After any operation there is a risk of problems immediately afterwards, such as bleeding, pain, wound infection and bruising.
Most women don’t have too many problems, but possible problems include:
It is uncommon to have an infection in the tissue around the implant. But if this happens, the implant usually has to be taken out until the infection has cleared. The implant can then be replaced with a new one. You will be given antibiotics at the time of your operation to reduce the risk of infection. If an implant needs to be removed due to infection, the final appearance of the reconstructed breast may not be as good.
Tightening or hardening of tissue around the implant (capsular contracture)
A breast implant is not a natural part of you so your body to tries to keep it separate. It does this by forming a ‘capsule’ of scar tissue around the implant. Over a few months the scar tissue shrinks (contracts) as part of the natural healing process. In about 10% of women (1 in 10), the capsule can become very tight. This is called capsular contracture. If it happens, your breast may feel hard, painful or change shape. Sometimes an operation is needed to remove the implant and replace it with a new one. A new procedure called lipomodelling can also sometimes be used to help with capsular contracture.
Smoking, infection and radiotherapy increase the risk of capsular contracture.
Damage (rupture) to implants
It is very difficult to damage implants. It’s fine to continue with your normal activities, including sports and air travel, without worrying that it will affect your implant. However, sometimes implants can split or tear.
Most silicone implants contain a firm gel that is very unlikely to leak in significant amounts, even if the outer cover of the implant is damaged.
Saline-filled implants are not commonly used in the UK as they are more likely to leak and don’t look or feel as natural as silicone implants. If saline leaks out of an expander device it does not cause any harm. But, the implant will go flat and need to be replaced.