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Breast augmentation is the most common form of plastic surgery, yet the safety of implants is questioned continuously. In a single Google search, you will find both sides of the issue, implant horror stories and medical studies assuring consumers that implants are safe and effective. So, what should you believe?

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What Do the Experts Say?

In 1992, the FDA banned the use of silicone implants because their safety could not be proven without a doubt. Fourteen years later, the makers of silicone implants were able to prove their safety. Since that time, millions of women have chosen to enhance their breasts with silicone implants. These implants are monitored and studied by both the FDA and the NBIR (National Breast Implant Registry). Both organizations continue to deem implants safe for long-term use.

What Are the Potential Complications?

Implant Rupture

Saline ruptures are easily identifiable due to the material’s thinness. Silicone ruptures may not be recognizable for months, if not years. While ruptures are an undesirable hassle, they do not pose any risk to your overall health and are not a safety concern.

Capsular Contracture

This occurs when the scar tissue surrounding the implant tightens and squeezes the implant. Capsular contracture contributes to an altered breast appearance and can lead to significant breast pain. This complication can only be remedied by replacing the implant with a new one. Capsular contracture is uncomfortable and should be corrected but does not pose any long-term threat to your health.

Additional Side Effects

Implant complications can include breast asymmetry, implant malposition, hematoma (collection of blood near the incision), infection, and changes in the sensation of the nipple or breast.

Breast Implant Illness

Some women with breast implants have developed symptoms similar to those of autoimmune disorders. Some of these symptoms include fatigue, memory loss, mental confusion, joint pain, mood swings, and hair loss. Since breast implants were a connecting factor between these women, many have begun to call these symptoms “breast implant illness”. While the name suggests that breast implants are responsible, there is no proven link between the symptoms and the implants.

Are There Alternatives to Breast Implants?

Even with the success rates of breast implants, some women are hesitant about the idea of a foreign object in their body. Because of this, surgeons have created autologous breast augmentation (fat transfer breast augmentation). This procedure may be ideal for women who want bigger breasts without implants. Autologous breast augmentation harvests a patient’s fat and uses it to enlarge the breasts. While this procedure can increase breast size and do so with minimal scarring, there are many downsides, especially in comparison to implants. Unlike silicone implants, there is no way to ensure a desirable breast shape, and even in the best of situations, where a good deal of the transferred fat survives, fat transfer will only increase the breast size slightly.

What Is the Best Option?

While the best technique will always depend on the patient’s aesthetic desires and medical conditions, the majority of patients and surgeons still conclude that implants are the safest and most effective way to enlarge the breasts. Breast implants are among the most tested and studied medical devices—they have been for decades—and even after all of those studies, they are still passing every test. Nothing comes without risk, and breast implants are no different. That said, complications are rare, and those experiencing them are in the minority. Hundreds of thousands of women choose to get breast implants every year. Most of them have never experienced a negative, and instead, claim enhanced confidence and improvement in body perception.

For more information about breast implant safety, or if you have any additional breast augmentation questions, contact Dr. Cohn by calling (205) 930-1600 or by filling out our online contact form.