Last month, we talked about breast health basics. This month, we will continue the discussion by diving into more detail for those of us who have amplified our assets - and that includes a lot of us. According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 290,467 breast augmentations were performed in 2016, a 4% increase from the previous year.
If you have had breast implant surgery, start with these basics. But there are a few extra things to consider.
Know your breasts (and your implants)
and do not hesitate to get any changes checked out by a medical professional. And although sometimes useful, no, “Dr. Google” does not count. Crowdsourcing sites like RealSelf are invaluable in terms of discovering personal stories and surrounding yourself with a supportive community, but there is a reason why many of the doctor answers online end with a caveat: check with your own surgeon, as he/she knows your particular situation the best. So please do keep in touch with your plastic surgeon - we love seeing our patients return for “long-term” follow ups. If you have moved since your surgery, it is easy to find another board-certified plastic surgeon who can help if you need anything.
Hang on to the paperwork you receive after your procedure, including your implant card. This card records critical information about your new girls - like the manufacturer, the type of implant, size, profile, and the unique serial number for each implant. Much of this information is also recorded by the implant manufacturer (the major FDA-approved ones used in the U.S. today are Allergan and Mentor, with a smaller presence from Sientra and Ideal Implant), but since companies can - and do - change hands or even go out of business, be sure to store your implant card in a safe place. The information recorded on your card can help you - and your surgeon - plan more efficiently and effectively, should you require another procedure in the future to maintain your breast/implant health.
are still recommended for women who have had implant surgery, at the appropriate age for cancer screening. A general rule of thumb is to wait at least six months after surgery to schedule your first “new” baseline screening mammogram. This waiting period allows your breast tissue to recover and be adequately imaged. When you schedule your appointment, make sure to let the center know that you have implants (they won’t - or at least they shouldn’t - judge). This allows you to have a technician experienced with imaging augmented breasts (1), who can get the best shots of your tissue for the radiologist to evaluate.
In addition, for those of us with silicone gel implants, the current FDA recommendation is to schedule a screening MRI three years after surgery, then every two years to follow. Because of the way the silicone gel is structured, it can be difficult to detect leaks in the implant shell with physical examination (2), mammography, or even ultrasound. Even MRI studies, however, can have flaws in accurately diagnosing “silent” implant ruptures, and sometimes another surgery may be required to confirm whether the silicone gel implant is ruptured or intact (3).
Perhaps the most important advice, now that we’ve got the basics and beyond covered?
Many of my breast augmentation patients ask if it’s safe for them to return to the gym, take a flight, go skydiving, scuba dive, ride horses, drive racecars, get back into CrossFit, run an obstacle race… The answer is yes, you can do absolutely anything you want - once you’re healed after surgery. Always check with your surgeon, of course - plastic surgeons often have different preferences for when you are ready to be released to full activity.
- Eklund GW, Busby RC, Miller SH, Job JS. Improved imaging of the augmented breast. AJR 1988; 151:469–473
- Hölmich LR, et al. The diagnosis of silicone breast-implant rupture: clinical findings compared with findings at magnetic resonance imaging. Annals of Plastic Surgery June 2005; 54(6): 583-589
- Cher DJ, Conwell JA, Mandel JS. MRI for Detecting Silicone Breast Implant Rupture: Meta-analysis and Implications. Annals of Plastic Surgery October 2001; 47(4): 367-380
By Dr. Angeline Lim of Duet Plastic Surgery - Expert Plastic Surgeons
Angeline Lim, M.D. and Jennifer Weintraub, M.D. are the board-certified plastic surgeons of Duet Plastic Surgery, a boutique-style practice in Palo Alto, California. When not helping her patients navigate through their health and beauty journeys, Dr. Lim may be found traveling by plane, train, and automobile.