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Breast Augmentation Risks and Complications

The most important concept to understand is that breast implant surgery is not a “one time procedure.” Over a lifetime, corrective surgery will be required for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons are capsular contracture, deflation or rupture of the breast implants, or post-pregnancy changes. In spite of this, it is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures and patient satisfaction is extremely high.

Marin Cosmetic Surgery Center offers a highly-trained plastic surgery team, which includes a board-certified anesthesiologist and experienced plastic surgery nurses and operating room technicians. This minimizes, but does not eliminate, the risks of this procedure. It is important to understand the risks, as well as benefits, of breast augmentation surgery. Dr Delgado and his staff, including the anesthesiologist, take time to carefully explain the risks associated with this surgery.

Capsular Contracture: Capsular contracture is the most common complication or adverse side effect of breast implant surgery. During surgery, a pocket is created for the implant that is somewhat larger than the implant itself. During healing, a fibrous membrane called a capsule forms around the device. Under ideal circumstances, the pocket maintains its original dimensions and the breast implant rests inside, remaining soft and natural. However, for reasons still largely unknown, the scar capsule shrinks or contracts in some women and squeezes the breast implant, resulting in various degrees of firmness. This contraction can occur soon after surgery or many years later and can appear in one or both breasts. Current theories suggest that a low grade infection may trigger some incidents of contracture.

Capsular contraction is not a health risk, but it can detract from the quality of the result and cause discomfort, pain, or distortion of the breast contour. In cases of minor contraction, surgery may not be required. However, cases of very firm contraction can be relieved only by surgical intervention.

Leakage or Rupture: Saline breast implants deflate either through a leakage of the fluid import valve or through a break in the outer shell. Breast implant deflation or rupture can occur immediately or progressively over a period of days. Since saltwater is naturally present in the body, the saline will be absorbed by the body safely and ultimately voided. Deflated saline breast implants require additional surgery to remove and replace the breast implants.

If silicone breast implants have a leak or rupture, this is more difficult to identify. The leakage of silicone gel stays within the breast implant pocket, whereas the saltwater from saline breast implants is totally absorbed, leaving an obviously deflated pocket. Occasionally, the gel of the breast implant can escape the capsule (implant scar tissue) and irregularities can be felt around the outer shell of the implant. If this change is felt, it constitutes a problem that needs investigation. The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) suggests that an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) be done at three years and then every two years thereafter, in hopes of detecting these silent leaks. Silent leaks can occur spontaneously and are often undetectable to the patient. If a leak is determined by an MRI or other test, the breast implant needs to be removed and replaced with a new breast implant.

Infection: Most infections resulting from surgery appear within a few days to two weeks after the operation. Generally, infections can be treated with antibiotics, but on rare occasions, the breast implants may need to be removed until the infection clears. All breast augmentation patients start oral antibiotics the night before surgery and continue to take these antibiotics for the week following the surgery as a prophylactic measure to avoid this complication. In addition, the patient receives an intravenous version of this antibiotic administered by the anesthesiologist during surgery and a special triple antibiotic irrigation is used during the placement of the implants into the breast pockets. Whenever implants are involved, extra sterile technique precautions are practiced by the surgeon and his staff to ensure that no pathogens are introduced. These extra precautions include, but are not limited to, double sterile gloves worn by the surgeon and the scrub technician and six applications of two different skin prep solutions applied by the RN, instead of the standard three applications of one solution. As a result of conscientious and skilled application of these special sterile techniques for implant surgeries, Marin Cosmetic Surgery Center boasts an exceptionally low incidence of infection over its 10 years of operation.

Hematoma: A hematoma is a collection of blood around the breast implant pocket. If a hematoma occurs, it usually occurs soon after the surgical procedure, within the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Small hematomas are absorbed by the body and can be unnoticed, but large ones need to be drained surgically in the operating room.

Changes in Nipple and Breast Sensation: Feeling in the nipples and breasts can increase or decrease after breast implant surgery. The range of changes varies from increased sensitivity to reduced sensation of the nipples or breasts following surgery. Changes in feeling are usually temporary and return after swelling dissipates. On rare occasions, sensation can be lost.


After your surgery, your surgeon will be giving you a card with the; type of implants, serial numbers and date of surgery. This information will be provided to Mentor on your behalf and it is very important that you keep this card in a safe place. If you ever have an issue with your implants, you will need this information to activate your warranty.

Mentor offers a very generous lifetime warranty on their implants. You can get detailed information on the warranty for your type of implants on their website, click here.

Basically what they offer for saline implants is:

  • Lifetime product replacement
  • For charges not covered by your insurance, financial assistance in the amount of $1200 toward cost of operating room, anesthesia and surgical charges, for 10 years from the date of implantation.
  • For a reasonable fee of $100, within 45 days of implantation, the amount of assistance would be increased from $1200 to $2400.

For Memory Gel Round Implants on or after May 1, 2009, they offer a Premier Advantage Warranty which includes:

  • Financial assistance of up to $3500 for charges not covered by your insurance, toward costs of operating room, anesthesia and surgical charges.
  • Replacement implants.

For Memory Gel Implants prior to May 1, 2009, has the same extended warranty available as for the saline implants.

For more specific details please go to Mentor’s website or ask Dr. Delgado’s patient coordinator.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Augmentation

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