Breast augmentation is one of the most frequently performed cosmetic surgery procedures. Women elect to undergo breast augmentation for many different reasons: to balance breast size, to compensate for reduced breast volume that frequently occurs following pregnancy or with increasing age, or simply to change the size and appearance of their breasts.
By placing either saline- or silicone-filled implants beneath the existing breast tissue or below the chest wall muscle, augmentation can give a woman larger and firmer breasts. Although most patients who have breast augmentation are pleased and satisfied with the results, every woman considering this surgery should be well aware of the following information about breast implants:
Breast implants, like other medical devices, are not expected to last indefinitely. They are not considered lifetime devices, and any woman who has implants placed should know that, at some point in her life, she will likely need surgery to replace the implants.
Studies done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest that most women with implants will most likely need to have further surgery at some point during their lives, for one or more of these reasons: implant rupture, capsular contracture (hardening of the implant), a shift in the implants position, or a change in breast shape or volume. Additional information about breast implants is available on the FDA website.
Women with breast implants need to have their mammograms performed at centers that use special displacement techniques, which require more views and possibly additional exposure to radiation. Mammography may not be as sensitive in women with implants, although women with implants are not shown to have any increased risk of breast cancer. When the FDA approved silicone implants for cosmetic breast augmentation in 2006, they determined that women with silicone gel breast implants should have a breast MRI three years after getting silicone implants and every two years after that. The purpose of these MRIs is to determine if the silicone gel breast implants are ruptured or leaking, because often leaks and ruptures have no symptoms. It is important to remove silicone implants if they are ruptured, to avoid having the silicone leak into the breast or lymph nodes. Many insurance plans do not cover the cost of these MRI tests, which can cost $2,000 or more.
Health insurance premiums may increase for women with breast implants and treatment of complications related to breast implants may not be covered.
Additional information about breast implants and health insurance coverage is available at WebMD.
Some women may wish to undergo breast enhancement without the use of a synthetic implant. In this case, perforator flaps may be an attractive option. Although much more commonly used for breast reconstruction following mastectomy, perforator flaps can be used to add volume to a woman’s breasts with her own body’s tissue. Furthermore, for women who are experiencing implant-related complications following breast augmentation, perforator flaps can potentially be used to replace synthetic breast implants with soft natural tissue. Similarly, these procedures may be an appealing option for women who no longer want to have their breast implants, but who still wish to maintain the larger breast size implants offer.
When your own tissue is used for breast augmentation (known technically as autologous augmentation), it is yours for life, and problems related to the use of implants (for example, capsular contracture, leak and rupture) are eliminated.
Contact us if you would like more information about breast augmentation or breast enhancement surgery or to schedule a consultation. Our practice has offices in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut.