Breast Surgery Complications
Like any surgery, there are risks and potential complications inherent with an elective surgery like breast augmentation. Patients often feel uncomfortable discussing the potential complications associated with plastic surgery, but patient education is the key in helping to avoid these rare complications and remains one of Dr. Allyson Maske’s top priorities.
Complications with breast surgery fall into three main categories: anesthesia risks, general surgery risks, and cosmetic risks. With a proper pre-surgical consultation matched with post-surgical care and follow-up visits, the majority of these cosmetic surgery complications can be avoided completely.
Some patients may experience adverse effects related to anesthesia. While these reactions are rare, Dr. Maske screens every patient before surgery for an extensive medical history and carefully monitors the patient throughout their breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery to minimize risks and potential complications associated with anesthesia. Dr. Maske is an expertly trained, board certified plastic surgeon and performs all surgical procedures at an accredited hospital should any unforeseen complication arise. All procedures are performed under the guidance of a board certified anesthesiologist. The anesthesia team discusses specific anesthetic risks with each patient before every procedure.
General Surgery Risks
Whether you’re interested in a breast augmentation, breast lift, tummy tuck, or mommy makeover surgery there are general risks associated with any cosmetic or general surgical procedure. Just as with the anesthesia risks these general complications are rare, and Dr. Maske works to avoid them through careful screening and dedicated post-surgical follow-up appointments.
Post-surgical infection is an uncommon complication but can occur within the first few weeks after surgery. Antibiotics may be prescribed after surgery. If an infection arises, the antibiotics are adjusted accordingly. However, in rare and serious cases, an infectious disease consult may be necessary and the breast implant may be removed and replaced.
Another rare complication with breast enhancement is hematoma where blood vessels break and blood pools in a pocket outside a blood vessel. While minor amounts of blood will be disposed of by the body, larger amounts may need to be removed during a second procedure. A seroma is a simple fluid collection and, although rare, can typically be drained in the office if needed.
Other uncommon risks can include excessive bleeding, temporary or permanent nipple sensation loss, delayed wound healing, and breast implant rupture or deflation. Dr. Maske will discuss all risks and potential complications with you before your procedure and carefully screen your family and medical histories for prospective issues.
While breast implants themselves do not cause breast cancer, they can make it more difficult to detect cancer during a self-examination or mammogram. Atlanta Plastic Surgery requires all women looking to receive breast augmentation to obtain a pre-surgery mammogram and encourages women with breast implants to undergo regular mammograms with a technician who is experienced in mammography with augmented breasts.
It is important to discuss your medical history and expectations during your breast surgery consultation.
Cosmetic risks of breast augmentation surgery are rare, like general surgery risks, but do appear in a few patients. Although not typically life threatening, these risks affect the way the augmented breast looks, and can leave the patient unhappy with their surgery results. Oftentimes, these types of complications need to be corrected through breast revision surgery.
Capsular contracture is a condition in which the body forms a lining of tissue similar to scar tissue around a breast implant. This extra tissue can harden and cause the breast to look and feel unnaturally firm. During breast revision surgery, a plastic surgeon can remove the original breast implant along with the hardened tissue surrounding it and replace the implant for a more natural look.
Rippling or wrinkling can occur when the breast tissue is thinner than usual and the wrinkles of the implant show through the skin. This complication happens more often with saline implants than with silicone gel. Rippling is a fairly uncommon complication, but can also be corrected with breast revision surgery.
The majority of women do not have perfectly symmetrical breasts, so there is always a chance that breast augmentation, breast lift, and breast reduction surgeries will increase the visibility of breast asymmetry if your surgeon does not utilize special techniques to balance existing asymmetry. Breast revision surgery for asymmetry can help reduce the uneven look of asymmetric breasts that have been previously augmented.
Levels of Capsular Contracture
Capsular contracture is a breast augmentation complication that occurs when scar-like tissue develops and contracts around the breast implant, making the breasts appear and feel hard. The tissue that grows around the implant is similar to scar tissue and, if left untreated, can become very painful and uncomfortable.
The degree of capsular contracture can differ from patient to patient and is classified on a four-grade scale:
Grade I: The breast appears natural in size, shape, and consistency. The breast is the appropriate softness.
Grade II: The breast is a little firm to the touch, but appears generally normal.
Grade III: The breast is firm and begins to appear abnormal in shape.
Grade IV: The breast is hard and painful to the touch, and appears abnormal in shape.