Breast implant removal, or breast “explant” surgery, usually occurs when women choose to augment or remove their breast implants. Breast implants do not last forever, so women who want to keep their implants will eventually need surgery to replace the implants. The risk of rupture or leakage with breast implants increases with the age of the implant; most implants last about 10 years. 1 in 5 women who get breast implants will have them removed. This implicates concerns about breast augmentation malpractice.
Complications with Breast Implants
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 23,774 women had breast implants removed in 2014. While a portion of these is due to women deciding to decrease breast size for cosmetic reasons, many are the result of increasing scrutiny about the safety of silicone and saline implants.
Major complications include:
- Hardening of breast or capsular contracture
- Rupture or leak in implant
- Ruptures and Leaks in Implants
- Infection or mold around implant
- Additional surgeries
- Surgical risks
- Fluid retention
- Necrosis (loss of blood and subsequent death of skin)
- Change in sensitivity of breasts and nipples
Women with breast implants also have increased difficultly with breastfeeding.
Ruptures and Leaks in Breast Implants
Medical studies show that:
- 46% of women with silicone gel breast implants and 21% of women with saline breast implants will have another operation on the implants within three years
- 25% of women with silicone gel implants and 8% of women with saline implants eventually had the implants removed
- 6% of women with silicone implants and 16% of women with saline implants report breast pain as a result of the implants
A study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that silicone breast implants last an average of 11.5 years before they rupture or start to leak. The FDA also examined 687 women who had no additional surgeries on their breast implants and who did not believe them to be damaged. These women underwent MRI scans of their breast implants, and the FDA found that 69% of women have at least one ruptured implant or "silent leak". The percent of ruptures increased with the age of the implants.
The study also showed that 21% of the women tested had silicone gel that had migrated out of the scar tissue surrounding the implant. Gel outside the scar tissue is extremely difficult to remove and can result in mastectomies (breast removal). A study by Case Western Reserve School of Medicine found that a possible cause for this migration could be silicone gel that dissolves into a liquid at body temperature.
The FDA recommend MRI scans for women with silicone breast implants 3 years after the initial surgery and every 2 years thereafter to check for “silent leaks”.
Cancer and Implants
Breast implants have also been found to both cause and prevent detection of cancers.
According to one medical study, 55% of breast tumors in women will be undetectable in women with breast implants. The FDA found that mammograms, a major screening test for breast tumors, increase the likelihood of implant rupture.
The FDA has also identified a link between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare cancer. The FDA reports that women have a “very low but increased” risk of developing ALCL with breast implants.
Medical Malpractice in Breast Implant Removal
If you or a loved one had breast implants removed and suffered serious consequences as a result of the implants or the removal surgery, call Gilman & Bedigian today to schedule a free consultation.
Patients should be aware of both the risks associated with breast implants and the inevitable need to replace them. These risks, however, should not be aggravated and compounded by medical negligence. Call our office today to learn more about your legal options.