By Dr. Parag Telang,
In the world of plastic surgery, vanity can be a fickle muse. To D or not to D?, earlier this question hardly even mattered but the timely evolution of technological advances and increased pop culture visibility has changed the way Indians now view breasts augmentation. In the year 2020-2021, breast augmentation was one of the top 5 cosmetic surgical procedures in the USA as per the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) statistics. Hence, now it is safe to say women do know whether they want D or not. This procedure has stood the test of time and remains one of the safest cosmetic procedures. Not only breast augmentation brings a natural feel but there is also a paradigm shift in the way women start seeing themselves. They may opt for breast augmentation to help achieve what they feel is a more cosmetically appealing shape and size of their breasts. Women of all races, ethnicity and socio-economic background opt for breast augmentation using cohesive gel implants. However, this procedure still remains shrouded in mystery due to privacy-related issues. While these implants have countless benefits for patients, they do increase the risk of significant misinformation among the community. There are many consistent misconceptions surrounding breast implants and breast augmentation surgery.
The most common myths that exist are: Do they feel natural? Whether the cohesive gel implants have any life after which they degrade or need to be changed? Do they interfere with nipple sensation, breastfeeding? Do they cause breast cancer? Can the implants get ruptured or leak? In one word the answers to all these questions are: Yes, they feel completely natural and nobody can make out that a woman has implants done. The current generation of cohesive gel silicone implants are almost for life and do not require to be changed if the patient does not have pain or any other symptom related to the implants. Usually, there is some temporary nipple area numbness after the surgery which settles in a few weeks. When the implants are placed behind the chest muscle (subpectoral) they do not cause interference with breast ductules and hence breastfeeding can continue like normal. There has been no direct causal association between breast implants and breast malignancy. Since these implants contain silicone as a form of stable cohesive gel, they do not leak or rupture and can withstand all sorts of pressure without any problem.
Some known complications after breast implant surgery include infection, seroma (fluid) accumulation, hardening of the implants due to formation of a capsule around the implants, rotation of the implants (seen in anatomical implants) and rippling or folds on the implants. However, the chances of infection will be minuscule with the use of appropriate antibiotics and strict attention to asepsis. In the case of seroma formation, this is also normally not seen with the use of proper compression dressing after surgery. When it comes to the capsular formation, it has been seen in less than 1 in 1000 patients and the incidence can be reduced with proper haemostasis and a precise pocket dissection. The risk in anatomical implants can be averted with complete attention during insertion to prevent them from flipping over or sideways and this has a slight learning curve for the surgeon. At last, with the use of cohesive gel implants such as Integrity from Sebbin (France), the incidence of rippling also can be almost eliminated.
Currently, there is a lot of discussion about a peculiar complication associated with silicone implants which is an immune cell cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This is an extremely rare complication and happens several years after the surgery. It may start as a new swelling in one of the breasts and may not cause any other symptoms. However, this complication has been seen in less than 1 in 30,000 cases and has been linked to the texturing on the surface of silicone implants. To prevent this complication, most of the implant manufacturers have shifted to either a smooth surface or nano-texturing which has not been linked to this particular complication.
Though a lot has changed in the past years, the popularity of breast implants certainly hasn’t. It is one of the very safe procedures and gives a tremendous boost to the self-esteem of women who get them done. They remain the most preferred method of breast augmentation all over the world!
(The author is Consultant Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon and Director of Designer Bodyz Centre for advanced cosmetic surgery located in Mumbai. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)