Will Breast Implants Work for Cancer Survivors?
By Jane Davis
For those who feel as if cancer has stolen too much of their lives and bodies, breast augmentation can assist in the recovery process. Since their invention in 1962, silicone and saline breast implants have become the 杜ost studied device in medical history” according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. While there have always been concerns about potential damage from these foreign objects affecting connecting tissues or even increasing cancer risks, studies seem to prove that they are safe for even cancer survivors.
After an extensive long-term study of more than 13,500 women who had breast augmentation during 1962989, it has been concluded that there is no increased risk for women who choose breast enhancement. In 2006, the FDA-imposed ban on silicone gel implants was lifted, and today more than $820 million a year is spent on cosmetic and restorative breast surgery.
Earlier this year, the FDA once more expressed some concern about a possible link between breast implants and a very rare form of lymphoma, anaplastic large cell lymphoma. However, the actual number of cases is too small to be statistically significant. Women actually have a better chance of being hit by lightning than contracting this cancer from a breast implant.
For women who have struggled through breast cancer, choosing augmentation and reconstructive surgery with breast implants is a way to regain self-esteem and a feeling of normalcy. While the implants never feel exactly like the original breast tissue, they can restore a more natural silhouette and avoid the use of awkward exterior prosthetic. Feeling attractive again is important to emotional recovery from the loss of one or both breasts. Breast implant recovery is usually uneventful.
Either at the time of the mastectomy or at a later date, a plastic surgeon will stretch or expand the remaining breast skin by inserting a balloon-like device and gradually increasing the volume of saline in it. The process may take up to six months. After all chemotherapy and radiation treatments are completed, the doctor will either seal off the expander as an implant or replace it with a silicone or saline unit. There is a slightly increased risk of the surrounding scar tissue becoming hardened for women who have had radiation. Massage and exercise can reduce this tendency.
Other risks include poor wound healing, slow breast implant recovery, deflation through leakage or rupture, protrusion through the skin, future corrective surgery, infection and bleeding. Side effects may include tiredness and pain that is manageable with OTC medications. Permanent scarring will fade over time. Normal activities may be resumed after six weeks although some women report taking much longer to feel fully healed. For the majority of cancer-surviving women, breast augmentation is a way of taking back control of their bodies, a decision that proves that life can go on and life can be beautiful once more.