What are the risks?
Breast augmentation is not straightforward surgery. As with all surgery, there are certain risks associated with it. All surgery involves a degree of bleeding. In the vast majority of cases, this is minimal and easily controlled during the procedure itself. In a small percentage of patients, there may be a more significant collection of blood that may even require a return to the operating theatre to remove it.
Meticulous steps are taken before, during and after the surgery to ensure that the risk of infection is minimal. However, the risk of infection can never be completely eradicated. In a few cases, the incision can become red and inflamed. This usually settles down with simple antibiotics. However, in a very small number of patients, the implant itself can become infected. If this is the case, the implant would have to be removed while the infection is cleared up and would need to be replaced several months later.
All surgery involves the formation of scars. The incision scar will be raised and pink for the first few months, but will usually settle into a fine white line after several months. In some cases the scar can remain raised and pink. There is also scar formation inside the breast around the implant. We call this a ‘capsule’. A capsule is the body’s normal reaction to foreign material (in this case, the implant). In most cases, the capsule remains soft for many years. However, if the capsule tightens around the implant it can cause the breast to feel hard and, sometimes, painful. In these cases it may be necessary to surgically release the tight capsule and replace the implant.
It is safe to say that the sensation to the nipple after the surgery will definitely change. In some women it will become more sensitive, but in some women it will become less sensitive or even numb. In the great majority of patients this settles down after a few months. In very few, however, the change can be permanent.
There is a rare form of cancer, called 'Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma' (BIA-ALCL). We now know this to be associated with breast implants. It is extremely rare (around 1 in 25000 implants) and only appears to appear in patients who have had 'textured' implants placed. I use smooth or semi-smooth shell implants which brings this risk almost down to zero according to current evidence.
Breast Implant Illness (BII) is a more controversial condition as we do not have any evidence to support its existence. However, many thousands of women suffer ffrom a wide range of symptoms which they blame on their implants. Research is ongoing.