Breast Augmentation Surgery Complications

Breast implant placement may be a complex surgery and complications can happen. More invasive surgery can mean more risk. A foreign object is implanted in the body and breast alignment and position are altered — an invasive surgical procedure. Risk can be reduced with more skilled and experienced surgeons, and the patient's careful adherence to instructions. But risk of complications remains a fact of life. This article helps you understand those risks.

Saline Versus Silicone Breast Implants

Infection

If infection occurs, it is usually within days or weeks of surgery. Though rare, infection can occur long after breast surgery when the incisions are completely healed. In rare cases, the implant is removed until the infection subsides, then replaced at a later date.

Bottoming Out

Bottoming out is a complication when the implant rides too low in the breast tissue and may cause the nipple to point upwards. Correction for bottoming out may be accomplished by re-entering the breast and re-creating the pocket.

Symmastia

Symmastia produces the appearance of breasts being too close to each other. To correct symmastia, a surgical procedure may be required. Larger implants may be exchanged for smaller implants. After corrective surgery, a special support bra and other supportive bandages may be needed to provide the necessary cleavage support while the tissues heal.

Capsular Contraction

The body's natural healing process creates a capsule around the breast implant, just as it would any other foreign object. Capsular formation is normal and also occurs with other types of implant surgery including placement of pacemakers, artificial bones, or joints. In some cases, however, the capsule closes or contracts around the implant. This closure is called capsular contraction. Capsular contraction can occur at anytime after surgery — when it does occur, it is typically within a few months. Note, however, that capsular contraction is not common.

Capsular contraction compresses the implant, causing the implant to look distorted. In the most advanced cases, the implant can feel hard and misshapen. The implant has not changed or hardened, but the capsule squeezing the implant has caused it to feel hard. Capsular contraction is measured by a grading system referred to as the Baker grading system. The Baker grading system has four grades :

  • Grade I - The breast is normally soft and looks natural
  • Grade II - The breast feels a little firm but looks normal
  • Grade III - The breast feels firm and may appear distorted
  • Grade IV - The breast feels hard, possibly painful, and may appear distorted

Treatment for capsular contraction requires surgery to remove or replace the implant.