The human body's immune response to a surgically installed foreign object—breast implant, cardiac pacemaker, orthopedic prosthesis—is to encapsulate it with scar tissue capsules of tightly woven collagen fibers, in order to maintain the integrity of the body by isolating the foreign object, and so tolerate its presence. Capsular contracture—which should be distinguished from normal capsular tissue—occurs when the collagen-fiber capsule thickens and compresses the breast implant; it is a painful complication that might distort either the breast implant, or the breast, or both.
When the patient is unsatisfied with the outcome of the augmentation mammoplasty; or when technical or medical complications occur; or because of the breast implants’ limited product life, it is likely she might require replacing the breast implants. Common revision surgery indications include major and minor medical complications, capsular contracture, shell rupture, and device deflation. Revision incidence rates were greater for breast reconstruction patients, because of the post-mastectomy changes to the soft-tissues and to the skin envelope of the breast, and to the anatomical borders of the breast, especially in women who received adjuvant external radiation therapy. Moreover, besides breast reconstruction, breast cancer patients usually undergo revision surgery of the nipple-areola complex (NAC), and symmetry procedures upon the opposite breast, to create a bust of natural appearance, size, form, and feel. Carefully matching the type and size of the breast implants to the patient's pectoral soft-tissue characteristics reduces the incidence of revision surgery. Appropriate tissue matching, implant selection, and proper implantation technique, the re-operation rate was 3 percent at the 7-year-mark, compared with the re-operation rate of 20 per cent at the 3-year-mark, as reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If you’re hoping your breast implants will be covered by insurance because of something like asymmetry or changes after pregnancy, you probably need to explore other financing options. Breast implants are considered cosmetic surgery, so insurance companies typically won’t cover them. However, “Breast Implants are covered if they are being used as part of reconstruction after breast cancer or mastectomy,” says Houston plastic surgeon Dr. C. Bob Basu in a RealSelf Q&A.
After reviewing the medical data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that TDA-induced breast cancer was an infinitesimal health-risk to women with breast implants, and did not justify legally requiring physicians to explain the matter to their patients. In the event, polyurethane-coated breast implants remain in plastic surgery practice in Europe and in South America; and no manufacturer has sought FDA approval for medical sales of such breast implants in the U.S.