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Reducing Breast Augmentation Surgery Side Effects

Q: I am planning to have breast augmentation surgery in a few months, which I've been looking forward to for years. I am aware that the surgery has many potential side effects. Is there anything I can do to reduce them?

Dr. Donnica:
This is a question that every person considering ANY type of surgery should ask their doctor as soon as they know they are having surgery. In general, anything that you can do to improve your overall health before surgery may increase your odds of a good outcome. For example, if you smoke, stop. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Take your multivitamins (with iron for most women) and calcium supplements daily. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses per day). You may need to stop taking certain medications. Avoid alcohol in the week before surgery. Most importantly, talk to your surgeon about other risk reducing behaviors.

While many breast augmentation surgery risks can be reduced by choosing a qualified, experienced, board-certified breast surgeon, no surgeon can guarantee a risk-free procedure or a "perfect" result. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure, such as the effects of anesthesia, infection, swelling, redness, and bleeding.

There are also complications specific to breast implants. A new methodology for breast augmentation with saline-filled breast implants has been proposed to reduce local complications significantly, as well as to reduce the incidence of repeat surgeries. The most common reason for a repeat operation is to change cup size, so be sure that you know exactly what cup size you want. The second most common reason for breast implant re-operation is to improve the "natural feel" of the breast. To address this complaint, ask for "smooth implants" which wrinkle less underneath the skin, giving the breasts a more natural feel. The third most common reason for breast implant re-operation is to treat capsular contracture, an unpredictable complication that occurs when scar tissue, which naturally forms around the implant, tightens and squeezes it. To reduce the risk of this complication, ask your doctor if she uses a "no-touch" technique. Many women also complain about scarring and the increased appearance of veins after surgery. Their appearance will become less apparent over time. Of course, all of these risk factors are points to consider before having the surgery to help you decide if you really want to go through with this.

Created: 1/24/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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