Franklyn Elliott, M.D.
Board Certified in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
President, Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, 2000-2001
Director, Atlanta Breast Surgery Symposium, 1989-2003
Co-Director, Atlanta Breast Surgery Symposium, 2003-Present
Plastic Surgery Complications of the Breast
With a distinguished career in plastic surgery, and more specifically, breast surgery, Dr. Elliott has become a source of referral for those doctors and patients who have had problems with previous breast surgeries and are seeking a doctor with extensive experience. Dr. Elliott has managed all types of difficult problems following surgical procedures. Below is a list of some of his encounters:
Click on a condition to learn specific information:
Complications of Breast Surgery
Breast Hardening / Capsular Contracture
Breast implants themselves do not ever harden. However, the body’s reaction to the implant is to create a capsule of scar tissue around the implant which can create a tightened, overly firm breast. Management of this problem, particularly if it is reoccurring, can be difficult. Dr. Elliott uses new techniques, such as the use of a special “neo-pocket” sleeve, to solve the problem and minimize further complications. Luckily, capsular contracture is not as common a problem as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but it does still occur. However, it can be managed and is almost always improved with the help of an experienced plastic surgeon and the correct after care.
Breast Implant Rupture / Leak
All breast implants have a finite lifetime. However, it is impossible to know what that lifetime is in any set of breast implants. Both saline-filled and gel-filled implants can leak. If a saline implant leaks, the patient knows immediately because the water leaks out and is reabsorbed by their body. Thus, detection of a saline implant leak is easy. The treatment is to simply remove the implant and replace it. If a silicone gel implant leaks it is often only detected by mammogram, and requires new implants as well. Current breast implants appear to have a lifetime of well over 10 years, probably closer to 20-40 years, but the exact length is unknown given the relatively recent nature of the procedure’s invention.
If a breast becomes infected due to complications from an implant, the implant almost always has to be removed. However, breast implants can be preserved in the face of an infection that is just beginning. These cases are judged individually as each patient’s health history and case will necessitate a different plan. If the infection is addressed in a timely manner and approached by an adequately experienced breast revision surgeon, a positive solution can almost always be achieved.
Complications After Breast Reconstruction
Whether the breast is reconstructed with a patient’s own tissue, such as with a TRAM flap, or with a breast implant, complications can occur. Dr. Elliott has extensive experience with both forms of breast reconstruction procedures and has seen and managed complications of all types after breast reconstruction. These complications may involve the breast itself or the abdominal wall if a TRAM flap has been used.
Complications After Breast Radiation
Radiation of the breast or chest wall is relatively common after breast cancer detection. While radiation is a very important component in fighting breast cancer, it also has some negative aspects, including hardening of a breast implant if one is in place and relative poor healing of the breast or chest wall skin. Dr. Elliott has managed many problems like these over the years, and has successfully developed and/or refined treatments for these difficult problems.
Hernia After TRAM Flap Surgery / Abdominal Wall Weakness
Dr. Elliot’s reviews and results show that the incidence of abdominal wall weakness or hernia following a TRAM Flap breast reconstruction is around 3%. However, this may not be true for all surgeons, which is why Dr. Elliott has seen many patients with abdominal wall weakness over the years. Repair of this problem requires surgery in which Dr. Elliott inserts a mesh material for additional abdominal wall support.
Breast Asymmetry-Shape or Size
Breast asymmetry is a common natural occurance in both males and females. In fact, most people have slight (usually non-noticeable) differences in the appearance of their breasts. Breast asymmetry can also occur after breast surgery. Asymmetries can occur with or without breast implants. There are a myriad of techniques including liposuction, breast augmentation, and breast lift (mastopexy) that can be utilized to make the breasts more symmetrical and the patient more pleased. Dr. Elliott has a lot of experience with these types of problems and feels confident that most patients will achieve an excellent result.
Symmastia refers to a complication in which the breasts are too close together in the midline of the chest. This can occur if breast implants are placed too close together at the time of operation. Separation of the implants and breasts themselves can be fairly difficult; however, Dr. Elliott has extensive experience with the capsular work that is needed to separate the breasts and has achieved excellent results with breast revision surgery of symmastia patients.
Breast Implant Displacement / Misplacement
Implant displacement / misplacement is similar to symmastia, and indeed, symmastia is an implant placement problem. Implants can also be misplaced or displaced to the lower part of the breast or to the sides / lateral part of the breast creating an over-sized space between the breasts. Either displacement problem creates breasts that do not look natural or pleasing to the patient. Dr. Elliott has extensive experience with these problems and uses various capsular techniques to relocate the breast implants into proper position for a successful result.
Nipples Too High
The position of the nipples on the breasts can be too high after breast reduction or breast reconstruction. In either situation, the nipples can show with low cut blouses, shirts, or with bathing suits. The nipples can be moved using a surgical procedure, but if the implants have “bottomed out”, or sunk to the bottom of their surgically created pocket, they will need to be surgically repositioned to resolve the illusion of the nipple being too high.