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Breast Implants: Side Effects and Potential Risks

Danielle O.

People choose to undergo breast implant surgery for many reasons. For some, breast implants mean increasing the size or shape of their breast. For others, undergoing breast augmentation surgery means getting their breasts to appear more even.

Breast augmentation and breast implant surgery can give you amazing results. However, like all other surgical procedures, breast enlargement surgery poses some risks that can lead to complications.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common complications associated with breast implants.

Breast Implants

Types of Breast Implants

There are two basic types of breast implants that plastic surgeons use to enhance someone’s breast size.

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone-gel filled breast implants have a silicone outer shell that is filled with silicone gel.

Silicone-gel filled implants are approved for breast implants patients aged 22 and older. It is also used for corrective surgery, which can improve the result of prior surgery.

Saline-Filled Breast Implants

Saline-filled implants have a silicone outer shell filled with a sterile saltwater (saline) solution. some saline implants are pre-filled, while others are filled during breast implant surgery.

Unlike silicone-gel filled breast implants, saline implants can come in either a smooth or textured shell.

Saline breast implants are used for breast augmentation in breast implant patients aged 18 or older. It is also used for reconstruction for women of any age.

Breast Implant Safety Issues

Breast implants do not last a lifetime. Women with breast implants would more likely need surgery to get their implants removed or replaced the longer they have them.

The most frequent complications experienced by many women with breast implants include breast implant illness, capsular contracture, implant rupture, scar tissue and infection.

What Is Breast Implant Illness?

Breast implant illness refers to a wide range of adverse outcomes that can develop following aesthetic plastic surgery. In some cases, it can also refer to autoimmune diseases induced by adjuvants.

Breast Implant Illness can occur with silicone gel implants and saline-filled implants of any shape.

Breast Augmentation Surgery Risks and Systemic Symptoms may include:

  • Joint pain or Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Breathing problems
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Skin rash
  • Dry mouth and dry eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nerve Damage

What Is Capsular Contracture?

Capsular contracture occurs when the body forms fibrous scar tissue around breast implants. This scar tissue could lead the capsule to tighten around and squeeze the implant.

Capsular contracture can cause chronic pain and distortion in the shape of the breast.

In general, people who have had radiation therapy in the past are at an increased risk of developing capsular contracture.

Signs and symptoms of capsular contracture include chronic pain, restricted range of motion, or changes to the position or shape of the breast.

Can Breast Implants Cause Connective Tissue Disease?

Silicone implants have long been linked to a variety of illnesses, including connective tissue disease. However, a large cohort study [1] published in 1995 found no links between silicone breast implants and connective tissue disease.

Can Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

Breast implants do not cause breast cancer. Going through breast surgery and getting a breast implant would also not increase your chances of getting breast cancer.

Having said that, research shows that a woman with breast implants has a higher chance of developing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). [2]

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in a person’s lymphatic system (a part of a person’s immune system) and gets stronger in the blood cells.

It is still unclear why breast implants increase the likelihood of developing ALCL. However, people who have textured implants are 93% to 96% more likely to get ALCL.

Breast Implants

Things To Remember Before Getting Breast Implant Surgery

Breast implants could permanently alter your breast tissue. This means your breasts may not return to the size and shape they had before breast surgery, which means they may appear dimpled or wrinkled following implant removal.

Pregnancy, significant weight loss, or menopause can influence the appearance of your breasts.

Talk to a healthcare professional about the potential risks, benefits and long-term outcomes of breast augmentation before signing up for the procedure.

Breast implants may also significantly affect your breast feeding ability.

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