If you’re a woman considering breast implants, you may be asking yourself, “are they safe?” While breast augmentation with implants has become more common, it’s important to be informed about this—and any—medical procedure before you move forward. Nathan Narasimhan, MD, a Banner Health plastic surgeon, shares his expertise on the safety of breast implants:
Q: What’s the difference between silicone implants and saline implants?
A: Both types of implants contain silicone. Saline implants have an outer shell made of silicone but are filled with a sterile saline solution. Silicone implants also have an outer silicone shell but are filled with a silicone gel. The outer shell of either type of implant can be smooth or textured. Both silicone and saline implants can be used for breast augmentation and reconstruction.
Q: Are both types of implants safe?
A: I don’t have any safety concerns about either type of implant. They have both been studied extensively and have not been found to be associated with any negative health effects. They are both safe for augmentation and reconstruction.
Q: Are breast implants safer now than 10 or 15 years ago?
A: Yes. The technology associated with implants is constantly changing and improving. Each year there are new improvements in the durability of the implant shell and the cohesiveness of the gel fill. The change to the cohesive gel filling is a big improvement because should there be a cut or tear in the implant, the silicone gel fill will stay together, like a gummy bear, instead of leaking.
Q: What are the risks of breast implants to the breast or other areas of the body?
A: Having breast implants alone poses no health risk to the breast or other parts of the body. There has not been any research showing that implants cause autoimmune or other illnesses in the body.
Q: Is there a link between breast implants and developing breast cancer?
A: No causative link has been found between having breast implants and getting breast cancer.
A very rare type of immune system cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma has received attention recently for a possible link to implants. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, this is a very uncommon cancer and currently has only been associated with textured implants.
Q: What possible complications of breast implant surgery should a patient be aware of?
A: As with any surgery, it’s possible complications could arise, such as bleeding, infection or a collection of fluid. A possible complication specific to breast implant surgery is capsular contracture, which is when hard scar tissue forms around the implant. The scar tissue can cause the implant to feel hard and can change the position or shape of the implant. After the surgery, patients should expect to feel some soreness or pain which can be controlled with pain medication. Restrictions following surgery include minimizing strenuous activity and heavy lifting for several weeks.
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