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Complications of Breast Augmentation Surgery

There are several complications of breast augmentation/implants that should be understood before undergoing the surgery:

Infection, while very rare (less than 1% of cases), has consequences that can be difficult. An infected breast implants would present itself as a swollen, red breast with increased pain and possible fever and general unwellness. Unfortunately, if this rare complication is to occur, it will almost certainly require the implant on the infected side to be removed. Furthermore, after the implant is removed, it cannot be safely replaced for at least several months. This delay in replacing the implant helps to ensure that once the implant is replaced, the infection does not recur. Dr. Backstein uses intravenous antibiotics during the surgical procedure as well as a full week prescription of oral antibiotic pills to minimize the chance of this problem. In summary, infection is very rare but needs to be understood by patients due to the significance of this complication on the breast augmentation experience.

Hematoma is a complication that generally occurs within the first 24 hours after surgery and involves leakage of blood into the same space (pocket) that the implant is occupying. It is generally caused by a small blood vessel that was encountered during the surgery starting to bleed in the first while after surgery. It is important to note that this is not life-threatening bleeding but rather a slow leak of blood that stops on its own. The reason it is significant is that if the amount of blood in the pocket is more than just a small amount, leaving the blood there can lead to distortion of the breast or infection. In such cases, the patient would be brought back to the operating room to clean out the leaked blood. Unlike with infection, the implant is put right back and after surgery, and the breasts are "back to square one".

Capsular Contracture is a relatively common complication with some studies showing a rate of up to 10% of cases. Dr. Backstein's experience is that this complication occurs in about 3% of his cases, Capsular contracture is typically a delayed complication in that it takes weeks or months to develop. Capuslar Contracture refers to a situation in which the body's normal and healthy response to a foreign material (the implant) which is the isolation of the foreign material from the surrounding tissues by a thin layer of scar tissue is over-done. In such cases, the normal thin, pliable layer of scar tissue becomes progressively thicker and heavier to a point where the affected breast can begin to look contracted, tight and even raised on the chest compared to the other side. The problem nearly always occurs on only one side and many studies have tried but failed to identify the exact cause of this complication. A patient that develops this complication may need to be brought back for surgery called a Capsulotomy in which the scar tissue surrounding the implant is scored and released to allow the breast to relax and take on a normal shape and feel.

It should be noted that the treatments required for the complications mentioned above are all OHIP-covered and will not require additional payments.

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