What Happens When Breast Implants Fail?

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While breast augmentation remains the most popular cosmetic procedure, there are patients who decide to remove their implants for a variety of reasons. The most common reason we see is that women are choosing to exchange them based on personal aesthetic preferences. Some are unhappy with the size of their breasts after a previous breast augmentation by another surgeon. They may wish to replace their current implants with a new size and possibly a lift if the implants have stretched out the natural tissue. Over time, some women find that their breast implants no longer suit their cosmetic preferences or changing lifestyle and wish to remove their implants altogether to return to their natural aesthetic.

Can Breast Implants Fail?

Breast implants can occasionally malfunction. The most common issues are rupture and capsular contracture (formation of excess scar tissue around the implant). A rupture is typically not damaging to your health; leaked saline is safely absorbed by the body, and silicone generally stays in place until it can be removed by one of our surgeons. A capsular contracture happens when the scar tissue around your implant becomes too thick or tight. Removing this scar and allowing your body to create a new one will often resolve the issue.

What is Breast Implant Illness?

Some women with breast implants are reporting a variety of symptoms ranging from fatigue and memory loss to rashes, “brain fog,” and joint pain. These symptoms are collectively called Breast Implant Illness (BII) or silicone implant illness / sickness. These symptoms and their causes are poorly understood. We have found that removal of the breast implants without replacement will reverse the symptoms of BII for some patients. The doctors at Gawley Plastic Surgery continue to support research aimed at better understanding the issue.

The most up to date information available is through the FDA. Additionally, the Aesthetic Society (ASAPS) also maintains up to date information for patients.

What is Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)?

BIA-ALCL is an uncommon and highly treatable type of lymphoma that can develop around textured implants. This typically occurs about 8-9 years after surgery and may be the result of either saline or silicone textured implants. If you have smooth implants, you do not need to worry about BIA-ALCL, as no cases have been reported with these types of implants. Remember that both BIA-ALCL and the specific implants associated with it are incredibly rare.

As a result of BIA-ALCL, certain Allergan textured implants have been recalled in the U.S. If you currently have these recalled implants, it is not necessary for you to have them removed, but it may be worthwhile to have your breasts and implants examined, especially if you have the symptoms of BIA-ALCL.

The most common BIA-ALCL symptoms include:

  • Breast enlargement (typically double the size)
  • Lump in the breast area and/or armpit
  • Fluid Collection

If you are found to have BIA-ALCL, you should have an En-Bloc total capsulectomy. This is a procedure in which the entire breast implant and capsule are removed. Both Dr. Gawley and Dr. Mahabir specialize in this procedure.

For the latest on BIA-ALCL, please check the FDA website. The American Society of Plastic Surgery maintains a patient information page on this topic as well.

Request a Consultation

If you want more information on your current breast implants or are interested in having a procedure in the future, contact the doctors at Gawley Plastic Surgery today. You can contact us online or over the phone at 480-696-6361.