Breast Implant Revision: Do You Need a Do-Over

By Elana Pruitt © 2007-2009
PlasticSurgery.com Editor

What do you envision when considering breast enhancement? Maybe that sexy bathing suit top you will finally be able to fill out or the fact that a full bosom will make you feel more proportionate all over? Most of us like to think of the good stuff first. And although the complications associated with plastic surgery are rare, it should be told — there are bad stuff too. Fortunately, you have the option of turning to a skilled surgeon who specializes in breast implant revision surgery just in case the ugly side of plastic surgery hits hard.

According to Newport Beach board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow, women should know that breast augmentation is not a guaranteed one-time operation: “It may need to be done again down the road.” However, having performed over 5,000 breast implant revision surgeries during his career, Dr. Dubrow says that the popular idea that implants should be replaced every 10 years is a total myth: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Breast Enhancement Procedures

Women considering breast augmentation should also know that even if they have recovered well and appear free of any post-surgical complications; at some point, they may wind up in the operating room for more work. As the years pass, the desire for a breast lift, new type of implants, and/or size adjustment could lead you back to your original doctor. Yet for patients who are left badly scarred, asymmetric or rock-hard after augmentation, the question may stressfully linger within: Should I go back to the same doctor for a revision?

According to Dr. Dubrow, it’s easy for patients to “lose faith” in their original doctor when breast augmentation goes awry; prompting the search for a fresh pair of hands and eyes. “Always go to a board certified plastic surgeon who has experience with breast augmentation, as well as with breast revision,” he says, stating the vitals.

As for Dr. Stuart Linder, a board certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, his Monday-through-Friday week of work is filled with a “tremendous” amount of breast revisions on patients who decided to seek his expertise instead of returning to their original doctor. With a profile listing on PlasticSurgery.com, Dr. Linder says that many of his breast patients find him through the Internet, as well as through patient and doctor referrals.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASPS), more than a quarter-million breast augmentation surgeries — exactly 364,610 procedures — were performed in the United States during 2005; nine percent higher than 2004. With numbers steadily increasing, more and more women may be faced with the possibility of complications following enhancement.

Fortunately, there are fix-it procedures available and credible plastic surgeons to meet with you and help revise a problem you never bargained for! So whether you have already undergone breast augmentation or have been seriously considering it, learning early about possible results-gone-bad will help you remain overall body conscious.

Breast Implant Risks and Side Effects

Here are some of the most common problems that may arise following breast augmentation:
(*The risks and side effects associated with these may vary based on the type of implant used.)

Capsular Contracture:

This is the most common complication associated with breast augmentation, and it occurs when excessive scar tissue has formed around the implant. The results is hardening of the breast(s), a feeling of “tightness and pulling,” potential pain, and an unnatural round (and sometimes distorted) look — think “coconut breasts.” This is how the body reacts to the foreign substance. Even when surgery is performed to correct this condition, capsular contracture has the possibility of returning.

Implant Deflation or Rupture:

This occurs when solution leaks through an unsealed or damaged valve, or through a break in the implant shell. Deflation or rupture is usually diagnosed by the patient herself, and it can occur immediately following breast augmentation or anytime thereafter (including many years). There are a variety of factors that can cause the implant to rupture or deflate. Some of these include underfilling or overfilling of saline solution (which can result in a crease fold that eventually breaks the implant shell), damage by surgical instruments during surgery, capsular contracture, or even excessive compression during mammographic imaging. Should your implant develop a leak and deflate, the size of your breast will go back to its preoperative size almost immediately; prompting the need for another operation to replace the old implant.

Visible Implant Wrinkling and Rippling:

With this condition, the implants become palpable underneath the skin; causing visible rippling. Contributing factors include very slender women with thin, soft tissue implants coverage, textured implants and placement above the breast muscle. Saline implants are generally at a greater risk in developing visible wrinkling and rippling than are silicone implants.

Implant Displacement/ Bottoming Out:

Although it is a rare complication, “bottoming out” occurs when breast implants end up sitting too low on the chest wall and the nipples wind up positioned too high on the breast mound. At any time after surgery, a patient’s implants can move upward, downward, left or right; causing the need for a revision to move them back into the right position. In general, the larger the implant, the greater the chance it will displace downward.

Synmastia:

Casually known as “breadloafing,” “kissing implants, or “uniboob,” the unnatural touching of implants across the breastbone is caused by over-dissection of the tissues in the cleavage area. Synmastia is a condition in which the pectoral muscle has lifted off the sternum thus allowing the implants to touch each other under the skin of the breastbone. This results in the appearance of one large, horizontal breast instead of two. This is the least common of breast augmentation complications and the most difficult complication to correct.

Find A Breast Augmentation Surgeon

Please continue browsing PlasticSurgery.com to find a doctor in your area who specializes in breast implant revision, as well as breast augmentation.