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Posted Tue 12 September 2017

Cosmetic surgery: that’s just another lifestyle choice, like a new kitchen, a long haul holiday or the latest SUV, isn’t it? You may have glanced at the adverts in the back of gossip magazines and seen lists of clinics offering breast enhancement alongside aspirational furniture, home improvements and clothing. After all, once you’ve done up your house, why wouldn’t you want to consider a makeover as well? Equally, a breast augmentation may be something that you have thought of since your youth. Simple, no? Well actually no, a big fat NO!

The same magazines that contain the surgery advertisements are starting to include articles with titles like: What you need to know before booking your surgery. So while promoting cosmetic surgery, they also advise caution. Given this mixed message, what do you need to know? Here are a few of the more important things to consider.

Did you know that after breast augmentation surgery you may develop an infection that, in a worst case scenario, requires implants to be removed at extra cost to you? Even if healing goes to plan, implants may ripple or move.

You may have heard of capsular contracture. If you look this up, you’ll see quoted a complication rate of 15% - 45%. That’s when scar tissue develops around the implant causing the breast to feel hard. If severe, this requires the implants to be removed.

Implants may leak or rupture. Here a rate of 15% is given for implants up to 10 years old. The older the implant, the more likely the rupture.

ALCL, a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes, is currently estimated to occur in 1:500 000 patients with breast implants.

Even if your surgery goes text book perfectly, breast augmentation using implants will require you to have medical surveillance and further surgery in your lifetime. You should budget for this.

OK, so you’ve read all this, but to be honest life is full of risks isn’t it? I mean, would you dare cross the road if you read a pedestrian risk assessment? Well yes, but just so you go in with your eyes open.

Any surgeon worth their salt will spell out the risks for each patient based on their individual profile, because risks there are. If you decide to go ahead, minimise your risks by choosing your surgeon carefully and asking hard questions about what you personally can expect. Drill down as to surgical experience, complication rates and any factors in your profile that may make risks more likely. Ask about follow up and continued surveillance. This is your body at stake, not your house or car. You only have one so treat it carefully.

Patience Wellbeing, Plastic Surgery Blogger