What Can Go Wrong With Breast Augmentation?

Breast Augmentation Complications


Bleeding can occur after any surgery. In the case of breast augmentations, it occurs very infrequently, in only about 2–3% of patients. It is never a life-threatening problem, but it does have consequences. It is usually not subtle. One breast will rather suddenly become much larger than the other. Sometimes, this even occurs in a matter of half an hour or so. Occasionally, a woman will notice it upon awakening in the morning. The affected breast will become painful and tense.

I have never seen the incision break open or blood to come through it. At some point, the pressure within the pocket will become so great that it will slow or stop the bleeding. Surgery is required to correct the problem. The incision is easily opened, the implant removed, and the blood suctioned out. Usually, a single vessel is found to be the culprit and is easily cauterized. The pocket is irrigated with saline, the implant returned, and the incision closed again. In all, the procedure takes about twenty minutes. The affected breast will be more swollen for a while, but fairly soon, it will look like the other one. There is a slightly higher chance that a capsular contracture will develop on the side that bled.

Take it easy to avoid complications

I ask my patients to take life easy for three weeks and not to exercise at all for at least two weeks after the surgery. After that, I allow walks and light weight-lifting for the lower body. Most patients start more vigorous exercise at three weeks. High impact and upper body activities including tennis, swimming, surfing, golfing, jogging, and horseback riding must wait for at least six weeks, sometimes longer if indicated.

Mondor’s Cords:

Mondor's cordsMondor’s Cords, sometimes called Mondor’s disease, is a benign condition that can occur two to four weeks following breast augmentation. Tender vertical cords develop beneath the breast from the inframammary fold downward. They are veins (thoracoepigastric veins, to be precise) that have become thrombosed (clotted) and inflamed. They are not an infection.

Treatment is supportive with warm (but not hot) soaks directly to the cords with aspirin or ibuprofen as needed. The cords will disappear on their own within a few months. They were named after Henri Mondor (1885–1992), a famous French surgeon who originally described them.

Other complications from breast augmentation may include:

  • Dissatisfaction with size
  • Sensory changes
  • Deflation
  • Rippling
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Mondor’s Cords
  • Implant too high
  • Implant too low (bottoming out)
  • Implants too far apart
  • Implants too close together (Synmastia)
  • Asymmetry
  • Double bubble
  • Calcification around the implants
  • Unsatisfactory scars

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