Breast implants, whether they are silicone or saline, are durable and long lasting, and any damage to them is rare. Most patients never experience any complications from their breast implants. Unfortunately, even though complications are not expected, they can still occur. Complications such as implant rupture, shifting, capsular contracture, and bottoming out are all possible after breast augmentation and can create aesthetic problems as well as physical pain.
Potential Implant Complications
When you think about what can go wrong with breast implants, the first thing you will probably think of is implant rupture. Although this occurs very rarely, it is a well-known complication that is often joked about in movies and media. Implant rupture can occur in both saline and silicone implants. A ruptured saline implant is easily identifiable. Saline implants are a sterile saline solution held together by a silicone shell, and therefore a rupture will be followed by the immediate “deflation” of the implant as the solution escapes into the body. Ruptures of silicone implants are not as easy to spot and are often only identified with an MRI. This is because the silicone gel will not readily move after the shell has been compromised. While the breaking of an implant sounds like a dangerous and complicated situation, it can be easily remedied. In both situations, the damaged implant shell is removed, and in cases of a silicone rupture, the escaped silicone material is collected. Once the damaged implant is gone, and the area has been cleaned, a new implant is inserted into the breast pocket.
While still rare, capsular contracture is the most common complication associated with breast implants. When anything foreign is added to your body, a layer of scar tissue forms around it. Occasionally, this scar tissue tightens and contracts around the implant, squeezing it until it becomes deformed. This situation leads to an aesthetically displeasing appearance and can be very uncomfortable. There are other complications that may affect the scar tissue around the breast, so if you notice the distortion of an implant or experience any pain in your breast, visit your plastic surgeon right away. Revision surgery is the only way to relieve discomfort from capsular contracture. The implant and tightened tissue must be removed before a new implant is inserted.
While implants are designed to stay within the breast pocket, they can shift. This is possible for implants inserted both above and below the pectoral muscle. When implant shifting occurs, you may be left with a breast appearance that seems aesthetically “wrong.” Revision surgery will be required to remedy the problem.
How Can These Be Fixed?
Unfortunately, implant complications will not fix themselves. In situations where the implant is damaged, breast revision surgery is necessary to relieve discomfort and restore the appearance of the breasts. In some cases, breast revision surgery can be performed through the same incisions as your initial breast augmentation so that new scarring is limited. More information on the safety of breast implants and possible complications can be found on the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website.
To learn more about breast revision or to determine if something is wrong with your breast implants, contact Dr. O’Toole at Pasadena Cosmetic Surgery by calling (626) 671-1756 to set up a consultation.