Breast implants are one of the most frequently requested cosmetic surgeries. The surgery is considered to be safe, and the implants themselves are also considered to be safe for the women who get them. It’s important that the procedure is performed by a licensed and experienced surgeon, who is knowledgeable about breast implants and their characteristics.
We all know the importance of routine breast examinations and screenings to detect cancer. It’s just as important for women with implants to undergo regular breast checks for any concerns that may have arisen with the implants.
Why are breast implant checks so important?
With the increased safety in design, breast implants are considered to be one of the safer cosmetic surgery prosthetics. However, even the safest and most reliable of products can be susceptible to damage or degradation over time. A routine checkup with your surgeon can ensure that your implants are in great shape, even a few years after surgery.
Some of the concerns that your surgeon could be checking for include the following:
- Slow leak of the implant; this is more of a concern with silicone implants. Saline implants would leak faster, which would be very visually obvious.
- Rupture of the implant; rupture is not always immediately obvious even to the woman with the implants.
- Shifting of the implant; this can be seen when the implant shifts down away from where it was originally placed, and moves into the breast crease.
If you have been experiencing any strange new symptoms with your breasts, it’s important that you see your doctor right away. These could include tenderness, pain, swelling or lumps, along with the softening or hardening of the breast.
Are there increased cancer risks with implants?
Implants do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer, that is, cancer which forms in the cells of the breast. However, a very rare type of immune system cancer, which grows in the fluid and scar tissue that forms around the breast implant, can occur in one in 1000 to one in 10,000 cases. This condition is known as breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), and has only been observed in patients with textured implants.
In the majority of cases, removing the implants and associated scar tissue is all that is required to treat the cancer. However, if the cancer has spread to other areas in the body, then further cancer treatment will be required.
There have been situations where breast implants have concealed breast cancer itself. However, this can be combated with communication prior to a mammogram. Technicians can take additional pictures, ones that are specifically for women who have implants. These additional pictures allow doctors to see more of the breast tissue.
With routine breast exams that also examine the implants, any potential concerns related to cancer can be identified in the very earliest of stages and then treated accordingly.
What happens if there are issues with the implants?
Any concerns with the implants that are detected by the doctor can be treated by the doctor. The course of treatment will depend entirely on the nature of the concern and the wishes of the patient.
Some women prefer to have the implants removed entirely, also ensuring that any silicone gel is removed. Others may prefer corrective surgery that either replaces a leaking or ruptured implant, or moves it back into place if it has shifted.
If the implant is close to being 10 years old, it might be suggested that you get it replaced so that you can avoid future concerns.
It’s important to keep in mind that, even with the importance of routine breast and breast implant checks, your implants only pose a very low risk to your health. If they leak or rupture, the consequences are normally cosmetic. Be sure to always discuss any concerns or changes to your breasts with your doctor.