Breast Augmentation Myths

By: Beth Phillips, RPAC

As springtime arrives in Syracuse, I have an increasing number of patients coming to our office for breast augmentation consultations. As we discuss the information regarding the procedure, I seem to hear a lot of the same misinformation. I feel it would be beneficial to discuss some of the most common myths or misconceptions surrounding breast augmentation.

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Myth: Breast implants need to be changed every 5-10 years.

Breast implants only need to be exchanged if there is a problem with the current implant or a desire for a change in implant. As the old saying goes, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”! The implant companies currently have a 10-year warranty on most implants, which is where I believe the misconception stems from. I tell my patients that the usual expected life of the implant is 15-20 years. There is a lifetime product replacement on most implants.

Myth: I will not be able to breast feed if I have breast augmentation.

The placement of breast implants does not significantly impact the ability to breast feed. The incision used to place the implant is the biggest factor in affecting nursing. Implants that are placed through the underarm or in the crease under the breast allow the implant to be positioned without disturbing milk glands or ducts. Implants placed via an incision along the border of the areola will disrupt a number of the milk ducts.

bigstock-Plastic22320401-400Myth: Silicone implants are unsafe.

For the most part, silicone breast implants appear to be safe. Most breast implants being used are FDA approved. According to the FDA, “Studies to date do not indicate that silicone gel-filled implants cause breast cancer, reproductive problems, or connective tissue disease. However, no study has been large enough or long enough to completely rule out these or other rare complications.”

Myth: Placing a bigger implant will fill up my breast skin if it is droopy. Implants are placed to increase the volume of a breast.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you put enough volume in the breast, it will eventually fill in loose skin and provide a lift to the breast. We frequently see patients who have had augmentation done by physicians who have encouraged them to go larger to avoid the scars which are associated with a lift. If a breast has a moderate to severe droop (ptosis), it is necessary to remove skin to be able to elevate the nipple position. Placement of a larger implant will just make the breasts larger and droopy!

Myth: Breast cancer surveillance is not as dependable.

Patients with breast implants should still undergo routine breast screening. Studies have shown that implants can potentially obscure some of the breast tissue during mammography. Patients with implants require a few additional images to obtain effective screening. Studies also show that cancer detection and prognosis did not appear to be affected by the presence of implants.

Myth: Breasts with implants always look fake.

Patients very frequently come in and are very concerned about having a natural-looking appearance following breast augmentation. I reassure them that almost always a natural appearing result can be obtained as long as they are willing to work within the parameters of what their natural anatomy will allow. Choosing the right size and shape in conjunction with a surgeon who is experienced in the procedure should allow for a natural appearance.

There is plenty of information available on breast augmentation online. I always caution patients to be sure there information comes from a reputable site. Remember, just because it is on the Internet, does not make it true! I also suggest that the best way to know if breast augmentation is best for you is to speak to a trusted health care provider with experience and credentials in the field.

For more information contact us at www.plasticsurgeryofsyracuse.com or call us 315-663-0112

I had already started writing this month’s article when some information resurfaced in the mass media regarding a rare form, but treatable form of cancer (lymphoma, not breast cancer) that usually develops as a fluid build-up around breast implants. This was initially described in 2006 and has been once again finding headlines in the news. There has been ongoing research since then to better understand the disease process and options for prevention and treatment.

As the information was reported in the news, we had many calls to our office inquiring about the relevance to our patients with breast implants. I felt I should shed some light on this topic along with the planned discussion about breast augmentation myths.

This disease is extremely rare. There are 10 to11 million women worldwide with breast implants. The FDA states that there have been 359 reports received, but only up to 160 cases, which have been verified between 15 countries over a ten-year period.

The cancer, referred to as Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) thus far, appears to have been verified with textured implants only, but data continues to be collected from new case studies. The implants have been both saline and silicone filled. The common denominator appears to be the textured surface. The prevalence is estimated to be 1 in 30,000 for patients with textured implants. Most patients are cured by simply removing the implants and surrounding scar tissue. These patients often have smooth implants replaced with no recurrence of the cancer. At the current time, there is no call to exchange textured implants, unless there is an obvious problem. The FDA suggests regular self-exam and encourages patients to contact their physician if they have any concerning changes.

For additional information about BIA-ALCL, there are websites provided by the American Association of Plastic Surgeons: www.plasticsurgery.org/alcl and the FDA: https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm239995.htm