The decision to have cosmetic surgery is very unique because it is one of the few medical situations where you, the patient, are completely in charge. The first step in this decision is getting in touch with your own feelings.
- What is behind your wish to change the look of your breasts?
- Have you always wished to be a larger size? Do you want to regain your pre-pregnancy body?
- Are you going through a relationship change?
- Are you otherwise happy with your self and your body image?
Honestly answering these questions will help you figure out if breast augmentation is a good decision for you. Women who are the happiest with their surgery are those who are overall in good physical and emotional health who really just want a larger breast size to feel comfortable with their bodies and appearance. It is a bad idea to have cosmetic surgery to please someone else, or to try to fix some other problem in your life. Studies show us that buying things, including breast implants, does not impact our overall level of happiness in the long term. For great suggestions on scientifically proven ways to actually be happier overall- I recommend “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky.
So- you are otherwise healthy and happy and just want to rock your bikini this summer- then read on!
Are there risks to breast implants?
Like anything else, the answer is yes. There are the standard risks of surgery such as bleeding, infection, anesthesia, etc. I also tell people to consider carefully that implants are not lifetime devices. You should plan on having a procedure to exchange your implants approximately every 10-15 years and surgery to correct implants is not covered by health insurance.
Are there other hidden risks?
I have had a lot of inquiries lately about Breast Implant Illness. The symptoms include fatigue, muscle or joint pain, dry skin, forgetfulness, and hot flashes. These unfortunately are all pretty common symptoms that are experienced by many women both with and without implants. Breast implants are one of the most studied medical devices there are, and large scientific studies in multiple countries have proven them to be very safe. In fact, many female plastic surgeons have implants themselves!
There is one very rare type of lymphoma called BIA-ALCL that we have just recently found is linked to breast implants. It is a very slow growing cancer and almost all cases can be cured by removing the implants and their capsule. It is so far associated with textured implants, not with smooth implants, but even if you have textured implants- don’t worry! Your risk of getting this rare cancer is around the same as your risk of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime. Plastic surgeons were instrumental in discovering this rare disease and we have all participated in reporting any known cases to help diagnose and prevent future problems. The main sign of BIA-ALCL is swelling that arises later on after being healed from the original surgery. If you have any swelling, firmness or changes in your implants you should get them checked. I recommend coming in for a checkup once a year for my patients who have implants (yes people- it’s probably time to schedule that checkup!). That being said, I feel totally comfortable recommending implants to patients who understand the risks and the need to follow up with a plastic surgeon and replace their implants as needed. For most people, the benefits of implants far outweigh these risks.
The final piece of advice...
If you have made it this far, you are probably seriously interested in a breast augmentation. The final piece of advice I have is to consider how often your breast size bothers you. If it is only a fleeting thought ever so often, then surgery is probably not for you and you can just splurge on a great bra. But, if you find yourself feeling disappointed with how you look on a regular basis, then surgery is a reasonable option to put those thoughts behind you by seeing the body you want when you look in the mirror. Whichever decision you make, be happy with it and be happy with you!