Breast implants can make it more difficult to read standard mammograms, but additional techniques have been developed. Women at risk of breast cancer will need to consider this prior to making a decision about whether to have implants. Saline filled implants, or cohesive silicone gel implants can be placed under the chest muscle so that they will interfere less with mammograms, but other factors also need to be considered. Your surgeon will discuss this with you fully.
Breast augmentation is usually performed on an outpatient basis so it is important to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you the first night following surgery.
Individual factors and personal preferences will help you and your surgeon determine your appropriate breast size, the location of incisions, and whether the implants will be placed on top of or underneath the chest muscle.
Cohesive silicone gel implants are now available in Canada. Health Canada has determined that cohesive silicone gel implants are safe for use. The cohesive gel does not seep, run or shift. Silicone gel implants tend to give a more natural appearance than saline implants: they feel more like real breast tissue. Cohesive silicone gel implants do not normally ripple or fold as saline implants sometimes do. Silicone gel implants have been available in Europe for several years and have an excellent safety record. If you prefer to receive cohesive gel silicone implants rather than saline implants, you should discuss this with your surgeon during your consultation.
Once the incision is made, the surgeon creates a pocket into which the implant will be inserted. This pocket is made either directly behind the breast tissue or underneath the pectoral muscle which is located between the breast tissue and chest wall.
After surgery, some bruising and swelling may occur initially, but this will disappear quickly. Most residual swelling will resolve within a month. After breast augmentation surgery, it is often possible to return to work within just a few days or a week.
Some potential complications of breast augmentation include reactions to anesthesia, blood accumulation that may need to be drained surgically and infection. Although rare, an infection that does not subside with appropriate treatment may require temporary removal of the implant. Changes in nipple or breast sensation may result from breast augmentation surgery, though they usually are temporary.
When a breast implant is inserted, a layer of scar tissue or ‘capsule’ forms around it as part of the natural healing process. The capsule may sometimes tighten and compress the implant, causing the breast to feel firmer than normal. This is called capsular contracture. Capsular contracture can occur to varying degrees. If it is severe, it can cause discomfort or changes in the breast’s appearance. In such cases, more surgery may be needed to modify or remove the scar tissue, or perhaps remove or replace the implant.
Breast implants are not lifetime devices. They cannot be expected to last forever. Surgery will be required to replace your implants, if they rupture.
Except in the event of implant deflation, the results of your breast augmentation surgery should be long-lasting: the lifetime of implants is thought to be at least 10 – 20 years.