What Are the Risks With Breast Implants?
While studies have not found evidence that breast implants, either silicone or saline, are connected with serious disease, there are still risks. There are also long-term implications. Here are some of the breast implant safety issues that you need to consider.
The need for further surgeries. Over time, breast implants wear out and need to be replaced. How long do breast implants last? There's no definitive answer. In general, rupture becomes more likely as breast implants age. The FDA estimates that breast implants should last at least ten years. Studies have shown that some breast implants last much longer than that and others much less.
Rupture isn't the only problem that requires surgery. Over time, breast implants can change shape. One breast might start to look very different from the other. Sometimes, the tissue around the implant hardens, a condition called capsular contracture. Surgery is the only way to fix capsular contracture.
If you get breast implants and want to maintain your breast size and shape for the rest of your life, you should be prepared to have a number of additional surgeries. The surgery to replace an implant is not as involved as the original procedure. However, the risk of complications is actually higher. In addition, insurance rarely pays for these revision surgeries.
Irreversibility. Breast implants may permanently alter your breast tissue. If you decide to have the implants removed, your breasts may not return to the shape they had before the surgery. Your breasts may stay dimpled or wrinkled.
Changes in appearance and sensation. Breast implants can cause a loss of sensation in the breast and nipple, as well as pain. They can sometimes result in excessive scarring and wrinkling.
Associated health problems. Some studies have found associations between breast implants and certain health conditions. Disturbingly, several studies have found an increased risk of alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide in women with breast implants. However, experts generally don't think that the breast implants are the cause of these problems. Instead, they suspect that a small minority of women who get breast implants also have underlying psychological problems that can lead to substance abuse or suicide. If you’re concerned, discuss the issue with your doctor.
Surgical complications. Like any surgery, getting breast implants poses risks. Some women have surgical infections, bleeding, and swelling.
Other issues. Some studies suggest that breast implants can make breastfeeding more difficult or impossible. They may prevent a woman from producing milk. Breast implants can also interfere with the accuracy of mammograms that screen for breast cancer.
Choosing Breast Implants
Deciding whether or not to get breast implants -- either for reconstruction or augmentation -- is not easy. There are a lot of things you have to weigh.
Keep in mind that studies show that most of the 300,000 women who get breast implants each year are satisfied with them. While many women are still concerned about long-term health risks, research has generally not found an association between breast implants and serious disease.
Perhaps the most important thing is to develop realistic expectations. Find a doctor you really trust and talk frankly and openly. Make sure that you understand the risks of breast implants. Make sure you understand the best and worst case scenarios. The more you know, the more confident you'll feel in your decision.