Hard implants, breasts that are too far apart, uni-boob-we’ve all heard the horror stories or seen the results of botched breast enhancement surgeries. Why does this happen? New York City plastic surgeon, Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, whose practice is made up of about 30 percent of patients who need breast surgery revisions, explains what commonly goes wrong.
When it comes to fixing breast surgeries, Dr. Pfeifer says most often there are issues with the fold under the breast, no separation between the two implant pockets, disruption of the pectoralis muscle from the sternum and implants placed too far under the arm.
“I also see a lot of patients with overly large implants who had augmentation alone when they actually needed a breast lift with a smaller implant,” Dr. Pfeifer says. “And I see poorly placed scars, or scars that did not heal well.”
A lift along with a smaller implant may be needed in many cases, even though the patient will have an additional scar. “These scars heal very well,” she says. “It is up to the surgeon to use his or her ethical judgment and not perform augmentation alone when the patient also needs a lift. If the patient refuses the lift, in my opinion, the surgery should not be performed.”
The surgeon’s technique may be to blame for issues involving the pectoralis muscle, inframammary fold and placement issues. “Displacement of the implant can be avoided with precise pocket dissection during initial surgery,” Dr. Pfeifer explains. And leaking and/or deflation can be unavoidable, so scrupulous care is needed on the physician’s behalf, she says.
“One of the most frustrating things for everyone involved is that even after an excellent surgery, perfect is not possible,” she says. “Once we are trying to correct a problem, often the result can never be as good as it would have been if done correctly the first time.”
When seeking a physician to address issues with breast implants, Dr. Pfeifer says, “I believe the patient should seek someone out whose practice is mostly composed of breast surgery and who performs revisional surgery on a regular basis. Not all plastic surgeons are interested in or have the patience for revisional surgery. The patient is already frustrated and has spent a lot of money; and the surgery itself can be technically difficult as well as time-consuming.”
Checking to ensure that a physician is board certified in plastic surgery should be at the top of the list when considering any sort of aesthetic surgery to avoid the need for revision later on.
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