Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility25 Breast Implant Problems You Must Know About in 2024

25 Breast Implant Problems You Must Know About in 2024


    Breast implants can enhance your appearance and self-confidence. But like any medical procedure, breast augmentation also carries potential risks and complications. Many women with breast implants live happily without issues. However, implants don’t last forever — the longer you have them, the more likely a problem could arise.

    Knowing the warning signs empowers you to seek diagnosis and treatment if needed. Let’s explore 25 common breast implant problems to watch for and steps to take if you notice any changes.

    Sign 1: Breast Pain

    Sharp or severe breast pain deserves a checkup. Don’t delay this, especially if it arises out of nowhere and seems localized around the implant.

    Causes can include [1]:

    • Trauma to the breast

    • A pocket of fluid (seroma)

    • Capsular contracture

    • Implant rupture

    Duller aches or tenderness are usually normal as you heal from surgery [2]. But if breast pain persists over 2-3 weeks after the procedure, you’ll want to have your surgeon take a closer look. Implant-related breast pain tends to get worse rather than improve over time without treatment.

    Sign 2: Change in Breast Shape or Size

    It’s normal for implants to settle into position over the first few months after surgery. But pronounced shape changes or size fluctuations later on could signal a problem.

    One breast increasing in size compared to the other or bottoming out of the implant may reflect [3]:

    • Rupture

    • Leakage

    • Capsular contracture

    • Other issues

    Track your breast outlines monthly to aid early detection of asymmetrical changes.

    Sign 3: Swelling

    Some postoperative swelling is expected.

    But swelling confined to one breast or persisting longer than a few weeks could hint at complications like [4]:

    • Seroma (fluid buildup around the implant)

    • Edema (fluid retention in the tissues)

    • Infection

    Have your doctor check on prolonged or unilateral swelling promptly.

    Sign 4: Redness

    Noticeable redness confined to the breast or incision site warrants medical review to rule out infection. If you feel any pain or swelling, it’s even more important to get this looked at sooner rather than later.

    Some pinkness along the scarring is normal. But redness emerging after surgery or spreading beyond the immediate incision area isn’t.

    You may have an allergic reaction to implant materials if you’re experiencing:

    • Recurrent redness

    • Rash

    • Hives

    Sign 5: Breast Hardening

    It's normal for breasts to feel firm right after getting implants. This happens because of swelling and injury from the surgery. But if implants stay very hard, tight, or don't move well, it could signal capsular contracture [5]. This is especially concerning if you’re noticing it in only one breast.

    Scar tissue contracting around the implant causes firmness and potential distortion. Mild cases cause minimal discomfort but advanced contracture ispainful. Don’t ignore hardening breasts.

    Sign 6: Capsular Contracture

    Scar tissue forms around breast implants but sometimes tightens, making the breast feel abnormally firm and misshapen. Mild cases may cause negligible or moderate pain. Advanced contracture feels very tight and painful as tissue squeezes the implant [6].

    Other hallmarks of capsular contracture include:

    • Change in breast shape

    • Hardness

    • Pain

    • Asymmetry

    Getting an early-stage diagnosis may allow nonsurgical treatment. Advanced contracture, however, usually requires corrective surgery.

    Sign 7: Nipple Sensation Changes

    Breast implants can impact nerve function, potentially altering nipple sensitivity. Some nipple numbness after surgery often resolves within weeks but in some cases may take up to a year.  In rare cases sensation never returns. [7].

    See your doctor if you’re experiencing:

    • Persistent numbness

    • Hypersensitivity

    • Burning

    • Tingling

    • Pain

    • Loss of sensation in the nipple-areola complex

    Note: It’s rare for women to experience a permanent loss of sensation if they choose a board-certified, experienced surgeon for the procedure.

    Sign 8: Breast Implant Deflation or Rupture

    Implants aren’t lifetime devices. Their outer shell can weaken and leak over time, causing deflation and collapse. Capsular contraction may reduce the longevity of implants by causing the implant shell to fold.

    Signs of breast implant deflation or rupture include:

    • Asymmetry

    • Pain or swelling

    • Softening of the breast

    • Implant folds or creases visible under the skin

    If a saline implant ruptures all the salt water will leak out making the breast smaller. If a silicone implant ruptures you may not see any visible changes until later.

    Mild implant leaking doesn’t always have obvious symptoms. Regular MRIs help detect silent ruptures before complications ensue [8].

    Sign 9: Skin Rashes

    Skin rashes can happen if you’re allergic to tape, adhesive, cleaning solutions, and medications used during surgery. Things like sutures may trigger an allergic reaction. Rashes, hives, eczema, and blisters on the breasts or body need to be checked. Your surgeon will identify the cause and devise a plan to remove the triggers.

    Sign 10: Unusual Lumps

    Lumps warrant medical assessment, though not all are worrisome. Immobile, hard spots could be scar tissue contracture [9]. Soft, movable lumps may be temporary fluid pockets [10]. But any new lump — firm or soft, mobile or fixed — needs evaluation to rule out concerning growths. Lumps aren’t automatically linked to implants but it’s smart to examine any breast masses as soon as possible.

    Sign 11: Fatigue or Tiredness

    Feeling extremely tired after getting implants is common during normal recovery. But if fatigue doesn't go away or seems excessive, it might point to an underlying problem like breast implant illness [11]. Have your implants checked and possibly removed if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue or brain fog.

    Sign 12: Joint and Muscle Pain

    Some patients develop severe joint pain and muscle aches after getting implants. Medical experts think this might relate to unusual autoimmune reactions to silicone leakage [12].

    In rare cases, these are symptoms associated with breast implants:

    • Rheumatoid-like symptoms

    • Unexplained limb pain, swelling, stiffness, soreness, and weakness

    Thorough implant assessment and removal help resolve associated musculoskeletal misery.

    Sign 13: Fever

    Postoperative fever within the first 48 hours after surgery often reflects normal healing [13]. But fever emerging later, recurring, or persisting could be a sign of an infection or inflammatory reaction to the implants [14]. Noticeable fever always deserves prompt investigation for any treatable underlying causes.

    Sign 14: Difficulty Breathing

    Shortness of breath or problems getting air requires urgent medical care. This is especially important if you also have chest pain. In rare cases, fluid around implants can press on the lungs, making it hard to breathe [15]. Blood clots from surgery can also cause breathing issues.

    Sign 15: Fluid Collection Around the Implant (Seroma)

    Some fluid around implants resolves naturally. However, a significant seroma causes breast enlargement, pain, and prolonged drainage from incisions. This excessive fluid accumulation might also impede proper implant positioning and healing. Symptomatic seromas may need aspiration for removal [16]. Catch them early before infection risks and surgical revision becomes necessary.

    Sign 16: Asymmetry

    Breasts healing at different rates after surgery can cause mild, temporary asymmetry. But sudden implant shifting or major asymmetry later can mean complications. These include bottoming out, rupture, or capsular contracture. You may explore breast revision surgery with your doctor to fix asymmetry.

    Sign 17: Visible Wrinkling or Rippling of the Implant

    Implants may ripple a little when moving. But obvious wrinkles at rest mean thin breast tissue isn't covering the implant well [17]. More wrinkling over time suggests implant leakage, deflation, or capsular contracture. This compresses the implant into an abnormal shape. Loose skin after pregnancy or weight loss can also worsen implant wrinkles.

    Sign 18: Delayed Wound Healing Post-Surgery

    Incisions normally heal within about 2 weeks. Persistent drainage, widening scars, or areas of wound separation might reflect an underlying issue like infection delaying proper healing. Poor circulation, metabolic disorders like diabetes, and nutritional deficits can also affect wound repair [18]. A skilled surgeon can address any wound healing concerns.

    Sign 19: Calcification or Granulomas

    Calcium deposits and granulomas (inflammatory lumps) may form around implants. They’re generally harmless but may be uncomfortable and show up on mammograms [19]. Cases causing pain or hardening may need surgical removal.

    Sign 20: Skin Thinning or Shrinkage

    The weight of large implants can sometimes thin or stretch the overlying breast skin over time. Breast skin may also look diminished and tightened if capsular contracture compresses the implant into a smaller space.

    Sign 21: Chest Pain or Discomfort

    Visit your surgeon if you’re experiencing breast pain with implants. Causes can range from capsular contracture to ruptured implants [20]. Chest heaviness or tightness might reflect fluid accumulation (seroma) or scarring putting pressure on breast tissues. Don’t ignore new-onset chest pains. You want to rule out any cardiac or implant-related causes as soon as possible.

    Sign 22: Changes in Overall Body Weight

    Weight fluctuations won’t affect your breast implants’ shape. Significant weight gain enlarges breasts — with or without implants. This can potentially cause stretch marks or sagging. Substantial weight loss deflates natural breast tissue, sometimes making implants more visible and vulnerable to wrinkling and rippling. 

    Sign 23: Neurological Symptoms

    Women with silicone implants may experience neurological symptoms after getting breast implants [21]:

    • Fatigue

    • Memory loss

    • Cognitive impairment

    • Generalized myalgias

    • Prolonged numbness and tingling

    Breast implant illness (BII) also involves neurological symptoms like brain fog for some women after augmentation. Check on unexplained neurological complaints to assess any relation to your implants.

    Sign 24: Depression or Anxiety

    Post-breast surgical blues are common. You’re going through a significant change and may feel anxious about the final results. But depression, mood changes, or cognitive dysfunction that doesn’t pass may reflect the controversial breast implant illness syndrome. The link between implants and such symptoms remains unproven [22]. However, some women report mental health improvements after explantation.

    Sign 25: Changes in Vision or Eye Swelling

    Vision changes may rarely occur with implant rupture and silicone spread [23]:

    • Sudden blurred vision

    • Dry eyes

    • Eye pain

    • Eyelid swelling

    MRI and laboratory testing will tell you whether your vision changes are as a result of disseminated silicone granulomatosis.

    What You Need to Do If You Have Breast Implant Problems

    Notice any of the warning signs above? Don’t panic right away.

    Follow these steps to address potential breast implant issues:

    Step 1: Self-Examination

    Check your breasts and implants monthly for any detectable changes in:

    • Size

    • Shape

    • Symmetry

    • Firmness

    • Skin quality

    • Pain

    • Sensation

    Report any redness, swelling, lumps, oozing, or concerning findings to your plastic surgeon right away. Keep notes tracking symptoms to share with him.

    Step 2: Contact Your Surgeon or Healthcare Provider

    Tell your plastic surgeon about any implant problems, pain, or changes you’ve noticed during self-exams. Describe every symptom in detail. From there, he can recommend the next steps like imaging tests to check the implants. He’ll also advise on treatment options.

    Step 3: Detailed Examination

    To diagnose breast implant problems, your plastic surgeon will perform a physical exam analyzing:

    • Implant position

    • Breast shape

    • Tissue health

    • Lymph nodes

    Tell him exactly where you feel pain or lumps. Mammography, MRI, or ultrasound may be needed to further assess the breasts and implants.

    Step 4: Diagnosis

    Based on your symptoms and test findings, your doctor will determine the specific problem. It could be capsular contracture, infection, seroma, or another complication. Definitive diagnosis guides appropriate treatment.

    Step 5: Treatment Plan

    Your surgeon will map out a tailored treatment plan based on your diagnosis.

    This may involve options like:

    • Antibiotics for infection

    • Aspiration to drain seromas

    • Capsulotomy or capsulectomy for capsular contracture

    • Implant replacement or removal

    • Additional surgery to correct complication-induced breast deformities

    Follow your doctor’s recommendations for optimal implant safety.

    Step 6: Follow-Up

    After treatment, see your plastic surgeon for follow-up visits as directed. Follow-up exams ensure proper healing, so don’t skip them. They also allow early treatment if complications come back.

    Step 7: Long-Term Monitoring

    Have your surgeon periodically check your breast implants long-term. Physical exams, MRIs, and ultrasounds allow early detection of silent implant failure.

    Staying vigilant through self-checks and doctor visits helps implants last safely longer. Still, implants don't last forever. You'll likely need surgery again for implant replacement, removal, or to fix late-stage complications. Follow your doctor's long-term monitoring plan for the best outcomes.


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