How likely is it that I will have complications with my breast augmentation?

I am having my breast augmentation in a month (330cc silicone), and although I have researched everything extensively, I am a little worried about the possibility of a major risk during/after surgery. What worries me the most are necrosis, an infection, chronic breast pain or perhaps an autoimmune disease cropping up... I feel silly for worrying as the likelihood of these happening to me are rare, but it has to happen to someone I guess. Any help, tips or advice? It would be greatly appreciated.

Doctor Answers 1

Concerns over risks and complications after BBA

Thank you for your important question Heather!

It is completely normal to feel scared and anxious.

You see, we are naturally scared of things we do not know or things we do not understand. In order to overcome fear, you must educate yourself as much as possible about the surgical process while also not taking things out of context.

The source of all this anxiety could be reading through tonnes of reviews of breast augmentation. Of course, if you read negative reviews, you are more likely to become anxious, but if you read more positive reviews, you are more likely to become excited about the surgery.

You have to realize that one patient is not like another, so taking those negative reviews and applying it your own case is pointless. In fact, even the breasts in the same individual are never entirely the same which is why we may see that certain complications occur only in one breast and not the other.

Please know that compared to the number of people who get BBAs each year (over 300,000) and the number of negative reviews you read, you will realize 2 things: 1) those with negative results are more likely to share their story, 2) compared to positive results, the likelihood of negative results and complications is highly uncommon.

You already recognize this, but it is always important to look into the likelihood of the complications that are scaring you.

In fact, if you were to look at the list of complications to any surgery, or number of side effects to any drug, you would be more likely to reject the surgery or drug. The point to understand is not that there are many risks, but rather the rate of occurrence (i.e., incidence rate of the complications) is very low.

Infection is a very dangerous complication that could destroy BBA results, but the chance of infection following breast augmentation is 1% which means that there is 99% chance you will not get an infection. See how if you change the point of reference, things look much better. This is because of the psychological effect our body has to negative information.

In breast augmentation, the chances of necrosis are lower than rates of infection. It involves death of cells due to lack of blood supply (i.e., oxygen and nutrients). If you smoke, then you should stop smoking 1 month prior to surgery (i.e., this means you should stop right now if your surgery is one month from now). Smoking a cigarette within the month of the surgery can double your risk of infection. Smoking will also cause delayed wound healing, so it is important to cease smoking for 1 month after surgery as well. If there is considerable risk of nipple necrosis and delayed wound healing, then your surgeon may place a smaller implant compared to a larger one, and additionally place the implant behind the chest muscle as it does not interfere with the blood supply.

With regards to autoimmune disease, there still isn’t much information on the prevalence of autoimmune disease after breast augmentation surgery. You see, associations have been found in a very small subgroup of patients in old studies, but there is still no conclusive evidence that proves that silicone breast implants CAUSE autoimmune diseases. As such, calculating prevalence of such a thing is difficult. Several studies implicate that there is no increased risk to develop autoimmune diseases after silicone breast implant insertion which is why the FDA lifted the ban on these implants in 2006.

If you have a board-certified plastic surgeon to perform your breast augmentation, then they will carefully consider blood supply to your breasts and nipple,  and take multiple steps to reduce risk of infection (i.e., minimize air exposure of the implant, administer antibiotics before and after surgery, avoid excessively large implants, wash the implant and implant pocket with antibacterial solution, use an implant insertion sleeve – Keller Funnel, etc.).

If you trust your surgeon, their skills and experience, then be confident that nothing will go wrong.

Hope this helps!


Toronto Plastic Surgeon
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