March 27, 2000 (Chantilly, Va.) -- The following are excerpts from
guidelines issued by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
to doctors who are preparing informed consent forms for women considering
breast implant surgery. The guidelines identify 26 separate risks,
Risk of rupture and leaks. Breast implants, similar to other medical
devices, can fail. Implants can break or leak. When a saline-filled implant
deflates, the liquid is absorbed by the body. Rupture can result from an
injury, from no apparent cause, or during mammography. Damaged or broken
implants cannot be repaired; ruptured or deflated implants require replacement
or removal. Breast implants cannot be expected to last forever.
Mammography. Breast implants may make mammography more difficult and may
obscure the detection of breast cancer. Implant rupture can occur from breast
compression during mammography.
Skin wrinkling and rippling. Visible and palpable wrinkling of implants can
occur. Some wrinkling is normal and expected. This may be more pronounced in
patients who have saline-filled implants or thin breast tissue. An implant may
become visible at the surface of the breast as a result of the device pushing
through layers of skin.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Although many women with breast implants have
successfully breastfed their babies, it is not known if there are increased
risks in nursing for a woman with breast implants or if the children of women
with breast implants are more likely to have health problems. There is
insufficient evidence regarding the absolute safety of breast implants in
relation of fertility, pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
Calcification. Calcium deposits can form in the scar tissue surrounding the
implant and may cause pain, firmness, and be visible on mammography. These
deposits must be identified as different from calcium deposits that are a sign
of breast cancer. Should this occur, additional surgery may be necessary to
remove and examine calcifications.
Michael D. Towle is based in Chantilly, Va., and writes regularly on health
and legal issues for WebMD.
Women can get breast implants to make their breasts bigger and fuller. That can be done for reconstructive purposes, such as after mastectomy for breast cancer, or for cosmetic reasons.
This article covers cosmetic breast augmentation only. It discusses the types of breast implants available, the procedures used, and possible complications.