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What Risks Are Associated With Breast Implants?

Surgeon with breast implants on the operating table

Just like any other surgery, breast augmentation comes with various risks. Because breast implants remain in your body, the likelihood of risks and complications is higher — especially over time. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “breast implants are not considered lifetime devices (emphasis added).” The longer you have breast implants, the greater the chances you will develop complications and require additional surgeries.

If you get breast implants, your risk profile will largely depend on the type of implants you receive. Saline implants can rupture and deflate, while silicone implants may leak over time.

That being said, the risks associated with breast implants include:

  • Asymmetry
  • Breast pain
  • Breast tissue atrophy
  • Calcium deposits
  • Capsular contracture
  • Chest wall deformity
  • Deflation
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Displacement
  • Extrusion
  • Hematoma
  • Iatrogenic Injury
  • Infection
  • Inflammation and irritation
  • Lymphedema (swollen lymph nodes)
  • Necrosis
  • Nipple sensation changes
  • Palpability
  • Ptosis (breast sagging)
  • Problems with breastfeeding
  • Redness and bruising
  • Rupture
  • Seroma
  • Skin Rash
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Unsatisfactory style or size
  • Visibility
  • Wrinkling

Some of the most notable complications are capsular contracture, rupture and deflation, and breast implant illness. Additionally, some implants have been associated with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

Capsular Contracture

As the FDA explains, “capsular contracture is the hardening of the breast around the implant.” When your natural body tissue tightens around your implant, the results can be painful. Doctors evaluate capsular contracture using the Baker Grading Scale, in which Grade I breasts are soft and look natural, Grade II breasts are a little firm but look normal, Grade III breasts are firm and abnormal-looking, and Grade IV breasts are hard, abnormal-looking, and painful.

If you experience Grade III or IV capsular contracture, you will likely need another operation. The FDA has not approved any devices that prevent capsular contracture.

Rupture and Deflation

Breast implants can rupture and tear, and the contents may leak into your body. Saline implants deflate after rupturing because your body can absorb the saline solution. The implant will then lose its original size and shape. Implants filled with silicone gel, on the other hand, can rupture without any outward signs. This phenomenon is known as “silent rupture.” The FDA recommends using an MRI to screen for silent rupture 3 years after your initial surgery and every 2 years after that.

When silicone implants leak, your body cannot reabsorb the gel, so you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as pain, tenderness, tingling, swelling, numbness, burning, or changes in sensation. Generally, the silicone remains in the pocket of scar tissue surrounding your implant, and plastic surgeons remove the gel during revision surgery. When gel moves to other areas of the body, it may be difficult to remove.

Breast Implant Illness

After receiving breast implants, some patients report symptoms like fatigue, memory loss, rash, “brain fog,” and joint pain. Researchers are still learning about breast implant illness (BII), but sometimes, removing the breast implants reverses the symptoms.

Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

Allergen’s textured breast implants have been linked to a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). BIA-ALCL is a cancer of the immune system, which starts in the scar tissue and fluid near your implant and spreads throughout the body.

The FDA has recalled the products that were explicitly associated with BIA-ALCL, but the risk exists with any breast implants.

Who Is Liable for Breast Implant Complications?

Breast implants wear down over time, so in some cases, no one is explicitly liable for breast implant complications. Conversely, manufacturers such as Allergen (see above) can be held liable for failing to warn consumers about risks associated with their products or selling defective products.

Similarly, surgeons can face liability if they do not insert breast implants correctly.

If you suffer breast implant complications, it may be worth talking to an attorney. Insurance companies don’t always cover revisions surgeries, even if you had coverage for the initial breast augmentation.

Should a surgeon or manufacturer be liable for your breast implant complications, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, missed wages, and other losses.

Talk to Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC during a free consultation and find out whether or not you have a valid case. Our firm has been fighting for our clients since 1991, and we can represent you in medical malpractice cases or cases involving defective medical devices.

You won’t owe any fees unless you win your case, so don’t hesitate to call us at (502) 242-8877 or contact us online and get started today.

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