An integral aspect of the cosmetic breast surgery journey which is often overlooked by patients during their initial research phase is post-operative care. Patients focus heavily on aesthetic outcomes, expertise, and other important factors, often forgetting that post-operative care is a pivotal aspect of a positive experience. Post-operative care is important for a number of reasons:
Firstly, complications can always occur. Regardless of how experienced your surgeon may be, or how many measures you take to prevent complications, they can still occur. Some complications such as capsular contracture, are oftentimes out of the control of both surgeon and patient, and can happen at any point following surgery. Having the proper support and services in place to address such issues when they arise is undeniably important.
Secondly, many complications may go undetected, such as rupture. While this complication may not be debilitating or a health risk, it is important to identify if rupture is present through ultrasound, to ensure the longevity of your results and flag the possible need for re-operation.
Thirdly, there are some more rare and serious consequences that have evidenced themselves in recent years with regard to textured breast implants. We have discussed the issue of breast implant-associated ALCL in a previous blog post, and stress the importance of early detection to ensure your safety. This is a particularly serious reason that post-operative care should not be taken lightly. While the risk of BIA-ALCL is as low as 1 in 40,000, it is so important to remain vigilant and aware of any symptoms, and even more importantly, stay on top of your routine check-ups.
Some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a surgeon, are:
- Does this surgeon offer long-term care?
- Do they recommend routine ultrasounds post-operatively?
- What measures do they have in place to ensure my long-term safety?
Ask your surgeon whether they offer a complimentary lifetime follow-up plan. This is a measure that some surgeons such as Dr. Philip Richardson from Brisbane Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery are taking in conjunction with BRAS Clinic to ensure a gold standard of care and a prioritising of patient safety. A lifetime follow-up plan should include two-yearly or yearly check-ups which involve providing referrals for an ultrasound of the breasts, a physical examination at the clinic, and a review summary including relevant recommendations.
These review appointments will provide you with peace of mind knowing that your breast implants are intact with no evidence of rupture, capsular contracture, fluid accumulation, or any other complications that can occur during the post-operative period. The alternative is to have undetected complications that may cause more serious consequences in the future.
It’s also important outside of your regular review appointments to be aware of possible symptoms to look out for. Dr. Richardson outlines a number of symptoms that should be flagged with your operating surgeon or an onsite nurse in the event that they do occur:
- Unusual and significant pain after the first year
- New onset/sudden swelling of one or both breasts
- Redness in one or both breasts / feeling feverish
- Issues with the incision site/scar healing
- Hardening of one or both breasts, causing discomfort of visible distortion
- Visible and notable changes in the shape or appearance of breasts
If you experience any of the above, or any other symptoms that are of concern to you, we encourage you to make an appointment at BRAS clinic to have a routine check-up. BRAS Clinic provides post-operative review services to women with breast implants at no out-of-pocket expense, and with no obligations.
The premise of the clinic is to help women who have had cosmetic breast surgery stay on top of their breast health, and ensure their safety in the long term by providing accessible services. If you feel you are due for your breast implant check, contact us today.