Breast Implants: Part 4, Further Surgeries and Possible Issues
At last! The long process is over, and you have a brand new breast.
You may choose to leave it at that. But most women, for cosmetic reasons, decide on one or even several further surgeries: one to build a nipple, and perhaps others to “sculpt” the new breast a bit, or to work on making both breasts a good match.
Your surgeon will generally wait 2 or 3 months once your implant has been placed to make you a new nipple. Tissue will be taken from some other part of your body and grafted onto your new breast, with stitches; when healed, you’ll have what amounts to a slightly erect nipple. Obviously, this new nipple won’t have any feeling; but it’s the final touch in constructing a natural-looking breast.
After the nipple heals, you can choose to have an areola (the darker skin around your nipple) added, via tattoo.
Final touches to your breast
Once the implant has had a chance to settle into place, you may find that it doesn’t “hang” just right; the skin is too thin in places, allowing the shape of the implant to show through; or there’s an indentation that needs filling. Or, you may feel that your other breast needs some work, to help it match your new one. These issues may be addressed at the same time as your nipple reconstruction, or they may require further surgery, either before or after nipple reconstruction.
How does the surgeon “shape” your breast? Fat can be removed from another part of your body via liposuction, then injected into areas in your breast that need filling. Artificial skin (common names are AlloDerm® or Strattice™) can be used to augment areas where your own skin is too thin. Stitches can tuck skin here and there to make final adjustments to how your breast hangs. And, the same types of procedures can be done on your other breast, if it needs an “adjustment.”
In some cases, women have an immune reaction to their new implant, which causes scar tissue to form around the implant. This scar tissue squeezes the implant, which be painful, and can change the position of your breast on your chest. If that happens, the surgeon will need to go in and release this scar tissue.
Once all of your surgeries are done, and you’re pleased with the results – you’re done! At least for the time being. If you have a silicone implant, your surgeon may want you to have an MRI every few years, to check for a possible rupture. If your implant is saline, this isn’t necessary; you’ll know if it ruptures because your breast will “deflate.”
At some point, your implant will probably need to be replaced; like any man-made device, implants don’t last forever. Most implants carry a 10-year warranty, so most surgeons consider that span their useful life.
While you may be fortunate, and have no problems with your implant past the 10-year mark, it’s wise to watch for issues: skin rippling, a change in how your breast hangs, new indentations, etc. If you need a new implant, it’ll require surgery to remove the old one and replace it; but at least you won’t need to go through the expander process again.