Top 5 Breast Implant Facts and The 1st Regret Women Have Afterward
Breast implants play an important role in quality of life issues for many women―especially for those in need of reconstruction after breast cancer surgery or trauma, to correct developmental defects, or to correct or improve the results of a previous surgery. For others, it is a strictly cosmetic issue in a society where bigger is better and where youth is associated with looking “perky.” Unfortunately however, regardless of the need for breast augmentation, “having a boob job done” even by a highly regarded and trained plastic surgeon remains fraught with complications aside from the common fear of leakage of a breast implant.
To help women make an informed consumer and medical decision regarding whether or not to have breast implant surgery, the FDA recently issued a ”5 Things to Know About Breast Implants” Consumer Update to act as a guide that forewarns not only what complications can occur, but what a woman needs to do to maintain her breast implants once she gets them.
The following is a summary of the FDA’s 5 must-know implant facts about breast implants before deciding on whether breast implants are the right choice for you, plus the No. 1 regret many women have after they realize that they can never go back.
Breast Implant Fact #1: Breast implants are not lifetime devices.
According to the FDA, the longer a woman carries breast implants, the greater are the chances that she will develop complications, some of which will require additional surgery to treat medical complications such as breast pain and atrophy, capsular contracture, extrusion of the implant through the skin or toxic shock syndrome. Cosmetic reasons for additional surgery include asymmetry, deflation, malposition, and unsatisfactory size and style.
“The life of these devices varies according to the individual,” says Gretchen Burns, a nurse consultant at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). “All women with implants will face additional surgeries—no one can tell them when.” While a few women have kept their original implants for 20-30 years, “that is not the common experience.”
Breast Implant Fact #2: You must do your breast implant research.
Approved breast implants come with a Summary of Safety and Effectiveness Data (SSED) for each implant that lists their characteristics and the types of fillers used whether it be a silicone gel or the relatively safer saline solution. Included in the SSEDs are information about the indications for use, risks, warnings, precautions, and studies associated with FDA’s approval of the breast implant as well as the frequency of serious complications found in a particular manufacture or implant type.
The FDA advises women considering breast implant surgery to ask their surgeon ahead of time for the latest product review before making a decision.
Breast Implant Fact #3: Communicate with the surgeon.
Surgeons must evaluate the shape, size, surface texture and placement of the implant and the incision site for each woman. As such, any information that you can provide about previous surgeries where excessive scarring may have occurred can help your surgeon decide how best to approach the surgery.
In addition, before committing to having breast implant surgery is the time to let your surgeon know what your desires are in an implant as well as your fears and concerns. Don’t wait until you are flat on your back on a gurney while being wheeled to the operating room.
Breast Implant Fact #4: Learn about long-term risks.
Although breast implants are approved by the FDA as being considered generally safe, this does mean that they are necessarily risk-free. In some cases involving women with breast implants there have been associations with incidences of connective tissue diseases, lactation difficulties and reproductive problems. Furthermore, the FDA has identified a possible association between breast implants and the development of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma not to be confused with breast cancer. Women who have breast implants may have a very small but increased risk of developing ALCL in the fluid or scar tissue surrounding the implant.
Breast Implant Fact #5: Implants are high maintenance and monitoring them is crucial.
According to the FDA women with breast implants should:
• promptly report any unusual signs or symptoms to their health care providers, and report any serious side effects to MedWatch, FDA’s safety information and adverse event reporting program.
• have MRI screenings when carrying silicone implants to detect silent ruptures three years after their surgery and every two years after that, which may not be covered by your medical health insurance provider
• continue to perform self-examinations and get mammograms to look for early signs of cancer. “Just because you have implants doesn’t mean you can ignore other breast health recommendations,” states Ms. Burns.
The No. 1 Regret Many Women Have Afterward
According to the FDA, as many as 20 percent (1 in every 5 women) who receive breast implants for augmentation wind up having to have their implants removed within 8 to 10 years due to complications.
The sad result of this is that for many women who choose to not continue to have their implants replaced after removal find much to their regret that there is no going back to the way the breasts used to look. Often times the natural breast is left looking unnatural with cosmetically undesirable dimpling, puckering, or sagging of their natural breasts that will require additional major cosmetic reconstructive surgery.
For additional information about the complications with breast implants and images of the resulting cosmetic effects on the breasts, follow the link titled “Risks of Breast Implants” from the FDA website.
Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile
Reference: U.S. Food and Drug Administration— “5 Things to Know About Breast Implants”