Problems with Breast Implants: Deflation, Mammograms, Breast-Feeding

A Breast Implant's Life Expectancy
Implants do not last a lifetime. The average implant will burst after about 10-12 years. Since this will occur on one side at a time, it means another surgery. Either you must get the deflated implant replaced, or remove the remaining one. In addition, the saline in implants has been known to get infected and leak. This can cause an infection in the woman who has the implants.

The most common complications, which often require additional surgery, are:

  • Shrinkage of the capsule surrounding the implant, which can lead to scarring around the implant, changes in breast size and shape, hardness and pain.
  • Implant rupture or leakage, due to an injury or just normal wear. Most saline implants will last about ten years and then may require further surgery for replacement.
  • Implants interfere with mammograms making breast cancer detection more difficult.
  • Altered breast sensation.
  • Possible infection.

Breast-Feeding and Cancer Screening
In addition to the general health problems associated with breast implants, there are issues relating to breast-feeding and cancer screening that must be considered before a woman decides to get implants.

One concern with breast-feeding is that when the implants are inserted into the breast, the milk-ducts will be cut. The current way that implants are inserted is usually through the armpit. This procedure should not interfere with breast-feeding. However, it is always best to make sure the surgeon is aware that you wish to still be capable of breast-feeding.

Some women have experienced some problems with breast-feeding. Again, a frank discussion with the surgeon is in order to make sure breast-feeding will still be an option. Many women have found that after the procedure they experience some loss of sensitivity in their nipples. Some women who choose to have their implants explanted report a return of the lost sensation. In terms of risks to the baby, neither silicone nor saline are in the milk, so the baby should not experience any problems due to the implants.

Cancer Screening
Silicone breast implants are known to be associated with calcium deposits in the breast. These calcium deposits can make it even more difficult to obtain a clear mammogram than it already is. The implant itself already causes some obscuring of the tissue, which makes mammograms difficult. The calcium deposits make it even worse. It is not known why calcium deposits form around silicone implants, but they do not appear to be harmful. However, in general, calcium deposits can be indicative of a nearby cancer. Therefore, the presence of silicone implants may make it difficult to determine if there is cancer present or if all the mammogram is showing are the effects of the implant.

Self-breast exams are also confounded by the implant. Implants can make it difficult to feel the breast tissue properly. In addition, calcium deposits or hardening of saline implants can cause lumps to appear in the breast that are not associated with cancer. This can confuse matters and cause undue worry.

A desire to improve one's appearance may potentially lead to many health problems. It is best to be careful when making this decision. Speak openly to your surgeon to determine what is best for you.

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