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Breast Implant Risks and Side Effects

Oct 9, 2007
From special mammography considerations, to breastfeeding issues, to implant leakage, you need to be aware of breast implant side effects. If you know what's happening, you'll know what to do. By helping you understand common side effects, this article will help you cope with them in a healthy way.

Breast Feeding

Many breast implant patients successfully breastfeed; however, breast implants may interfere with breast feeding. Tell your plastic surgeon about plans to breastfeed because it may impact the surgical technique.

There is a risk that breast implants may impede breast cancer detection. During mammography, X-ray, or ultrasound the implants could hide suspicious tumors or lesions. Treatment providers must take special care of breast-implant patients during breast exams. Additional views are required, which take additional time for imaging. When you make a mammography appointment, tell the receptionist about the implants so they can schedule the extra time.

The radiologist needs to use special imaging: "Eklund displacement views." Eklund views maximize what is seen of the breast tissue to better detect tumors or lesions. Eklund views are done in addition to the standard views.

Just before the actual mammograms begin, tell the radiology technician about the breast implants. This helps ensure that the technician includes Eklund displacement views in the examination.

Mammography also compresses the breasts, which increases the chance of a rupture.

Loss of Sensation

After breast surgery, some implant patients experience loss of sensation in the nipple and breast area. Loss of sensation results from damage to nerve endings in the breast and nipple. The loss of sensation is often temporary, but it can be permanent. The surgical technique can play a role in this complication. Your surgeon can determine the most appropriate implant and surgical technique to minimize loss of sensation. Read more about the breast sensitivity side effect.

Leaking or Leaching of Breast Implant Material

There have been studies of possible harmful effects of breast implant materials leaking or leaching into the surrounding breast tissue. The studies concluded that there is insufficient evidence of harmful effects for implant materials that are approved by the FDA. These FDA-approved materials are also widely used in other types of medical implants, including pacemakers, intraocular lenses, artificial joints, and other medical devices.


No implant will last forever. Implants can break or rupture, causing deflation. Many ruptures result from the natural aging of the implant, excessive compression to the breast, or trauma to the breast. The most noticeable effect is that the size and shape of the breast change. Depending on the size of the rupture, changes in breast appearance can occur over a few days or over a very long period of time.

Mammography sometimes compresses the breast implant enough to cause rupture. According to the FDA and medical literature, there were reports of 58 breast implant ruptures during mammography from 1992 to 2002. Technicians must take special care to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on the breasts.

Typically, surgery is needed to remove a deflated breast implant. Most women decide to have the implants replaced. For those women who do not have their implants replaced, dimpling or puckering of the breast may appear following removal.

Ask Your Doctor

Before you have surgery, discuss possible side effects with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience in breast augmentation. Selecting the right plastic surgeon, following pre- and post-operative instructions, and setting realistic expectations for your implant size and shape, can help you avoid side effects.
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