All the answers to the questions that you may ask yourself.
Is the fitting of breast implants painful?
When the device is inserted between the mammary gland and the pectoral muscle, there is very little post-operative pain with simply a feeling of tightness in the breasts for a few days. When the device is fitted behind the pectoral muscle, there is generally more post-operative pain and patients may need to take painkillers for a few days. The degree of pain is also directly related to individual factors such as, amongst others, the relationship between the volume of the chosen implant and the elasticity of the skin.
Will my partner be able to feel my implants?
An implant, even when perfectly tolerated, may be distinguishable, visible or detectable as a whole; it may be possible to feel its outer edges. The ability to distinguish a device will vary depending on its position, its content and the thickness of the mammary gland and the tissues. Generally, it is less visible when implanted behind the muscle. In reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, the implant is always palpable irrespective of its location due to the absence of the mammary gland.
Is breast-feeding possible with breast implants?
As a general rule, there is no contraindication against breast-feeding after implantation, irrespective of the type of implant; however, it may be compromised in the event that the milk ducts are cut during surgery. A breast abscess, which is more common during breast-feeding, may make it necessary to remove the implant. Furthermore, no scientific study has proved a cause and effect relationship between breast-feeding and implants pre-filled with silicone gel. There is no method for detecting the amount of silicone in breast milk. One study carried out by Semple et al using silicium (which occurs very commonly in nature and from which silicone is derived) as a unit of measure, found that the amount found in the breast milk of women with implants was identical to the quantity found in that of women without implants.
What is the average cost of the operation?
In France, it varies depending on various elements:
- The type of device used
- The place where the operation is performed: clinic or hospital
- The length of stay in hospital
- The surgeon's and anaesthetist's fees.
Do breast implants have to be replaced? If so, after how long?
A breast implant is never fitted on a definitive basis; like any biomaterial, it ages, becomes worn out and its lifespan is not known for certain. It depends on the activities of the individual and also on the reaction of the body to the implant.
Due to the ageing of the implant, personal factors and/or local complications, patients fitted with an implant should expect to have to undergo other operations during their lives. Patients will maintain the benefits of the implant, unless ultrasound scan, MRI or other examinations reveal deterioration of the implant as a whole.
However, the surgeon is responsible for ultimately determining whether or not an implant has to be replaced.
What are the possible complications related to an operation?
As with any surgical operation, post-operative pain may occur. It is essential for the operation to be preceded by an anaesthesia consultation; a pre-operative check-up and a mammography will be performed.
What should patients look out for after having a breast implant fitted?
After having a breast implant fitted and, more generally as for all women, irrespective of the type of device fitted, an annual check-up is strongly recommended for preventive purposes. Regular medical, clinical and X-ray examinations (ultrasound scan, MRI) must be performed. To limit the risk of rupture, breast compression must never be excessive; the patient should systematically inform radiologists or examining physicians about the presence of implants and the practitioner will remain the sole judge of the technique to be used.
As for all women, self-examination of the breasts should be carried out each month, preferably after the monthly period.
You should also inform your regular gynaecologist about the presence of breast implants.
After a breast reconstruction, in addition to the usual cancer screenings, we advise you to consult your surgeon on a regular basis.
Your surgeon should give you your patient card containing all of the information related to your implants. You should keep this card on you at all times.
How do I choose a surgeon?
Fitting of breast implants should be carried out by a skilled surgeon registered with the French National Council of the Order of Surgeons. A plastic surgeon is a surgeon qualified in plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
In France, there are two associations that are references in the profession: the French Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery (SOFCPRE) and the French Society of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons (SOFCEP).
You should not hesitate to consult several different surgeons because a relation of trust is essential between the patient and her surgeon.
What questions is the surgeon likely to ask me to assess the risks inherent in this type of operation?
- Are you taking any medication?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you allergic or sensitive to any foodstuffs, medicines, dressings, rubber, etc?
- Have you ever developed any scars that are red, puffy or wide?
- Do you have a tendency (you or any of your ascendants/descendants) to develop nose bleeds or prolonged bleeding after a wound or bruises without an injury?
- Are you (or any of your ascendants/descendants) subject to any haematological or auto-immune diseases (for example Lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis or vasculitis)?
- Do you frequently suffer from joint swelling or pain?
- When you are exposed to cold, do you suffer from severe pain in the hands and/or do your hands become white with the cold?
- Do you suffer from stiffness in your hands, feet or knees in the morning?
- Have you had frequent strong sensations of tension in your skin, face, arms or legs?
- Is there any possibility you could be pregnant?
- Have you ever suffered or do you currently suffer from any other illness (for example, neurological or psychiatric disorder, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, etc.)?