ongoing care

Aug 09, 2012

Follow-Up Care After Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation requires a commitment to maintaining your health after surgery. As long as you have your implants, you'll need to have follow-up visits with your plastic surgeon. Because aesthetic breast augmentation is considered to be an elective procedure, the costs of follow-up care, revisions and routine screening will probably not be covered by insurance, unless your implants pose a risk to your health.

Postoperative Checkups

After you have your surgery, your plastic surgeon will want to see you for regular postoperative checkups. Unless you have any complications, these visits will become less frequent, until you're seeing your surgeon only once every one or two years. In the postoperative stage, these checkups allow your surgeon to keep an eye on your incisions, monitor you for signs of infection and look for implant complications. As time goes on, the visits will focus on checking the position of your implants and identifying signs of leakage.

MRI Screening

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a radiologic screening tool that is used to check for "silent" silicone implant ruptures. With a silent rupture, you may not have any of the usual symptoms of silicone leakage, like redness, lumps or pain in the affected area. The FDA recommends that women with silicone implants have their first MRI screening three years after the initial surgery, then every two years after that.

Surgical Revisions

Your body changes over time, and so will the position and appearance of your implants. Revision may require creating new incision lines or modifying the position of the creases below your breasts. Common reasons for revision include:

  • Capsular contracture: Your tissues tighten around the implant, making breasts look and feel hardened.
  • Rippling: The implant wrinkles, resulting in a rippled effect in the skin.
  • Rotation of a "teardrop" implant: A teardrop implant turns, making one or both breasts appear to be turned sideways.
  • Bottoming out: The implant slides down too low on the chest, giving your breasts a saggy appearance.
  • Breadloafing (symmastia): The implants meet at the breastbone, forming the shape of a loaf of bread.

If you're unhappy with the placement, size or position of your implants, you may decide to have the surgery revised to get the results you want. Some plastic surgeons will waive their fee for a simple revision, but you may still be charged for operating room time, anesthesia and facility fees.

Removal/Replacement

Unless you're one of the small percentage of women who have no problems with their implants, you'll probably need to have them removed and replaced during your lifetime. You may also decide you want to replace your breast implants for cosmetic reasons, like changing your breast size or choosing a different type of implant. When you choose your implants, compare manufacturer's warranties to find an agreement that will give you the maximum flexibility.