The Pros and Cons of Breast Augmentation for Women with Autoimmune Diseases
It is no secret that breast augmentation is one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery in America. More than 300,000 women undergo this procedure each year to increase their bust size and improve self-esteem. But what if you have an autoimmune disease like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis? Do you still qualify for breast augmentation surgery? Does it put your health at risk? Read on to find out more on breast augmentation for women with autoimmune diseases.
Pros of Breast Augmentation
- Boosts Self-Esteem and Body Image
One of the reasons why many women go for breast augmentation is to boost their self-esteem and body image. In a study entitled, Breast Augmentation in Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, it was found that most lupus patients who underwent this procedure within six months from diagnosis experienced “dramatic improvements” in their quality of life.
- An Excellent Option for Women with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Breast augmentation is a safe procedure for women with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. According to Dr. Michael Reed, associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of California-Davis, it’s even safer than breast reduction since there are no skin flaps — which can tear and cause possibly deadly infections — and there’s no muscle dissection.
- Science-Backed Data
A study performed by Dr. Reed showed that women with autoimmune diseases who underwent breast augmentation had fewer postoperative complications compared to other patients. Moreover, it did not trigger any flare-ups of their autoimmune diseases. Other studies also found that there was no significant difference in the disease activity before and after surgery in women with scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Prevents Deterioration of the Breast Tissue
Aside from improving self-esteem and body image, breast augmentation can also help maintain the shape and size of a woman’s busts even if her weight fluctuates. This is because it prevents deterioration of the breast tissue (most especially in women with lupus). The breasts of a woman with lupus can become smaller and flatter due to the chronic inflammation in her body.
- Natural-Looking Results
Breast implants can be made of saline or silicone. The former is a sterile saltwater solution that’s placed inside a thin sheath and inserted into the breast through a small incision. Since it doesn’t have any effect on the body after surgery, it is considered safe for women with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The latter is a silicone envelope filled with solid silicone gel or saline solution inserted into the breast through a small incision to achieve the desired size, shape, and contour. This type of implant is usually used by breastfeeding women because it looks more natural than saline implants. However, they can also cause autoimmune responses in some women.
- Allows for Breast-Feeding
Women with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can undergo breast augmentation even if they plan on breastfeeding in the future. This is because the implants don’t interfere with milk production or cause blocked milk ducts. In fact, most women who have undergone this procedure could still breastfeed their babies successfully after surgery.
- Provides Immediate Results
This is one of the reasons why many women want to undergo breast augmentation — results can be seen immediately! All it takes is a few minor incisions and an hour or two for the operation. The breasts will look fuller instantly, giving the woman more confidence about her appearance.
Cons of Breast Augmentation
- Possible Complications with Implants
Although rare, there is a chance that an autoimmune response may occur following breast augmentation. This can result in silicone implant deterioration, which ultimately leads to the formation of scar tissue, cysts, and capsular contracture — all of these conditions are potentially life-threatening.
- Recovery Period
Breast augmentation doesn’t pose any serious risk to women with autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. However, it does come with a lengthy recovery time: usually around four weeks. This means that the woman will have to take time off from work and carry out basic daily activities while she heals. She may even have to take time off from her usual workout routines.
- Unsatisfactory Results
Not all women who undergo breast augmentation are satisfied with the results, even with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. According to Dr. Reed, this is because an implant might not provide the look or size a woman wants. In this case, she may need to undergo another round of breast augmentation or other cosmetic procedures like liposuction (to reshape the body) and facelift (for facial rejuvenation).
- It Doesn’t Improve Energy Levels
Breast augmentation doesn’t improve energy levels and other symptoms (and/or side effects) of autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. This means that the woman may continue to feel tired, fatigued, and rundown even after surgery. In fact, she may still need to take regular breaks from her usual activities to re-energize.
As with any surgery, a woman who has lupus and plans on getting a breast augmentation procedure may have to deal with scars that will be left behind. In this case, the incisions are usually made along or near the breast’s crease and around the nipple area. They will fade away about six months after surgery but can still be seen by others, especially if you wear tight-fitting clothes.
Breast augmentation can be an effective way for women with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis to boost their self-esteem and improve their overall quality of life. However, it should be performed by a professional plastic surgeon who specializes in this type of procedure. If you plan on undergoing surgery, for this reason, make sure to discuss your options with your doctor as well as request related medical records such as the details mentioned above. This is because surgery may worsen symptoms if you have a history of autoimmune disorder.