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Possible complications of breast implant reconstruction

Breast reconstruction using implants has higher rates of long-term complications than tissue flap breast reconstructions. Complications have been reported to occur in as many as 40% of cases. Of all women who have breast implants inserted (for breast reconstruction or to increase breast size), about one-third need additional surgery to manage complications.

Change to the feel and shape of the implant

Some women develop scar tissue around the implant, which can cause the implant to become hard and change shape. This is called capsular contracture. In this rare situation, surgery may be needed to remove and replace the implant, although replacement is not always successful.

Leaking implant

It is possible that a breast implant could leak in the future. The outside cover of the implant can become weaker over time and sometimes a hole can develop. If the implant contains saline, the leak will be noticeable straight away because the implant will deflate. If the implant contains silicone, the leak may be less noticeable. A lump may form where silicone has leaked out which may or may not be uncomfortable. The gel used in cohesive gel silicone implants is designed to minimise or prevent leaks when ruptured, so is less likely to be noticeable or cause problems.

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