Breast Implants- Complications

Breast surgery is not very complex but like most surgical procedures complications can and do occur. Most complications of breast surgery are minor in mature but sometimes the complications can be permanent. The best method of limiting your complications and also have an excellent cosmetic result is to seek a board certified plastic surgeon

Bleeding: The breast is a very vascular structure and has a propensity to bleed. During any breast surgery, the failure to control the blood vessels can lead to bleeding. The bleeding is quite evident in the drains which are usually left in by the surgeon. Mild cases of bleeding may stop but all moderate or continuous cases of bleeding need to be re- explored in the operating room.

Hematoma: Sometimes pools of blood may collect and remain in the breast. This blood collection may be removed via a needle or may need surgery.

Seroma: Sometimes fluid can build up in the breast. In most cases, the excess fluid is usually drained with the tube left in by the surgeon. If the fluid collection is small, the body will absorb it but large collections usually require treatment. If the tube is prematurely removed, the fluid will collect in the breast area and in most cases will need aspiration with a needle or with surgery.

Implant displacement: Displacement of the implant is not unheard of. The displacement can occur anytime after surgery but usually occurs soon after surgery. Implant displacement is most common with very large implants placed above the chest muscles. All implants move slightly but may not be obvious. If the implants do move significantly/migrate, surgery may be required to restore their position.

Infection: infection after breast surgery is rare but can occur. The infections usually occur soon after surgery. The infection typically starts at the incision site and if mild can be controlled with antibiotics. Any major infection usually requires removal of the implant. The breast implant can only be replaced 6-8 weeks after the infection has completely cleared.

Necrosis: Sometimes the skin around the breast will become necrotic and die. This usually occurs if the implant is large and the incision is closed under tension. Loss of skin tissue always risks exposure of the implant. For milder skin necrosis, one may play a watchful game but if large amounts of skin tissue are dead, removal of the implant is required. Whenever, skin necrosis occurs, there is always scarring which results in a permanent deformity.

Skin necrosis can be expected to occur when the individual:

- is a smoker

- uses steroids

- is diabetic

- has had prior radiation therapy to the chest wall

- is taking chemotherapeutic drugs

Mammography: Having breast implants can interfere with mammograms. Because the implants compress the breast tissue, Mammograms fail to visualize the entire breast. In addition, there is always a risk of implant rupture with mammograms.

An alternative to the use of mammograms is ultrasound or MRI.

One should note that mammogram is still the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer. There is always a chance of missing a breast cancer when mammograms are not performed properly.

Any female who has a personal or family history of breast cancer, should think twice before having breast implants

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