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Risks of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Now that breast implants have been "cleared" of causing numerous systemic illnesses of which they were suspect, breast augmentation surgeries are on the rise. Women should be aware, however, that there are potential risks to any surgery and breast implants are no exception. While many breast augmentation 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.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) completed an independent review of all past and ongoing scientific research study of silicone breast implant safety in June 1999. Among their major findings were that local complications with silicone breast implants were the primary safety issue with breast implants, that these have not been well studied, and that information on these complications is crucial for women to decide whether or not they truly want to undergo breast implant surgery.

Each patient should investigate the risks of any surgical procedure and discuss them with her surgeon before undergoing the surgery. As a purely elective procedure, the risks of breast implant surgery should be given greater scrutiny. Ironically, the most common reason for repeat breast augmentation surgery is that the patient wants to change the cup size! The most common risks for a breast augmentation surgery are what we call "local" complications. These include implant deflation, capsular contracture, calcium deposits, infection, delayed wound healing, growth of neuromas, hematomas, changes in breast or nipple sensation, implant shifts, bleeding, breast asymmetry, or excessive scarring. When considering these complications, another potential complication must be weighed: the potential need for additional surgeries to replace or remove the original implant. In addition, potential complications of anesthesia must be considered as a risk to any surgery.

While no direct cause and effect link has been identified between breast cancer and breast augmentation, the placement of a breast implant may cause increased difficulty taking and reading a mammogram. This should also be considered as a risk when making the decision to have breast augmentation surgery. It is also advisable to have a baseline mammogram taken prior to breast augmentation surgery.

Created: 2/18/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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