Monday, July 19, 2010

Understanding the Long Term Impacts of Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation, along with liposuction, is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures today. But while many women are flocking to plastic surgeons to have implants put in, few consider the long term impacts – both in terms of their health and their pocketbook. A recent study by implant manufacturer Allergen found that about one in three women return to the doctor for a follow-up operation within four years of receiving a breast augmentation. This, however, comes as no surprise to most plastic surgery patients who have undergone the proper consultation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted long ago that the majority of patients will need to have their implants removed or replaced either due to a rupture or other complications.

For the consumer, these concerns have touched off much consternation over which breast implants have the highest safety record and the most longevity. Lingering cautionary tales warn that certain breast implant types may require “surgical tune-ups,” which would mean increased medical risk and out-of-pocket expenses for life.

But much of this scrutiny and self-guided research is misplaced. Many breast implants carry lifetime warranties that cover the cost of the implant itself if it ruptures. The operating room expenses and the surgeon’s fees, however, are not covered. This is because the techniques and skill level wielded by the surgeon are far more variable and critical than the type of implant that is used. Choosing which implant and breast augmentation surgery will be best for a patient’s specific goals is a conditional judgment call which draws upon the expertise and experience of the doctor. Because of this, it is best for patients to engage in thorough consultations with a board certified plastic surgeon.

Recognizing this importance, many doctors, such as Dr. Miguel Delgado, a Marin breast augmentation specialist, offer free consultations for prospective breast implant patients. Dr. Delgado’s consultation includes a detailed discussion of the long-term impacts as well as computer imaging which allows patients to visualize their surgical plan. Extended consultations are the key to ensuring that patients have realistic pre- and post-surgery expectations.

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