Preparing For Surgery
Breast enlargement surgery is a relatively straightforward procedure with few complications when performed by an expert. As with most operations, there are potential risks involved with all types of breast surgery. While these risks are small, it is important to be aware of potential complications associated with your surgery. You can also actively reduce potential problems by adhering to the pre and post-operative instructions given to you by your surgeon.
Immediately following surgery
In the first few days following breast enhancement surgery you may expect swelling, firmness of the breast, and a degree of discomfort. Bruising and twinges of pain are common. Changes in breast and nipple sensation can also occur. This is usually temporary but in some cases may be permanent.
Symptoms that require immediate contact with your surgeon include:
- Excessive swelling of one or both sides
- Wound discharge
- Excessive pain
- Red, hot, tender breasts
- Night sweats
Swelling – Excessive swelling might mean you have developed a collection of blood around the implant. This is called a haematoma, and in most cases it needs to be surgically drained. This does not affect the outcome of your surgery, and occurs in up to 5% of cases.
Discharge – Wound discharge that is clear might represent a seroma, which is a collection of straw-coloured fluid around the implant. Usually this is not serious, but it may need to be drained to speed up your healing. Discharge can also be an early sign of infection and should be brought to the attention of your surgeon.
Infection – Infection usually occurs in the first few weeks following surgery. In this situation the implants will normally need to be removed, with replacement of implants being inserted at a later date (2 to 3 months later). Any offensive wound discharge, sensation of ‘heat in the breasts’, chills or night sweats might be a sign of infection. This is extremely rare and occurs only in a small percentage of women (around 1–2 %).
Capsular contracture (hardening of the breasts) – Capsular contracture is a rare but recognised complication of breast augmentation. A capsule is a fibrous layer that the body forms around a foreign body, such as a breast implant, which normally remains soft and imperceptible. After time it can harden and contract, distorting the shape and the feel of the breast. Symptomatic capsular contracture will sometimes result in a need for further surgery.
Implant Rupture – On rare occasions, the implant shell may split or ‘rupture’. A rupture may be caused by injury or wear and tear over many years. Modern generation implants are considerably more robust than previous generation implants and do not need routine replacement in the absence of any symptoms. In very rare instances, silicone from a ruptured implant may spread outside the scar tissue capsule, creating lumps called silicone granulomas. These can cause tenderness in the armpit, but are not dangerous. Modern generation implants are considerably more robust than previous generation implants and do not need routine replacement in the absence of any symptoms. Remember, while there is no fixed date at which you will require another operation, breast enlargement usually implies having further breast surgery at some time in your life. This may be to change implants, lift your nipples, or perform any other adjustments that might become necessary as the breast ages. Please note: With MyBreast’s five-year aftercare, you are covered for capsular contracture and rupture.
Scarring – Most breast enlargement scars today are fairly inconspicuous and heal well. But in some cases the scar may take years to mature. The way your body heals is, to a large extent, out of your or your surgeon’s control. Scarring can be influenced by various topical applications and massage.
Breast asymmetry – It is normal for one breast to be different from the other. These differences are sometimes enhanced following breast enlargement. If you are concerned about breast asymmetry pre-operatively, this is something you need to discuss with your surgeon.
Implant-induced asymmetry – On rare occasions, the implants will sit differently in each breast for a variety of reasons. Further surgery may sometimes be appropriate.
Rippling and wrinkling – Implants are made to be soft by design. This means that they naturally ripple and wrinkle. In normal circumstances, where there is adequate breast tissue, this is rarely a problem and is seldom seen. However, in very slim individuals who lack adequate breast volume, and have little subcutaneous fat, rippling and wrinkling may become apparent. In some cases this is difficult to correct.
Nipple and breast sensation – The sensation in your breast or nipple, or both, can be altered following breast enlargement surgery. Your breasts may become more sensitive or numb for a short period of time. It is unusual for these changes to be permanent.
Implant rotation – This is only a potential problem with tear drop (anatomical) implants. In those cases where it does occur further surgery will usually be required.
Expectations – Selection of implant size is part of a complex decision-making process and needs to be considered and discussed carefully with your surgeon. It is difficult to guarantee outcomes in terms of size or cup size. Note, revision policy does not cover revisional surgery to correct over- or under-augmentation of the breast.
Silicone safety – For information on the safety of silicone implants read the directors blog on the subject Breastfeeding Department of Health guidelines indicate that it is perfectly safe to breastfeed after breast augmentation.
Changes over time – Over time your breast shape may change. Factors that influence this include the natural ageing process, breastfeeding or pregnancy, and significant changes in weight.