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Breast Augmentation Risks Every Patient Should Know

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure involving implant placement to enhance the size and shape of the breasts. When performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, this procedure is considered very safe with minimal risk of complications. However, like any surgery, there are potential risks involved.

Your surgeon will review these risks and potential complications during your consultation. This will allow you to make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways of Breast Augmentation Risks

  • Breast augmentation increases the size and shape of the breasts using either implants or fat transfer.
  • Common risks associated with breast augmentation include breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, breast implant illness, and various complications such as infection, scar tissue formation, bleeding, and bruising.
  • Follow FDA safety regulations, do proper research on qualified surgeons experienced in breast augmentations, and understand individual risk likelihood before electing a breast augmentation procedure.
  • Patients should undertake comprehensive preoperative assessments, including lifestyle needs specific to their anatomy, before making any decisions about health care treatments involving surgery, which can help reduce long term consequence issues related to an unqualified surgeon’s operation.

Overview of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammoplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves inserting breast implants under the chest muscles or breast tissue to increase the size of the breasts.

Many women undergo this procedure to improve their self-esteem and body image, while others may require it to reconstruct their breasts due to various medical conditions.

Assessing Personal Health Factors and Lifestyle

When considering breast implant surgery, your health is an important factor to evaluate. From physical health to genetic risk of breast cancer and lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption or physical activity, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with this procedure.

Physical health should not be overlooked when considering breast augmentation since certain medical conditions, such as untreated cancer or active infections, may significantly increase the risk of complications following the surgery.

Family history is integral in assessing individual risk for developing hereditary cancers. If you have close relatives who suffer from cancer, there is a greater chance that you are at higher risk.

Image Credit: Kuprevich / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Common Risks and Complications of Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breast surgery is a very common plastic surgery procedure, but there are some risks and potential complications to be aware of. Being informed on the possible issues that can arise allows patients to make educated decisions and have realistic expectations about the surgery and recovery process.


An infection after breast augmentation is rare but possible if bacteria enters the surgical incision site. Signs of infection include pain, redness, swelling, fever, and fluid leaking from the incision. Prompt antibiotic treatment is needed if an infection occurs.

Capsular Contracture

This occurs when scar tissue forms around the implant, causing it to tighten. It can cause breast pain, misshapen appearance, and hardness. The estimated risk is 10-20%. Additional surgery may be required to treat contracture.

Rupture and Leakage

Although rare with today’s improved breast implants, the outer shell can rupture and leak silicone gel into the breast. Patients may require surgery to remove and replace the implant.

Changes in Nipple Sensation

Some temporary or permanent change in nipple sensation is possible after breast augmentation. This includes increased sensitivity or losing sensation.


Some degree of scarring is unavoidable with any surgery. The incision sites usually fade over time into thin white lines. Poor scarring is unlikely with a skilled surgeon.


It’s common to have slightly uneven results with differences in breast shape or size. Minor asymmetry can sometimes be corrected with a revision surgery.

Anesthesia Complications

Problems like bleeding, breathing issues or blood clots are always a slight risk with anesthesia but very unlikely in healthy patients.

Consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon helps minimize risks and have the best procedural outcome.

Safety Measures for Breast Implants

Protect yourself by following FDA regulations and safety requirements and choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon for your procedure.

FDA Regulations and Safety Requirements

Ensuring the safety and security of breast implants is a top priority for women considering the procedure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented many regulations, recommendations, and restrictions to protect individuals from potential risks associated with these devices.

These measures consider added agreement from clinical experts and are kept current as research advances in this field. Such actions include:

  • more detailed premarket approval requirements.
  • guidelines for regularly screening implants once they have been inserted via MRI or ultrasound.
  • And, studies on post approval evidence basis to evaluate possible benefits before officially placing them on the market.

From overseas manufacturers facing greater challenges in long-term tracking, implementation of adverse event reporting systems should continuously monitor implant performance or any device-related issues based upon accessible data as an active surveillance system. These are all to keep women safe during breast augmentation procedures.

Safety guidelines set by government agencies such as the FDA recommend that care be taken while selecting qualified surgeons experienced with performing breast augmentations equally crucial.

Importance of Finding a Qualified and Experienced Surgeon

Finding a highly experienced and qualified surgeon is essential when deciding to undergo breast augmentation surgery. Choosing an inexperienced or unqualified surgeon can lead to severe risks, such as breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, complications like scar tissue formation, infection, and breast pain, or even unsatisfactory results from the surgery.

It is vital to research the medical credentials of any surgeon before beginning with preoperative assessment, investigate their areas of expertise, and ask for evidence supporting their claims about patient outcomes.

Diagnosing and Treating Breast Implant Related Complications

Identifying signs and seeking medical attention is essential in treating potential breast implant complications.

Identifying Symptoms and Seeking Medical Attention

Early and accurate identification of potential complications associated with breast augmentation is important for addressing the issue quickly and minimizing the risk of serious health issues.

Common symptoms that may indicate a complication include swelling, pain, asymmetry, lumps in the breast or armpit area, skin rash, hardening of the breasts, joint pain, or muscle aches.

Unexplained enlargement can also be a sign of trouble. If any suspicious and persistent signs are experienced, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away for further medical evaluation as early action is essential.

Evaluating Options for Breast Implant Removal

Many women with breast implants may eventually require or elect to have their implants removed. This could be due to medical necessity, dissatisfaction with aesthetic results, systemic symptoms potentially related to breast implants, or simply a desire to remove the medical devices. When considering implant removal, it is crucial to understand all options.

There are two main types of breast implants women may have; saline implants and silicone gel implants. With saline implants, rupture leads to absorption of the sterile saline into the body. However, ruptured silicone implants can lead to leakage of silicone material which may require additional surgery to remove.

The implant removal procedure is much less complex than the initial augmentation. It is typically done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The surgeon will make an incision, remove the implant and any scar tissue capsule that formed around it. Often a breast lift, reduction or reconstruction may be done at the same time to address sagging breasts or improve contour.

Patient Safety and Education

Patients considering breast augmentation should be aware of all available safety measures and understand the risks involved to make informed decisions.

Image Credit: Mrwed54 / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Empowering Patients to make Informed Decisions

Breast augmentation risks should not be taken lightly. It’s important for patients to understand and assess the potential risks of any type of surgery, including breast augmentation.

Patients must consider their own individual needs such as age, health preferences and restrictions, lifestyle habits like smoking, and implant size versus anatomy, when making decisions regarding undergoing the procedure or not.

Importance of Comprehensive Preoperative Consultations

Comprehensive preoperative consultations are essential for ensuring patient safety during breast augmentation procedures. A skilled surgeon will use this appointment to discuss the expected outcomes of the surgery, as well as any risks and complications associated with it.

During these meetings, healthcare professionals can assess the patient for preexisting conditions and other health factors that may increase the risk of undesirable or dangerous side effects.

They also help educate patients on potential risks such as infection or scar tissue formation, so they understand what to watch out for when recovering from their surgery. If a person opts in for silicone implants instead of saline implants, then they would be alerted by their doctor and nurse about different precautions they should take while caring for this type of breast implant patients post-op.

Resources and Support for Individuals Considering Breast Augmentation

There is a wide range of resources and support available to help inform individuals considering the procedure. Comprehensive preoperative consultations with experienced, qualified healthcare professionals are essential. They can provide informative advice on risks associated with breast augmentation procedures.

It’s also important to understand why people pursue breast augmentation in the first place; be it to restore volume lost during aging, post mastectomy breast reconstruction, or simply for cosmetic purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Augmentation Risks

1. What are the Risks Associated with Breast Augmentation?

Risks associated with breast augmentation include infection, bleeding, hematoma and seroma formation, changes in nipple sensitivity, capsular contracture or hardening of scar tissue, breast implant rupture and or displacement and asymmetrical breasts.

2. How Can I Reduce My Risk for Complications?

Choosing an experienced plastic surgeon that performed many breast augmentation surgeries before, is key for a successful surgery with less risks.

Another important step is to follow your surgeon’s pre operative instructions closely, including stopping certain medications prior to surgery as well as taking antibiotics after the procedure is finished. Any signs of infection should be reported to a physician immediately so proper treatment can be administered quickly in order to minimize any further risks from arising due occurrences such as sepsis.                

3. Should I Consider Other Cosmetic Procedures If I’m Having a Breast Augmentations?

Yes, it’s strongly advised to consult your doctor what options might benefit you or if you need additional treatments like anti wrinkle injections or fat loss therapy skin resurfacing to help complete the desired look post op period as quickly as possible.

Image Credit: Kuprevich / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Conclusion and Summary of Breast Augmentation Risks Every Patient Should Know

Breast augmentation is a common plastic surgery procedure that allows women to enhance the size and shape of their breasts through implants. While breast augmentation can provide significant cosmetic benefits, it carries potential risks and complications that must be carefully considered before surgery.

As outlined above, risks include infection, bleeding, changes in nipple sensation, asymmetry, scarring, capsular contracture, implant leakage or rupture, and anesthesia complications.

To minimize risks, it is essential to select a board-certified plastic surgeon, follow all pre-and post-operative instructions carefully, report any concerning symptoms promptly, and consider regular screening. Patients should conduct comprehensive consultations to fully understand expected outcomes, recovery times, and options for their specific case.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.