Breast augmentation is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed today. Breast implants are devices inserted into the body designed to enhance the size or shape of a woman’s bust. They are used to help correct deformities, breast reconstruction following a mastectomy or simply for aesthetic purposes.
In the late 1800’s the first breast enhancement procedures began to take place. In the early days of breast augmentation surgeries, the breast tissue was injected with anything from wax, silicone, and even fat cells. These procedures often led to complications including deformity, infection and difficulty in screening women for breast cancer. In some cases complications were so dire that they resulted in mastectomy. Direct injections were abandoned in the early part of the 20th century in favor of implants filled with various substances. Glass balls, rubber, sponges and other various materials were tried until the 1960’s when implants filled with silicone or saline.
Today implants consist of a silicone shell with either saline or silicone gel filling. The shell gives the implant its shape, either round or contoured. A contoured implant gives a more natural breast shape, but also carries the risk of flipping causing the breast to become misshapen.
There are many reasons a woman would undergo breast augmentation surgery:
- Size. Aesthetic reasons are the number one reason women undergo enhancement surgery.
- Reconstruction following mastectomy. Many women battling breast cancer undergo mastectomies. This could mean the removal of one or both breasts.
- Asymmetry. Women who have deformities or asymmetrical breasts get implants to give them a more balanced bustline.
- Lift. After pregnancy and breastfeeding or after a significant weight loss, a woman’s breasts may change in size and shape. Implants can give them lift and make them appear rounder, fuller and more firm.
The risk of rupture is one of the biggest health risks concerning implants. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. If the implant ruptures the liquid is absorbed by the body without ill effect. Silicone implants do carry a higher risk. If a silicone implant ruptures or leaks, the gel can migrate into the area around the implant or even into other parts of the body. This has been known to cause diseases such as arthritis, lupus and some autoimmune disorders.
Women who opt for silicone implants should get regular exams post-surgery to check for ruptures. Often an MRI is required to determine if there is a gradual leak. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that breast implants should be removed or replaced every ten years. As the implant gets older it is more prone to rupture. Mammograms have also been known to cause an implant to rupture.
Implants may hinder milk production for lactating mothers. The milk ducts begin producing milk as early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy. This may cause pain and pressure in the breast and often the nipples may begin to leak. Implants may cause a diminished milk supply due to scarring, damaged ducts, or nerve damage. Other than possible milk supply issues, babies are not affected by implants and there shouldn’t be cause for concern regarding latching on or in milk quality. Unless the implant is old or ruptured, there is no reason to have implants removed prior to pregnancy.
Guest blogger Drew Perkins is a 28 year old health and wellness freelance writer. He mostly spends his time writing blog posts and write content for his wife's website that talks about diet, weight loss surgeries and tummy tuck.