Have you been contemplating whether you should get breast implants or not? Or maybe you already have them but are quite unsure as to how you should think or feel about the side effects you still have a few years after your breast augmentation surgery. Yes, you can expect discomfort and sensitivity immediately after your surgery, but the pain could appear after years of having your breast implants. Should that be considered normal? Is breast implant pain after 1 year more common than any discomfort felt after 5, 10, or 15 years?
Breast Implant Surgery
Breast augmentation is a very popular and well-known plastic surgery procedure that resizes, reshapes, and improves the appearance of your chest area and silhouette. Enhancing your body allows you to gain more confidence and self-assurance, making you feel better about yourself.
Like any other plastic surgery procedure, it can feel difficult and uncomfortable for the first few days and weeks during your healing process. This may make you anxious and frustrated, and we fully understand how this may affect your daily activities and mood. So, to help you loosen up and lessen your burden when thinking about your discomfort, we have some information about what you need to expect after your breast augmentation or breast implant surgery.
Breast Augmentation: What To Expect Post Surgery
After your breast augmentation, it would take time for your chest muscles, breast tissues, and skin to adjust to your saline or silicone implants. While waiting for these chest parts to heal, you can expect to feel tightness in the chest area, sometimes more intense than what you expected. This discomfort is typical, specifically if your implants are placed under the muscle.
Immediately after your surgery, the swelling that you feel may actually affect the amount of tightness around your breasts, amplifying your discomfort. You can expect engorgement, feeling of hotness or inflammation, and tenderness around the area about Normal postoperative swelling, which peaks about 3 to 5 days after surgery, will amplify feelings of chest pressure.
How long this would last: Your doctor may advise you that the intense pain you feel during the first few days following your surgery gradually reduces as time passes. Some patients report dissipation of tightness after a few months or so, while others still complain of on and off pressure around their chest area. Stiffness and pressure would come and go; there is no need to worry unless its intensity progresses and becomes a constant discomfort.
Breast Implant Pain
Breast augmentation may be cosmetic in nature, but it is still a major operation. The surgical site requires incisions and placement of stitches, making you care for wounds for a few weeks. Because nerve endings mend post-surgery, you can typically feel a sharp, sudden, and achy spasm in and around your breasts, mainly around the areolas.
Other bizarre yet usual feelings and discomfort during the first few weeks may comprise muscle cramps around the breast with on and off shooting upper back pain. This may usually come out when changing your sleeping position or sudden hunching of your shoulders to protect your breasts.
How long this would last: Irregular muscle spasms and shooting pain after breast augmentation may last for a few weeks to months. Allow your body to get used t the implant, especially your chest muscles, breast tissues, and skin. Nipple or areolar pain has a lasting on and off occurrence up to 6 months or so. As time passes, the sudden cramps or ache gradually becomes less frequent and intense, until you do not notice it anymore.
When to see your surgeon: After your surgery, your doctor should definitely prescribe pain medications and antibiotics for the prevention of infection. If your pain or discomfort is tolerable and happens during the first few weeks post-op, you do not need to contact your surgeon just yet. However, if your pain hinders you from performing daily activities, and you have a fever and intensifying pain and tenderness even after a few months from the operation, contact your doctor immediately as this may warrant the presence of complications like capsular contracture.
During your initial consultation, a reliable plastic surgeon should inform you that there is a possibility that after your breast augmentation surgery, you may develop breast asymmetry. Don’t fret! The truth is, there is a logical explanation of how and why this happens.
During the surgery, your doctor may place your breast implants under or over your chest muscles, and this position needs some time to get used to the foreign body (your implants). During the first few months, if you look closely, you may notice that one side of your breast may be lower or higher than the other, and this is still considered normal.
Reason for Breast Asymmetry
Your doctor may also use this as a reason why they have a preference for taking breast augmentation photos after 3 months. Aside from the wounds already healing and the scars almost invisible during this time, the positioning of the breast implants by this time is expected to be final and stable. You may also report less inflammation and tenderness around the area during this time.
There are patients who would report feeling that their breasts are symmetrical but look too high or too low than what they expected their surgical results to be. Again, this is typical, so you can stop wondering if your plastic surgeon made an error. If you were meticulous in choosing your breast augmentation surgeon, the chances of making a surgical mistake are slim —chances are the answer is no, and your breasts just need more time to heal. These are all normal occurrences after breast augmentation.
How long this would last: Again, your body needs time to adjust to your implants; post-op swelling can also contribute to asymmetry, as swelling might go down earlier in one breast than the other. Typically, the 3-month mark is when your breasts will be pretty close to their final shape and appearance, although scars will continue to fade for several more months.
When to call your surgeon: If, after 3 months, one or both breasts still look misshapen or asymmetrical, or one breast seems unnaturally hard to the touch, consult with your plastic surgeon—these symptoms indicate a possible capsular contracture. If you are still dissatisfied with your breast augmentation results 6 to 12 months after your procedure, you may need to look into breast augmentation revision.
More On Breast Implant Pain
We may have mentioned the reasons why you may feel breast implant pain a few weeks or months after your surgery. But what if you are one of those few who experience breast implant pain after 1 year following their surgery? Here are possible reasons why you experience this side effect long after your cosmetic surgery.
Breast Implant Pain: Capsular Contracture
This term may either be too familiar for you if you have researched and studied about breast augmentation, or too scientific if all you did was look at ideal breast sizes, shape, contour, and silhouette that you wish you have. But what is capsular contracture really about?
Capsular contracture happens when the scar tissue located inside the pocket where the breast implants are located starts to tighten around the saline of the silicone implant. The results appear to make your breasts look misshapen, hard, and tender.
Most women experience capsular contracture several months or years after their breast augmentation surgery. If you feel that your breast implants look deformed and your chest feels tight and hard with minimal to moderate pain and pressure, these signs and symptoms may signify capsular contracture. Consult your plastic surgeon right away.
Treatment for Capsular Contracture
Unfortunately, there is no other way for your breasts to repair themselves once you have capsular contracture other than undergoing surgery.
Your plastic surgeon may recommend surgical release of the scar around the breast implants. This is warranted if the saline or silicone implants still look sturdy and in good condition. However, there are patients whose silicone breast implants are already deformed or have deflated because of the pressure the cars provided over time. This makes it harder for your surgeon to salvage them, warranting implant removal and replacement.
Breast Implant Pain: BIA-ALCL
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma or (BIA-ACLC) is a rare cancer of the lymph nodes. Although doctors and plastic surgeons still feel puzzled as to how this type of lymphoma arises from breast implant surgery patients, they found out that those who develop this type of cancer are typically breast augmentation patients who have had their surgery years ago.
The occurrence of breast implant pain after 1 year due to BIA-ACLC does not pinpoint what type of implant used, what positioning (under or over the muscle), the size and volume of the breast implant used. However, those scientists looking closely over this matter found out that those patients who used textured breast implants have higher chances of developing BIA-ACLC. The rationale behind it comes from the fact that textured surfaces provide more room for bacteria to stick to and infect the body compared to smooth implants.
Diagnosis of BIA-ACLC
Although this type of cancer presents similar symptoms that can pinpoint breast implant infection, like bruising, redness, inflammation, and tenderness, your doctor may still suspect BIA-ACLC. This is especially if you have a family history of cancer, have autoimmune problems, or are exhibiting questionable symptoms like general weakness, cognitive issues, joint pain and weakness, and fever.
He may request aspiration of fluid around your breast implant for biopsy. He may also request blood tests for tumor markers, and removal of tumor for biopsy, if present. Once detected, a PET scan determines if the lymphoma spreads to other parts of the body.
Solutions for BIA-ACLC
Surgery. Your doctor needs to perform surgical removal of the implants and the affected breast tissues and lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy. For stage 2 or more advanced cancer, cycles of chemotherapy may be required to combat the spread of the cancer cells. This may slow or stop the progression.
Antibiotics. Some patients only require the removal of the implants and a potent dose of antibiotics to fight this condition.
We hope that we have helped to open your eyes not just to the benefits of breast augmentation, but also to the downsides of having this cosmetic surgery procedure. To minimize your risk for infection, implant rupture, and breast cancer illness, closely monitor your breasts after your procedure. Follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions closely. See your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your breasts or health, especially if you experience signs of infection.