Why do people get breast implants after a mastectomy and are they safe? To answer this question, it is important to know what a mastectomy does. This surgical treatment removes tissue from the breast, nipple, and areola in order to treat breast cancer.

Because this surgery causes significant physical changes, surgeons also offer breast reconstruction surgery. These procedures involve placing implants in the treated area that will maintain breast structure. This can be done immediately following a mastectomy or much later.

Breast implants are usually made of silicone and can be filled with silicone gel or saline fluid. These implants are designed to be harmless and safe for your body. Learn more about breast reconstruction surgery and the types of implants we offer here at Garza Plastic Surgery.

Types of Breast Implants

The most popular breast implant is a silicone gel implant, also called a gummy bear breast implant due to its texture. The compound inside the implant retains its shape even if the outer shell is broken. In contrast, older silicone implant compounds are stickier and do not retain their shape as effectively.

Similar to a silicone gel implant, these are shaped implant devices filled with a sterile saline solution. If the implant leaks, the body absorbs and releases the saltwater solution naturally. 

Finally, at Garza Plastic Surgery, we offer smooth implants. These implants offer more natural movement and shape. However, smooth implants can sometimes ripple under the skin, leading to small visual or palpable changes. 

All of these implants are designed so your body will accept them easily. There are also no links between the implants we use and diseases or cancers. 

Keep in mind that while reconstructive surgery can help you retain breast structure, it will change how your breast feels. This is because there is no way to regrow the lost tissue. This is why we use implants to replace the shape of the removed tissue.

Are Breast Implants Safe?

The biggest question and concern that people have is, do breast implants cause cancer? Most types of breast implants do not. Only Allergan textured breast implants were linked to a rare form of thyroid cancer. These implants have been outdated for some time and were recently recalled by the FDA. We do not use this type of breast implant at Garza Plastic Surgery.

While there are risks and potential side effects of breast reconstruction surgery, each implant we use is designed to be safe. For instance, the compound inside of a gummy bear breast implant will retain its shape, even if its shell ruptures. If a saline implant ever leaked, the saltwater inside the implant would be absorbed and released by the body. Smooth implants may ripple under the skin but would do no harm.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that an implant will last forever. As time passes, the chance that an implant will fail increases. If this happens, additional reconstructive surgery may be required.

What are the risks?

As with any surgery, there are some risks and side effects associated with immediate breast reconstruction. Some risks are higher for certain types of reconstructive surgery.

In terms of the reconstructive surgery we offer, side effects include the following:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Trouble healing
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Infection
  • Changes to breast shape
  • Minor nerve damage

Occasionally, a lump may form around the surgery site. This is caused by clear natural fluid gathering in the breast. 

Because mastectomy and breast reconstruction is an invasive process, your treatment plan should include regular screenings. As you visit your doctor after your operation, they will be able to identify and diagnose any side effects or complications.

What does recovery look like?

Recovery time from breast reconstruction surgery ranges from a few days to several weeks. Your breasts will be wrapped directly after your operation. You will be required to keep your breasts supported with wraps or supportive garments during your recovery. You may be given medication to help you prevent pain or infection after the procedure.

For the first few days after your operation, avoid heavy lifting and reduce activity. This allows the incisions to heal properly and reduces the risk of bleeding.

Smoking will increase the risk of some side effects and may increase your recovery time. Doing gentle exercise will help prevent muscle weakness and soreness. 

Alternative options to breast implants

If you are concerned about implant-based breast reconstruction, you still have options. At Garza Plastic Surgery, we offer a soft-tissue reconstruction treatment called DIEP Flap. This surgery uses soft tissues from your body instead of an implant. Essentially, DIEP Flap surgery gives you a tummy tuck while reconstructing lost breast tissue.

If you have any questions about reconstructive surgery, visit Garza Plastic Surgery in Belle Meade. We offer consultations, and our doctors are eager to help you find the right treatment for you. Call us today at (615) 620-7800.