Risks of Breast Surgery

breast implantsObviously, this is a question that is foremost in the mind of everyone who is considering breast augmentation.  (And if it isn’t, it should be!)

These are some of the risks I discovered.

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is the most common risk of breast augmentation, affecting up to 5 percent of women to varying degrees.

Without boring you with the overly long medical terms, I can sum it up by saying it happens when the patient’s body reacts to the foreign body by creating a capsule (or pocket) of fibrous tissue surrounding the implant.  This tissue can harden and contract around the implant, causing the breasts to feel unnaturally hard or even to change position.

Some people think this is the implant itself hardening when in fact it is the tissue around the implant causing this effect.  Capsular contracture can be mild, requiring no treatment, or more severe, which requires the removal of the breast implant.

There is no single known cause of capsular contracture, although textured saline implants placed under the muscle seem to have the lowest rate of it.

Signs that you have capsular contracture include breasts that are painful, hard or misshapen.

Loss of Nipple Sensitivity

At the risk of over sharing, I will tell you this was a BIG concern for me.  I was concerned if I lost sensitivity, I would lose interest in sex and make implants a waste of time and money.

To be honest, what I learned didn’t make me feel any better.  I couldn’t find any studies with proven statistics, but plastic surgeons indicated anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of women will experience a change in sensitivity.  This can range from numbness to painful over-sensitivity.

Periareolar (nipple) and transaxillary (armpit) incisions increase the risk of sensitivity changes.  Implants placed over the muscle also have an increased risk of affecting sensitivity.

Loss of nipple sensitivity is one of the risks of breast surgery that I was really concerned about.


Infection is a risk associated with any type of surgery, so it is a risk of breast augmentation surgery.  Most doctors will prescribe antibiotics after surgery to help prevent infection, but in rare cases, an infection will occur anyways.  Symptoms of infection include fever, swelling and redness.

Most infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics. In severe cases, antibiotics won’t work, and the implants will have to be removed.

You can decrease your risk of infection by very carefully following all of the instructions your doctor gives you.

Anesthesia Risks

Anesthesia risks are also associated with any surgery, and breast surgery is no exception.  Complications from general anesthetic are rare in healthy people, but in the most severe cases can include heart attack and brain damage.  The after-effects of general anesthetic can include nausea and temporary depression.

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