Silicone breast implants are medical devices fitted under the breast tissue or chest muscle to increase the size of a woman’s breasts for aesthetic reasons or for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. This popular cosmetic surgery is a major procedure, but it can greatly improve a woman’s confidence in her body.
Before you decide if silicone implants are right for you, it’s important to consider some of the popular myths around implant surgery so you can make an informed decision.
Breast Reconstruction With Implants Requires Just One Surgery
Although breast augmentation surgery may be completed in one surgery, when silicone implants are used as part of reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, several operations may be required, which can pose a health risk for some women. This is one of the reasons that many women opt for custom-made breast forms over breast implants.
The exact procedure and number of surgeries needed depends on the individual, but there are three main treatments that a woman may need to undergo when having breast reconstructive surgery with silicone implant, including:
- During the first reconstruction surgery procedure, the surgeon takes muscle from the chest and moves it directly under the skin. Tissue expanders are placed underneath the muscle, and a series of expansions are performed to stretch the skin and muscle in preparation for the implant.
- In the second surgery, the surgeon removes the expanders and places the breast implants.
- The third surgery is nipple reconstruction, where a new nipple is created using tissue from another part of the body or a tissue donor. Not all women want or need nipple reconstruction, and around 25% of women say they have some nipple sensation after breast reconstruction.
Breast Implants Make it More Difficult to Detect Cancer
There is some evidence to suggest that breast implants can interfere with the image from a mammogram, with silicone implants creating more of a problem than saline implants. Women who have had cancer are routinely checked for the rest of their lives; however, they don’t typically need mammograms on the side where they have had a mastectomy; instead, they undergo physical examinations or ultrasounds.
If you undergo breast augmentation, particularly if you have silicone gel implants, make sure to visit a clinic experienced at performing mammograms on augmented breasts. These technicians will be trained in moving the implant to get the clearest images. Always inform your technician of your implant before your mammogram.
Breast Implants Cause Cancer
BIA-ALCL is a type of lymphoma that develops around breast implants, but it is a cancer of the immune system rather than a form of breast cancer. It has been connected to implants with textured surfaces; currently, there are no confirmed cases linked to smooth-surfaced implants. BIA-ALCL can occur in women who have implant surgery for cosmetic reasons or reconstruction after a mastectomy.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include pain, a lump on the breast or armpit, swelling, hardening of the breast, asymmetry, a skin rash, and fluid collection. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your physician.
If you are considering getting breast implants, discuss the risks of BIA-ALCL with your cosmetic surgeon beforehand. There are many decisions to be made about what the right implants are for you, from the shape and size to the texture of the implant and surgical techniques. Your choices can impact your health as well as your appearance.
Breast Implants Can Go Hard
After a breast implant is fitted, scar tissue forms around it to create a protective capsule because it is a foreign object. Usually, the capsule is soft and not noticeable; however, sometimes, it becomes hard and dense. If this happens, the capsule can tighten and squeeze the implant, distorting its shape, pushing it higher on the chest, and causing significant pain. This is known as a capsular contracture.
There is no clear answer as to why some people develop capsular contractures, but it is thought that women who have had radiation therapy may be at a greater risk. Other factors that may increase your chances of experiencing capsular contracture include a genetic predisposition to scarring, experiencing an implant rupture, having a hematoma, or developing a microbial biofilm on the implant.
The main symptoms of capsular contracture are an increase in the firmness and tightness of the breast. This can occur months or even years after your implants are fitted. If the condition causes you significant pain, changes the position or shape of the breast, or restricts your movement, you need corrective surgery. Three different surgeries can be performed to treat a capsular contracture: a capsulectomy, an open capsulectomy, and an autologous reconstruction.
You Can’t Lose Weight After Getting Breast Implants
In most cases, moderate weight loss does not significantly affect the appearance of your implants. However, this can vary depending on several factors. For instance, women with a lot of fatty breast tissue may notice their breasts reduce in size as they lose weight.
The position of your implants can also be a factor. After weight loss, implants behind the mammary glands instead of partially behind the pectoral chest muscles may show through the skin. If this occurs, you may wish to visit a board certified plastic surgeon for revision surgery.
Breast Implants Are Not the Only Option After a Mastectomy
Although many women have great success with breast reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, this procedure is not the only way to regain confidence in your body and appearance. For many cancer survivors, the thought of having more surgery and having to take more pain medication is too much. Fortunately, plastic surgery is only one option.
Custom-made and fitted breast forms are a pain-free way for women who have had a mastectomy to regain their shape and feel comfortable in clothes and swimwear. At A Fitting Experience Mastectomy Shoppe, we offer fittings led by experienced, sensitive fitters who use the latest technologies to ensure you get the perfect form. For more information, contact us today at (954) 978-8287.