or surgical bra provided after surgery.
If pain is not subsiding or if it is increasing in intensity, it should be time that the patients consult this with their doctor. This could be an indicative sign of a complication, usually an infection. You can avoid pain caused by an infection when you ensure that you keep the surgical site clean and when you follow antibiotic treatment properly.
The risks of breast implant rupture and how to minimize it
Rupture is also a common problem that is brought to light as of recent reports.
There are different causes of implant rupture, but what makes this occurrence dangerous is when the patient is exposed to the material inside. Saline doesn’t make any cause for concern; silicone however would have to be removed.
Implant rupture is always a possibility which is why doctors suggest that once you get implants you need to take yearly exams to regularly assess their condition.
- PIP breast implant rupture scandal
The infamous French PIP (Poly Implant Protheses) implants have been the subject of a number of complaints due to their high rupture rate. Adding to that research has proven that they are made out of industrial grade materials instead of the medical grade fillers. This means that these breast implants contain contaminants.
To be more specific, the implants are made out of cheap industrial silicone that is the same material used to make mattresses. The reason why the manufacturer opted to use these was to cut back on costs. Unfortunately these turned out really bad because the cases of ruptured implants have alarmingly increased. French authorities place it at a 5% rate, while it was a 1% in Britain, which was in line with industry standards. This led those who had the implants to worry about how they are going to be affected by it.
As a result French authorities called for a worldwide alert in December 2011 with 30,000 French women advised to have their breast implants removed.
Today, the final report regarding PIP breast implants released in July 2012 was that the gel material it contained does not have a long-term effect on health. NHS director Prof. Sir Bruce Keogh notes that although they have double the rupture rate compared to other implants, these implants are not toxic or carcinogenic. Watch the video below.
The risk of capsular contracture and how to avoid it
Another risk that one could encounter with breast implants is capsular contracture. This is a painful complication as the body’s reaction to the foreign material – this would be your breast implants. A capsule that is made out of scar tissue forms around the implants. Although this is really a beneficial reaction, it can become painful when the capsule contracts and squeezes on the implant. The severity of pain is graded on the Baker scale, from grade 1 to 4.
Aside from the pain, another concern with capsular contracture is that it can result to implant shifting, deformation and breast hardening.
The surgeon may use certain medications to be applied in the breast pocket to prevent the chances of capsular contracture. The type of placement can also help in preventing capsular contractures. For instance, it is better to have the partial or complete submuscular placement instead of the over-the-muscle approach.
Silicone breast implants are known to have a higher risk for producing capsular contractures, while textured implants are said to have lower incidence with this problem.
Post-operative massage and timely emptying of the drains can also hinder the problem. Taking vitamin E can also help soften collagen fibers, which are one of the basic components of the capsule. Continued use of compression garments during the immediate post-operative period can also avoid capsular contractures.
The possibility of infection and how to minimize it
Infection is also another risk that could result to serious consequences later on. This can be brought about by poor surgical technique, poorly sanitized equipments, or inadequate aftercare. According to a study, it is the leading cause of morbidity after breast augmentation, with some occurring during the immediate post-operative period while some develop in later years.
Infection can be manifested through redness, pain, fever, tenderness, inflammation, and swelling. It could either be one or a combination of any of these symptoms.
The occurrence of infection could lead to delayed healing, the possibility of scar formation and botched results.
One of the best ways to improve a patient’s chances against infection is to religiously follow the antibiotic treatment prescribed by the surgeon. This serves as a prophylactic treatment that helps ensure a safe recovery.
When you clean the surgical site, you should make sure that you handle it with clean hands. Do not carelessly touch the incisions because these could simply introduce bacteria. Avoid bath tubs and swimming pools not unless your incisions have totally healed.
Silicone VS Saline Breast Implants
Are you trying to decide whether to get silicone or saline breast implants? So have a dose of this safety information first and make that body-changing decision.
- Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants is considered to have superior aesthetic results when compared to saline. The reason is because of the more viscous material that the filler comes in. FDA has lifted the moratorium over this type of implants back in 2006, that is why it is widely preferred by a lot of women today. But the caveat is that silicone implants are known to pose more serious health risks if it leaks.
When a silicone implant ruptures, the changes are gradual compared to the immediate changes displayed by saline. But it does not cause connective tissue problems, reproductive problems or breast cancer as previously thought. Although prolonged exposure to leaked silicone can lead to lumps forming in the breast, softening or hardening of the breast that is affected and pain associated with swelling.
That is why a yearly exam is advised by doctors to regularly check the condition of the breast implants. Mammograms are usually the imaging test of choice, although some women express concern over this, afraid that it might rupture the implants. There is no need to worry about this procedure because this is done in a gentle manner, and implants are actually made out of strong materials for the shell. Although it is true that they are subject to wear and tear later on.
But when compared to saline implants, silicone is known to last longer. They can also be fashioned to take different shapes – either round or teardrop. They are also less likely to show rippling which results from folds.
However, in order for it to be placed and positioned inside, a longer incision would have to be made. This means that there is greater risk for scars.
One concern with this type of implants is that just like the recent PIP scandal, they have a similar look and feel to other poor grade breast implants. That is why it is very important to research on the type of implants used by your surgeon, and check to see if the manufacturer is certainly using medical grade material.
- Saline Breast Implants
This is the first filler used for breast implants, and that would be considered to be a safe measure because saline is similar to the fluid composition inside the body. Within 1992 to 2006, saline breast implants are the only ones that are FDA approved for use and production.
It is encased in silicone casing, which can either be prefilled or filled only after the case has been positioned properly inside. This allows the surgeon to assess and control the size of the implants. This also means that a smaller incision would only have to be made reducing the chances of scarring.
If in the event that the breast implant leaks or ruptures, it would not cause certain untoward reactions inside the body. It can either be absorbed or excreted.
However the drawbacks to this type of implant are that might cause visible rippling or deformity due to the consistency of saline. This is also the same reason why these types of breast implants have a much higher risk for breakage.
To avoid missing out on the natural deterioration process or the minor leaks taking place, regular imaging exams are necessary.
Finding the Right Breast Augmentation Surgeon in Australia
Also, you have to be very careful when choosing the right surgeon to perform your breast augmentation in Australia. Their techniques largely determine how the results turn out. That is why you only have to trust a certified surgeon who has the years of experience behind him coupled with a high success rate.
- How to make sure that you find a good cosmetic surgeon?
- Check his educational background
- Research on his level of experience
- Ensure that he has the specialization and certification to perform the surgery
- Ask for before and after photos
- Read reviews and forums
- Assess whether treatment plan is in keeping with your preferences.
photo credit: [Thinkstock]
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