Everything you need to know about the complications of mammary implants

Everything you need to know about the complications of mammary implants

09th Dec 2017

Each surgical intervention comes with certain risks and complications. The general risks of surgery are bleeding, side effects after the anesthesia, swelling, infection and pain. There are no surgeries, whatever the medical field might be, that is completely risk-free. Of course, there are certain procedures that come with fewer risks and potential complications than others, but there are still patients who choose to undergo risky surgeries. This is because the overall benefits outweigh the potential risks and complications.

There has been higher demand for mammary implants around the world, and especially in the US market. Women opt for breast implants to attain a better-looking cleavage, a more impressive silhouette, and have altogether alluring curves. However, like all surgeries, the mammary implant surgery also presents its own risks and complications.

Listed below are the potential complications of a breast implant surgery:

Deflation or rupture

It is possible for the implant to rupture. When the shell of a mammary prosthesis filled with gel ruptures, it may cause the gel to leak from the implant. Unfortunately, this is not always easy to notice in the case of silicone gel implants unless the implant changes its shape. The most effective method to detect a rupture is by getting a mammogram or an MRI done.

On the other hand, it is easy to detect rupturing for saline solution implants because deflation occurs. Deflation or rupturing can occur at any time after the implant procedure is done, whether it is in the first few months or even a few years after.

There are several reasons why the implants may rupture or deflate, which include the following:

  • Damage to the implant shell caused by the surgical equipment during surgery
  • Excessive or under-filling of the saline implant
  • Capsular contracture
  • Closed capsulotomy
  • Traumas caused by intense physical manipulation
  • Excessive compression during mammography
  • Placement of the incision at the umbilical level, as well as other reasons that are unknown or unexplained

If the implant ruptures and deflates, another surgical intervention will be required to remove and replace them.

Capsular contracture

Capsular contracture occurs when the scar or capsule that naturally forms around the implant hardens and puts pressure on the implant. Capsular contracture occurs more often in cases of infection, hematoma or seroma. In other words, it is your immune system’s response to foreign materials inserted in the body, which causes the formation of capsules of tightly woven collagen fibers. The symptoms vary depending on the extent of the capsular contracture. It may cause you to have a firm breast, mild discomfort, pain, deformity, odd feeling when touching the implant, and sometimes it can even cause the implant to move.

A surgical intervention will be required when the pain and/or hardness is severe. The type of surgical intervention varies depending on how bad it is. For some, it may be necessary steps to remove the capsule tissue of the implant, while for others, the implant has to be removed and replaced completely.

Unfortunately, capsular contracture can occur again, even with a new implant and after corrective surgery.


Different intensities and lengths of pain can occur and persist after the breast implant surgical intervention. The dimension, placement, unsuitable surgical technique or capsular contracture can cause pain due to the touch of a nerve or with interference of the muscle movement. You should always consult your plastic surgeon if you are confronted with terrible pain.

Additional surgical interventions

Women should understand that there is always a possibility that at some point in time an additional surgical intervention might be required to replace or remove an implant. Mandatory removal may be necessary when the following issues occur: deflation/rupturing, capsular contracture, infection, migration of implant, or calcium build-ups.

In addition, some women will decide to have their implants replaced with new ones, while others will remove them completely. Those who do not want to replace the implants may be left with wrinkles and sagginess.

Unsatisfactory aesthetic results

Less than satisfactory results after the surgery are also possible. Asymmetry, implant migration, incorrect dimensions of the breasts, the uncommon shape of the breasts, implant palpability and visibility through the skin, a deformed scar, and even implant rippling are common side effects that patients from all over the world are confronted with. Consequently, proper planning and preparedness on the patients is just as important as having a highly qualified surgeon. Furthermore, an impeccable surgical technique can minimize the unsatisfactory results, but these are not always entirely preventable.


Infection can occur after any surgical intervention. Most infections associated with surgical interventions occur no later than a few days or weeks after the surgery. Still, there is a risk of wound infection at any time after the intervention. When an implant is present, the infection is more difficult to treat than the infections that occur in the normal tissues of the body. If an infection is not responsive to the antibiotics, then it might become necessary to remove the implant. Another implant may be replaced after the infection is treated.

In rare cases, the toxic shock syndrome occurs after the breast implant surgery. This is a life-threatening complication, and its symptoms include unexpected fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and/or eczema similar to the ones produced by the sun. You must immediately consult your doctor for diagnosing and treatment.

Hematoma and Seroma

A hematoma is a blood accumulation in the interior or a body cavity, whereas seroma is an accumulation of liquid (in this case, it occurs around the implant or the incision). If hematoma or seroma occurs post-operatively, it can lead to infection and/or capsular contracture. Pain, wounds and swelling can occur. A hematoma usually occurs immediately after the surgical intervention, but this can also happen at any given time after the breast incision is done.

The body will naturally absorb the minor hematomas and seromas, but the bigger ones will require drain tubes for proper healing. A small scar can occur after the surgical drainage.

Changes in sensitivity around the nipple and breast

Sensitivity of the nipple(s) and breast(s) can be enhanced or decreased after the breast implant surgery. The changes can range from intense sensitivity to no sensitivity in the nipple and breast area after the surgical intervention. The changes in sensitivity can be permanent or temporary, which can affect the sexual response or the ability to breastfeed.


Research has proven that it is safe for mothers with breast implants to breastfeed. However, it depends on the placement of the incision because the periareolar incision, for example, can significantly reduce a mother’s breastfeeding ability.

Calcium build-up in the tissue surrounding the implants

On some mammograms, we can find calcium deposits on the breast tissue that sometimes can be wrongly identified as cancer. In this situation, additional surgery might be needed, as well as a biopsy and/or removing the implants for a proper diagnosis.

Delayed wound healing

In some cases, the incision site won’t heal normally. This situation occurs more often with patients who smoke a lot.


Fat tissue necrosis is the formation of dead tissue around the implant. This can delay the healing of the wound and can lead to a surgical correction or a different intervention to remove the implant. Necrosis may cause a permanent deformation. The causes of necrosis are infection, using steroids in the surgical bag, smoking, chemotherapy, and therapy with excessive heat or cold.

Atrophy of the mammary tissue

The pressure caused by the mammary implants may lead to the thinning and retraction of the mammary tissue. This can happen while the implants are still inside the body or after the implants have been removed and not replaced.


One of the misconceptions is that there is a strong relation between cancer and breast implants, but actually breast cancer is by no means more frequent in women with implants compared to women without implants. Studies have proven that there is no connection between breast cancer and implants.


Even though breast surgical procedures are common, women still worry about the risks and complications. The breast augmentation with mammary implants procedure is one of the most requested and performed cosmetic surgeries on the body in the United States and the world. It can help women achieve the bust they have always dreamed of and the hourglass silhouette that is undeniably attractive.

Before scheduling the appointment for your breast augmentation surgery with implants, make sure to research and get all the information you need about the procedure, risks and complications. A prepared patient has higher chances of a satisfactory result after the intervention.

Just like any other surgical interventions, the breast implant surgery has complications. Some are general complications related to the anesthetic and the surgery while others are specific to this intervention such as capsular contracture, rippling of the implants, rupture or deflation of the implants and so on. It simply depends if you think that these risks are worth it.

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