General complications possible in any surgery
As a first possible complication even before surgery, allergic reactions to anesthesia is always a possibility. General anesthesia is considered to be more risky than local anesthesia. However, there can be allergic reactions to any type of anesthetic.
Although this is very rare, post-operative bleeding is a possibility, requiring another operation to control the bleeding and to drain the blood that collects.
Other possible complications are hematoma (a collection of clotted blood), seroma (a collection of the watery portion of the blood) and thrombosis (abnormal clotting).
All of these are possible complications arising from any form of surgery. Obviously, in serious medical conditions, where surgery is unavoidable, we have to accept these risks and go ahead with the procedure. However, whether such risks are justified for a purely superficial cosmetic procedure, like breast augmentation, is highly debatable.
Complication specific to breast augmentation surgery
Loss of sensation is common, although mostly temporary. Permanent loss or reduction in sensitivity in the nipples, or the in the breasts overall, can and does occur, although rarely.
There are chances of excessive scarring or inner scar tissue forming after the operation. Implants can interfere with mammograms and, therefore, more views need to be taken in order to give reliable results.
When there are definite, thick capsules around the implants, there is risk of calcifications. Another possible complication is a milky discharge from the nipple that is not connected with the normal milk production of breast-feeding. Usually, this stops by itself spontaneously, but there are instances when medication is needed or, sometimes, even removal of the implants. Although this is a rare occurrence, one should be aware of the possibility in order to reach an informed decision.
Another possible complication is atrophy (loss or shrinking) of breast tissues. According to the FDA, “the pressure of the breast implant may cause the breast tissue to thin and shrink. This can occur while implants are still in place or following implant removal without replacement”.
In extreme and rare cases, there is necrosis or death of breast tissues, breast envelope and/or the line of incision. Radiation or chemotherapy, smoking, impaired blood circulation can all increase the possibilities of necrosis.
Another very rare, but scary, situation occurs when there is extrusion of the implant. This happens when the body rejects the implant as a foreign body and actually tries to push it out through the skin. This is similar to the reaction of the body when it pushes out a piercing or a thorn or a splinter. When this happens, the implant can be seen under the skin. In such cases, immediate removal of the implant is necessary, before it actually breaks through the skin. If it does break through, there is real risk of an infection and there will definitely be serious scarring.
Infection: Although rare in these days of advanced surgical procedures, post-operative infections are possible, requiring the implant to be removed. Even after such an infection is dealt with, the patient may need to wait for some months before another operation can be done to re-insert the implant. A common infection is Staphylococcus and, if it has to occur, it will usually be within the first 4 to 6 weeks following the surgery.
Alternative Breast Enlargement Methods
With all these possible complications associated with breast augmentation surgery, these days many better-informed women prefer to opt for non-surgical breast enhancement solutions, such as breast-actives. Several techniques for this have developed in recent years, including natural or herbal breast enhancement. It will be fruitful for a woman considering breast augmentation to research these alternative options.