Breast Implants Risk and Safety

The Blog
Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon


Breast Implants Risk and Safety

Breast implants are meant to enhance the breast’s size and shape. If you are looking forward to a breast enlargement procedure, it is important to learn as much as possible about the options. Implants generally exist in two types which are silicone and saline. Both implants are similar in that they have silicone as the outer shell, but different because the saline implants are filled with sterile salt water while silicone implants are filled with a silicone gel. As much as implants are considered safe and secure, they have risks that affect individuals after some time post-surgery.

Breast Implant Risks

1. Anesthesia

Anesthesia risks involve negative reactions to the medicines used during surgery. These may include nausea, dizziness, or vomiting.

2. Bleeding

Breast implants can cause excessive bleeding, a condition known as a hematoma. Hematoma occurs when during surgery, a blood vessel gets broken therefore causing excessive bleeding, hence blood clotting in the breast tissues.


Breast implants have either smooth or textured surfaces. The Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma is a condition that occurs in patients with breast implants that have textured surfaces. It is more of cancer of the immune system, though very separate from breast cancer. As a type of cancer, it might develop around breast implants of both types, be it silicone, or saline.

4. Fluid Accumulation

After getting implants positioned within the breasts, there is a risk of fluid accumulating around them which forms a mass or lump inside the breast tissues. This condition is referred to as seroma. Signs of seroma include a swollen spot around the area of the implants, pain in and around the wound, redness and increased temperature in the area affected as well as the visibility of a transparent fluid under the wound.

5. Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is a condition that occurs when the body responds to a breast implant in a manner that deforms the normal shape of the breasts causing immense pain. In other words, it happens when the breast’s scar tissues start to harden and tighten around the implants in place. If the case is severe, it may lead to squeezing of the implant.

6. Changes in Breast Sensation

Breast sensation, otherwise referred to as breast sensitivity is a condition that arises due to various reasons. One of them includes muscle strain. When your implants are oversized such that they exert unnecessary pressure on the breast muscles, there are higher chances of you suffering from changes in breast sensation as time goes by. This may be accompanied by bruising, swelling, and difficulty in moving the arm or shoulder.

7. Hematoma

During the implantation of the breast implants, there is a chance that the walls of the blood vessels might be damaged. This would cause blood leakage outside the blood vessels to the surrounding tissues where blood would accumulate, or even clot, a condition known as a hematoma. Hematoma occurs in several locations each with a specific name.

8. Implant Leakage

All breast implants have an outer shell made of silicone. As time passes by, the chance of this silicone wall developing a tear or rupture increases. When this happens, an individual suffers from implant leakage or deflation which causes breast pain, and may even decontour, or change the shape of the breasts.

9. Infection

When a person has a wound that is not well cared for, the chances of getting wound infections are higher. Infections caused by fungi, bacteria, or any other microorganism would lead to the removal of the implant as the only way to stop further complications.

10. Implant Malposition

This is a condition that occurs when the breast implants are not at the appropriate position such that one is either too high or too low compared to the other one. The correct position to place the implants would be below the pectoral muscles where the pockets are properly created.

11. Persistent pain

Post-surgery, if you experience persistent pain in the breasts or around the area of the implants, you would have to consult your surgeon for necessary actions to be taken.

12. Palpability

Palpability is when the implants placed can be felt through the skin.

13. Skin Rash

After surgery, a skin rash may develop on or around the breasts due to the Dermabond glue.

Safety tips for Breast Implants

Breast implants are generally considered safe though they are not meant to last for a lifetime. The difference between the safety of a saline or silicone implant is very minimal based on research by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).


Saline and silicone implants are approved for women from 18 years and above, though there is a difference in who can have the two types. While silicone breast implants are suitable for women 22 years and above, saline breast implants are suitable for women above the age of 18. This is because the risks and complications involved differ in terms of removal of a torn silicone and saline implant.

Surgical Differences

The method in which a saline implant is placed is different from the way a silicone implant is placed. Saline implants are first positioned inside the breasts empty after which they are filled up with the sterile salt water, while silicone implants are positioned when they are already filled with the silicone gel. This shows that saline implants require a very minimal incision compared to silicone implants. Also, a saline implant’s size can be adjusted after surgery while a silicone implant’s size remains as it was initially before implantation.

Aesthetical Results

Most patients and plastic surgeons prefer the look and feel that a silicone breast implant gives. This is because they are more like the real breast tissues, while saline breast implants are known to be prone to causing skin rippling.


When the silicone breast implants rupture, it is difficult to immediately notice. This is because the leaking silicone stays within the body. It can only be detected by undergoing an MRI. Doctors advise individuals with a silicone breast implant to undergo an MRI three years after surgery, and within an interval of two years to be able to spot any leakage before it gets worse. When saline breast implant ruptures, the saltwater gets absorbed into the body, which is harmless, making it easy to detect.


Saline implants lack platinum as silicone implants contain platinum. While some women fear silicone gel implants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found no risks associated with platinum silicone gel implants.


Both types of breast implants have their risks, complications, and safety. As an individual, when you spot anything out of the ordinary while recovering from breast augmentation surgery, it is wise to seek medical attention as fast as possible before serious complications arise.