Safety is of the utmost importance when considering any type of surgery. If you’re considering breast implant surgery, you may begin your research by trying to gain an understanding of the risks and benefits of the procedure. During this stage, questions about the procedure and the potential safety of breast implants may arise.
It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and confused by the varied results you may discover from your research. When researching any topic online, in addition to scholarly resources and scientific journals, you may also find biased and unscientific information that may not always be reliable.
To help make this process easier, we’re addressing some important breast implant safety concerns with Dr. Bajaj. She’ll walk us through common safety topics and how she approaches them with her patients.
How to Talk to Your Surgeon About Breast Implant Safety
Before we dive into our topics, it’s important to know how to speak with your surgeon about safety. Ideally, you should talk to your surgeon as you would with your family doctor or trusted friend.
“The best advice I have for women is to have an open and honest discussion with their surgeon about their concerns.” Dr. Bajaj says.
Be sure to write your questions down beforehand – sometimes, we may forget our questions during the consultation. Dr. Bajaj will want to answer anything and everything you’re concerned about. This way you can feel confident you made the best-informed decision for yourself and your body.
Important Breast Implant Safety Topics
There are several risks and benefits that Dr. Bajaj will discuss with you during a consultation. She also will go into more detail about these important breast implant safety concerns, such as replacing your breast implants, mammogram scans, and breast implant complications.
Replacing Breast Implants Over Time
Breast implants should be looked at as an investment that may need maintenance over time. They aren’t meant to be lifetime devices. In fact, the older your implants get, the more wear and tear are placed on the implants.
“Older implants may have an increased risk of a rupture,” Dr. Bajaj explains. “For most women, you will need to have another surgery to either remove or replace your implants during your lifetime.”
Just as every surgery is unique to the patient, the lifespan of your implants depends on the type of implant and how your body ages. Prior to 2019, the FDA had recommended that women should obtain an MRI three years after their surgery, and then every two years after that, to monitor silicone gel implants for silent rupture. Recently, the FDA has considered changing this recommendation to high-resolution ultrasound.
Typically, breast implants should last more than a decade, with an increase in rupture of about 1% each year after that. Dr. Bajaj encourages her patients to perform self-checks regularly and keep in touch with her to voice any concerns or questions about aging implants.
“I prefer to see all of my patients with breast implants annually to ensure that any concerns can be addressed in a timely fashion,” Dr. Bajaj says.
Breast Implant Removal
We cover all of your bases upfront and let you know your options if you decide later for implant removal or reduction. We understand that life happens. You may decide to change your look as time goes on, and we have several options for you to explore.
Mammograms and Breast Implants
You should continue to get yearly mammograms with your breast implants. However, it’s important to tell your technologist you have implants before the mammogram starts. You may need additional care and imaging during the mammogram.
“If you have implants, you may get at two to four additional images of your breast that compress the implant out of the way,” Dr. Bajaj says. “This allows for better imaging of each breast.”
Breast Implant Illness and BIA-ALCL
Breast implant illness and Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) are often associated with each other but aren’t the same thing.
Breast implant illness is a term women who have breast implants use to self-identify symptoms they’re experiencing. Women who experience symptoms of fatigue, chest pain, joint pain, and hair loss may attribute these symptoms to their breast implants. However, while breast implant illness isn’t an official medical diagnosis at this time, it is an area of ongoing research by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
BIA-ALCL is a unique type of lymphoma specifically associated with breast implants (typically textured) and usually presents 6-10 years after a woman has received those implants. It’s believed to be a type of inflammatory reaction in response to the implants in certain individuals. Signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling, pain, asymmetry, or lumps and masses.
“I like to make sure my patients understand the difference between these two situations,” Dr. Bajaj says. “If a patient is concerned about her implants, we will discuss her concerns immediately. But some come to me having already made the decision to remove them, and that’s OK too.”
In any situation, abnormal, sudden, or strange changes with your breast implants should prompt a call to our office during business hours so we can schedule you to come in for a check-up.
Your safety concerns are extremely important to us, and we’re always honest and real with you. During your consultation, we strive to set realistic expectations and give you all of the information you need to help you make the best decision for yourself and your personal health.