What are the risks associated with breast reconstruction?
Fortunately, significant complications from breast reconstruction are infrequent. However, minor complications occur occasionally. You should discuss the risks and potential complications with your aesthetic plastic surgeon during your consultation and after your procedure to ensure you are on the right track to recovery.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
Other risks specific to a breast reconstruction are:
- Fat necrosis and/or fatty cysts
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
- Partial or complete loss of the flap
- Loss of sensation at both the donor and reconstruction site
- Donor site complications (hernia, delayed wound healing with poor scar formation, breast hardening, implant malposition, implant rupture)
Breast implants do not last a lifetime, and you will likely need to replace them. After your breast implant surgery, it’s important you have periodic exams with your board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon so he or she can monitor your implants. Saline and silicone implants have warranties from their manufacturers; however, the longer you have implants, the more likely you are to experience complications.
Silicone gel−filled breast implants have been under scrutiny for years, but after gathering detailed and meticulous research and data, the FDA approved their use in cosmetic breast enhancement surgery, finding no link between silicone gel implants and connective tissue disease, breast cancer or reproductive problems. In addition, the FDA approved three companies to develop and market breast implants and continue to collect data on their long-term safety and efficacy. For more information on silicone breast implants, please see the FDA breast implant information provided on their site.
You can help minimize breast reconstruction risks by following your board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon’s advice and instructions before and after your surgery.
Are breast implants safe?
Experts are continually refining breast augmentation surgical techniques and breast implants themselves, increasing the safety and reliability of the procedure. Ask your aesthetic plastic surgeon to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
In January 2016, the United States FDA provided an update to the 2011 safety communication that identified a possible association between breast implants and the development of ALCL, a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
According to the World Health Organization, BI-ALCL is not breast cancer or cancer of the breast tissue; it is a lymphoma, a cancer of immune cells. Women with breast implants may have a very low, but increased risk of developing ALCL adjacent to a breast implant.
- We encourage women with breast implants to contact their aesthetic plastic surgeon if they notice swelling, fluid collections, or unexpected changes in breast shape
- If you are a symptomatic patient suspicious for BI-ALCL, your surgeon should remove your implants immediately.
Breast implant associated-ALCL is very rare, and if it occurs, is highly treatable in the majority of patients. The FDA, ASPS, and ASAPS recommend that all women, including those with breast implants, follow their normal routine in medical care and follow-up, including mammography when appropriate.
The FDA as well as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) maintain that breast implants do not impair breast health and scientific evidence continues to support that FDA-approved breast implants have a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.