Breast Augmentation Top Surgery Complications

While breast augmentation top surgery, formerly referred to as MTF top surgery or MTF breast augmentation, can provide life-changing outcomes, it is essential to be aware of the potential complications that can arise from this procedure. In this article, we discuss the risks associated with breast augmentation such as capsular contracture, implant displacement, and leaking silicone implants. Additionally, we provide information on ways to reduce your risks, including choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon and taking precautions to protect your overall health.

Breast augmentation can give you amazing results. However, it also poses some risks that can lead to complications or unfavorable outcomes. Whether you’re undergoing a plastic surgery procedure or a routine surgical procedure, it’s important to remember that all surgeries carry risk.

Risks associated with all surgical procedures include:

  • Infection
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Fluid build-up (seroma)
  • Excessive bleeding / bruising (hematoma)
  • Scarring 
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia

Overall, risks associated with plastic surgery are relatively small. The risk of experiencing a serious complication is less than half of one percent, while mortality risks extraordinarily low.

Risks of Breast Augmentation

Capsular Contracture – Though capsular contracture occurs in relatively low numbers, it is the most common complication associated with breast augmentation. Capsular contracture is a scar that forms around the implant, resulting in constriction and misshapen appearance. If you develop mild capsular contracture, you may not even notice. In more severe cases, you may need revision surgery to correct the problem.

Breast Implant Displacement – Though uncommon, it is possible for your breast implants to move out of position following surgery. The larger the implant, the greater chance it will displace after surgery. Significant shifts may require revision surgery to move them back into position.

Saline Implant Deflation – It is possible for saline implants to leak or deflate. If this happens, it will happen quickly. Your chest will shrink down to its original size in a matter of hours or days. Because saline implants are filled with saltwater, deflation is not dangerous. However, you will need implant replacement surgery. The risk of deflation is about 4% during the first year post-surgery, and then reduces to about 1% thereafter.

Silicone Implant Rupture – Silicone implant rupture is essentially the same thing as saline implant deflation except that silicone isn’t quickly absorbed by your body. Because silicone gel stays together, you may not notice for months or even years. If silicone gel leaks out of the implant shell, it may lead to inflammation  and possibly capsular contracture. New silicone implants have thicker shells, and a presumed lower rate of rupture (studies are currently underway). This complication is rare, and will necessitate revision surgery.

Rippling – Rippling or wrinkling occurs when saline shifts around inside your implants. It may also occur with silicone implants, but it’s far less common. This complication can be  most troublesome if it occurs in the upper half of the breasts because it may be evident in low-cut tops or swimwear.

Loss of Nipple SensationNumbness in the nipple after breast augmentation is possible. This loss of sensation may be permanent in some cases. The risk of permanent numbness is about 15% nationally. If nipple numbness is unacceptable to you, then you should carefully consider this risk prior to surgery.

Reducing Risks From Breast Augmentations

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of complications before and after breast augmentation. One of the most important ways to reduce risk is to select a board-certified plastic surgeon for your procedure to ensure that your doctor has extensive surgical training, has passed rigorous testing, and is current on all of the latest surgical techniques and advances in patient safety – qualifications that all of our surgeons here have!

Once you’ve selected a qualified surgeon for your procedure, it’s very important that you discuss  your medical history and cosmetic goals with them during your consultation. From this information, your surgeon will be able to determine if you are healthy enough to undergo a major surgical procedure. This information will also help your surgeon determine if extra precautions are necessary during or after surgery.

Age and Risk

Generally speaking, your overall health (rather than age) is a much better indicator of your risk level. However, because older patients are at a higher risk of serious medical conditions, they may have higher risks. You may not be a good candidate for surgery if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Heavy smoker or drinker
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • A bleeding disorder
  • Lung or heart disease

Breast augmentation may not be for everyone. Your surgeon will be able to determine if surgery is right for you following a personal examination and consultation.

Other Complications

You can read more about other uncommon complications in breast augmentation top surgery in the following articles:

Safety is a Team Effort

It’s important to remember that high standards of patient care, safety, and successful results are the product of the patient, the surgeon, and the surgical staff working in tandem to give you the best outcome possible.