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What are Common Complications of Breast Implants?

Like any surgery, there are a number of things that can go wrong with breast implant surgery. Some of these factors are out of the control of the individual, such as the surgeon's actions, and some are within, such as how well you stick to the healing process.

Due to the invasive nature of breast augmentation, the range of possible complications is diverse and sometimes difficult to understand. In the following guide, the experts at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors have outlined the common and obscure complications that can occur during and after breast implant surgery, what the causes of these are and how you may be able to avoid them, improving your chances of successful breast augmentation surgery.

What are the risks of breast implant surgery?

When you undergo cosmetic surgery, you accept that you are taking a risk, no matter how small. No surgery is guaranteed to succeed, so you should be aware of the possible unwanted results that you may experience. These include:

  • Visible scarring
  • Pain, tenderness and loss of sensation
  • Infection and prolonged swelling
  • Changes to the breasts' positions
  • Implant rupture or leakage
  • Nerve damage
  • Asymmetry 
  • Double bubble - the implant slips below where the chest muscle meets the lower breast, causing an unnatural line or identation across the bottom of the breast 
  • Symmastia - confluence of the breasts giving rise to a single mound appearance as opposed to a double mound appearance 

What are the complications of breast implants after surgery?

At any time following your surgery, you may have issues with your breast implants. This is often due to the body's natural ageing over many years, which causes different parts of the body to change. As you grow older, you may find that your breasts begin to sag - a completely natural part of the ageing process, but something you may find undesirable if you have a specific look in mind. Getting breast implants is not a permanent "fix" for your breasts - even if you have had implant surgery, you will find that they change over time. You may wish to seek further surgery, or a breast implant removal.

A more serious complication that may arise is breast implant rupture - this typically occurs due to physical impacts on the breast that may damage the silicone implant within, or it could be due to a surgical error that causes cracks to develop over time. This can lead to leakage, which may be hazardous to your health and will have visible aesthetic changes.

In rare cases, during a mammogram (an X-ray of the breasts), pressure could be applied to the implant, causing damage or a subsequent rupture.

Which complications of breast surgery are within your control?

The risks of breast augmentation that are within your control are typically those that fall under the healing process. If you do not follow the correct healing process, you can expect the healing of your breast tissue to be disrupted. This has the potential to cause infection, slower healing or undesirable outcomes, such as the breasts not ending up in the positions that you had the surgery for.

To facilitate healing, you should make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Keep any dressings and bandages in place and clean. Do not remove them until your surgeon says it is safe to do so
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity that may cause damage to the affected area. This includes stretching, heavy lifting and most forms of exercise. You should be safe to go for short walks when your surgeon says it is safe.Also, avoid exposing the affected breast tissue and the surrounding skin to the sun. This can cause the skin to dry up and tighten, affecting how well the scar tissue can heal
  • Sleep on your back and prop yourself up. If you move around in your sleep, the stitching may become strained and the wounds may rub, causing the healing to fail.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Wear a supportive surgical bra - your surgeon should either provide this bra or recommend where to get one
  • When washing, do not let any water enter the affected area until your surgeon says it is safe to. Do not take baths as this can cause bacteria to enter the wounds, and do not point the shower head directly at the affected area - instead, allow the water to gently drain over the breast tissue and make sure to clean any soap out of the wounds. Consider buying a wound cover or shower shirt to protect your breasts

Additionally, choosing the right surgeon is essential to the success of your procedure. In the UK, cosmetic surgeons are held to high standards - if they fail to meet these, they can incur severe legal repercussions. While going abroad for your surgery may be tempting because of its low costs, consider that you may be paying less for a lower standard of treatment. Make sure to do your research, compare different surgeons and speak to people you know who have already undergone the surgery about their experience.

Which complications of breast surgery are out of your control?

While you can take steps to increase your chances of a successful breast augmentation surgery, there are still factors which remain out of your control that play a significant role. Choosing a reliable surgeon is up to you, but you must still trust them to carry out your procedure correctly. If your surgeon fails to follow the UK's standards for breast augmentation, they will have acted negligently.

As well as the way your surgeon performs the surgery, the way they support you in the healing stages is just as important. Your surgeon should inform you on how to follow the correct healing procedure. They should keep in contact with you and assess your progress as you reach the important milestones - such as the removal of the bandages and dressings. Failing to provide you with the correct information and support also constitutes medical negligence, and can cause your procedure to go wrong.

What should you do if you think something has gone wrong with your breast implant procedure?

The signs of infection include hard, painful swelling that does not go down and bloody drainage from the wounds long after it should have stopped. If you think something has gone wrong with your surgery, you should speak to your surgeon as soon as possible for advice.

However, if you believe your surgeon is responsible for your complications, you should instead seek help from an independent medical professional - such as your GP.

In many cases, you may be able to seek corrective surgery, which is usually recommended if your breasts end up in the wrong place. For situations where your surgery has gone significantly wrong, you may be able to seek implant removal. However, these procedures can be expensive. If your surgeon is to blame for the failure of your breast implants, you should speak to a professional solicitor, such as those at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors.

Our team can help you to understand your situation and guide you through the process of placing legal responsibility on your surgeon for their poor treatment of you. Claiming compensation can help you to cover any expensive support you require as a result of your failed breast implant surgery - including medical help, financial losses and therapy.

For more information on how we may be able to help you, call us today on 0808 159 3999, or fill out an online contact form and we will return your call at a time convenient for you.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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