Answers to Common Questions1. How safe are silicone implants? In 1997, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began one of the most extensive research studies in medical history by appointing the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science (IOM) to examine potential complications during or after surgery. The IOM consisted of a 13-member volunteer committee, including six women. The committee was composed of members of the medical, scientific and educational communities with experience in radiology, women’s health, neurology, oncology, silicone chemistry, rheumatology, immunology, epidemiology, internal medicine and plastic surgery. No IOM members had on-going relationships or conflicts of interest related to any implant lawsuits. The result: After reviewing years of evidence and research concerning silicone gel-filled breast implants, the IOM found that “Evidence suggests diseases or conditions such as connective tissue diseases, cancer, neurological diseases or other systemic complaints or conditions are no more common in women with breast implants than in women without implants.” 2. Why does the body form a capsule around the implant? As a natural reaction to any device placed in the body, scar tissue will form around the breast implant surface creating a capsule. 3. Do implants influence the occurrence of breast cancer? No studies have ever shown this to be a concern for humans. There is no evidence that implants cause cancer. 4. How do breast implants affect mammography? Breast implants may interfere with finding breast cancer during mammography and may make mammography more difficult. It is important that you tell your mammography technologist that you have an implant before the procedure. Special displacement techniques and additional views may be required. Discuss any family history of breast cancer with your doctor. 5. Is it possible to get a silicone allergy? It is possible for anyone to develop an allergy to almost any substance on earth; however silicone allergies are very rare. We are all exposed to silicone in our environment every day. It is found in many household items, such as polishes, suntan and hand lotion, antiperspirants, soaps, processed foods, waterproof coatings and chewing gum. 6. What is the average life expectancy of an implant? Implants are not lifetime devices; therefore it is likely that they may need to be replaced sometime in your life. The time period varies from women to woman. Some women need replacement surgery in only a few years while others may go 10 – 20 years. There are several different reasons why a woman might need replacement surgery. Sometimes it is a matter of choice, such as a size change or an implant style change, and sometimes removal and replacement is necessary because of a complication, such as deflation, or shifting of the implant. 7. How long should I wait to resume exercise and other strenuous activities after implant surgery? Your doctor will be your best guide regarding how long you will need to remain off work and will advise you when and how to resume activities. Recovery periods vary from woman to woman. Generally the first few days are the most uncomfortable. The average time to return to full activities is four to six weeks. It is important not to sweat into the incision while it is healing. Therefore curtail activity and sun tanning until after the incision is healed and sealed. Don’t over-do activity, especially of the upper body, too early. Let your body rest and heal, you want to minimize swelling around the implant. Going into a Jacuzzi or bath after a month is usually okay. During the early time, one to two weeks following surgery, you don’t want to soak the incision. Be sure you check with your doctor before returning to your workouts. Patients vary greatly in recovery times. Walking is generally recommended to encourage circulation. The larger the implant you receive the heavier the breast will be. You should wear good support bras while sunning to minimize pull on the skin and ptosis (drooping) of the breast. 8. Can I go to a tanning salon or sunbathe if I have implants? Tanning at salons or sunbathing will not hurt the implants but may make the scars worse. You should avoid getting sun or tanning rays on the incisions for at least one year after surgery as tanning rays will turn the incisions dark permanently. The implants may feel warm and may take longer to cool down than your body. 9. When can I resume flying? Many women fly in airplanes with implants. There may be slight expansion and contraction of the shell with changes in pressure. This may result in a small amount of air bubbles in the implants. With gel implants as with saline filled implants you may feel or hear fluid sounds (gurgling). This should correct itself within 24 – 48 hours. 10. When can I wear an underwire bra again? Most doctors ask that women wait 3 months before wearing under wire bras after implant surgery. Your body will be forming scar tissue around the implant for 3 months. During this time the pressure of the wires could cause the scar tissue to form in such a way that an indentation from the wires could become permanent. After this initial healing time, under wire bras should be worn intermittently to avoid permanent indentation. 11. Will my breast still move like normal breasts? This depends upon multiple factors, such as the type of implant you receive, the pocket dissection, the way your body holds the implant and whether or not there is any degree of capsular contracture. It is possible for many women to have breast implants that are soft and move nicely, while other women have results that are firmer with an implant more fixed in position. 12. How much does the implant weigh? The weight of implants varies with size and fill volume, a 250 cc implant filled with 250 cc of gel weighs approximately 250 grams. 13. Will getting implants cause stretch marks of my breasts? Insertion of implants can cause stretch marks but rarely does. If you are concerned, go for a smaller size implant to minimize the stretching of the skin, or choose a Spectrum adjustable implant to slowly stretch the skin over time. 14. Does being overweight affect breast augmentation surgery? You should be close to your ideal weight. A significant loss of weight after receiving breast implants could alter the results in a manner that is not satisfactory to you. There could be some ptosis (drooping) and reduction in size. A significant gain in weight could cause an increase in breast size. 15. What is the ideal age to get breast implants? It is important to be in general good health so age is not important. 16. What will happen during pregnancy? Every woman is an individual and therefore has different results whether before a pregnancy or after. Your breasts will enlarge and will go through all the usual changes associated with pregnancy. The amount of enlargement will vary from woman to woman and the size of the implants will factor into this as well. 17. Can I still breast-feed? Many women with breast implants have successfully breast fed their babies. Current studies indicate that women with breast implants whether gel or saline, do not have any higher levels of silicone in their milk than women without breast implants. Breast implants can, however, interfere with the ability of some women to breast-feed. The peri-areola incision site is more likely to affect this ability. Some women experience mastitis, inflammation in the breast ducts, during this time, which can also cause capsular contracture. Taking antibiotics when symptoms first appear may minimize the potential for this problem. You should always report signs of inflammation to your physician.
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