What Happens to Breast Implants on a Plane Trip?

How are breast implants affected by altitude or high pressure? Are there some changes to implants at high altitude? What happens and what precautions are needed?

Doctor Answers (18)

It's an urban myth

+4

I understand there was a certain airline company several years ago that spread a rumour. They were finding that a lot of their staff were taking time off after their cabin crew were getting breast implant surgery, so they started spreading a rumour that implants could explode in mid air. So, the crew stopped getting implants and normal flight services were resumed!

Nothing should happen to the implants, but whenever implants are inserted, there's a small amount of air that goes into the pocket which your body absorbs after a few days. The air may expand a bit and so you may feel like there's bubble wrap inside you and you're popping it. That's harmless, though


Glasgow Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Are Breast Implants Attected by Air Travel?

+3

No, No, No, and NO.      There is 100% no problem flying on an airplane after breast implants.  In fact you can become an astronaut if you like and do space travel.  One astronaut  had breast implants in her college years and then flew in the shuttle.   Did her implants explode?  Implode?  No and No again.  Her implants tarveled to the space station with her and returned happily.  If your liver, heart, brain, anf big toe can fly in safety so can your breast implants.  They become part of you  Enjoy them and fear NOT.  Dr George Commomns

George Commons, MD
Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Nothing will happen to your implants regardless of the altitude

+3

When I was in training one of my plastic surgeon professors had been a flight surgeon before becoming a plastic surgeon. He was still active with the aerospace program and there for had access to the altitude chamber. He like many, felt that if you ended up at a very high altitude, there would be significant problems with your implants. So he set up a camera to video the implant and then used the chamber to take the atmospheric pressure to extremely high altitudes. He was surprised to see nothing happened. He then thought that being stretchy the implant had enlarged but you just didn't see it. So he put it in a jar of water where he was sure that the water would come splashing out. Again nothing happened. So the absolute and final answer is that nothing will happen to you or your implants even if you were to find yourself at extreme altitudes but you better have an oxygen mask to keep you alive because of the problem with getting the oxygen your body needs. Your implants will also not be affected by scuba diving to significant depths. 

As to the answer that there are little air bubbles that could expand, after a reasonable amount of time, several weeks, there will be not air bubbles in your tissue. 

So worry not, this is not an issue to worry about. 

Carl W. 'Rick' Lentz III, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

You might also like...

Effect of altitude and pressure on breast implants

+2

Altitude and pressure have no effect on breast implants.  Flying after surgery can be a problem only if you have to tote and lift heavy bags in the early post-op period. 

Fly, SCUBA, parasail, parachute jump; enjoy life.  Most surgeons would recommend waiting for six weeks afer surgery, though, before engaging in vigorous physical activity that might impact your chest.

Daniel Greenwald, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Effect of altitude on breast implants

+2

You may be surprised, but I get this question a lot.  As far as pressure goes, there is high pressure and low pressure.

On an airplane, you have low pressure.  Typically, the interior of the plane is pressurized (certainly for any commercial airplane or any airplane going very high), but not pressurized all the way to sea level pressure.

Scuba diving is high pressure.  You typically get one atmosphere of pressure for every 33 feet of depth, so at 33 feet, you have two atmospheres, at 66 feet three atmospheres, and 99 feet four atmospheres.

As you learn in scuba class, pressure (at least in the range that will not kill a human) only affects gas, not fluid or solid.  The implant will not be affected, since it is not gas.  A recently placed saline implant may have a tiny bit of air still in it, but that should not be a problem.

However, there will be air around the implant when you have recently had surgery.  That is why you may notice a gurgling sound when your implant moves if it has only been a few weeks since your surgery.  Often, the gurgling sound increases after a few weeks, as the tissues soften and the implant can move more.  Then, it will decrease after four to six weeks as the body absorbs the air.  The same thing happens with any surgery in any body cavity.

So, going up in an airplane after surgery, the air around the implant may expand due to the decreased pressure.  The cabin is typically pressurized to about 10,000 feet, so that probably will cause the air around the implant to increase in volume by about 40% (at 18,000 feet it would double in volume).

There is normally not a lot of air around the implant, so the increased volume is not likely to be a problem in most cases, but you should check with your surgeon if you are planning a plane trip or to go to very high altitudes within about six weeks of your surgery.

Other issues with flying include the increased of a blood clot in the calves with sitting in a cramped seat, so you should get up and walk around frequently during any flight.  Also, you should check with your surgeon about going in the ocean after surgery, to make sure that there won't be any problem exposing your incision to sea water.

James Nachbar, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

You Can Fly With Breast Implants

+1

Patients are frequently concerned about the safety of breast implants when they fly at high altitudes. These concerns are related to a large number of urban myths about exploding breast implants. It’s safe to say that breast implants don’t explode at high altitudes and are extremely safe. There’s no reason not to fly when you have breast implants.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

They are not affected at all

+1
Implants are very, very durable, so much so that even if they were to be hit directly, they would be able to withstand tons of force. In addition, they are not affected by altitude changes, which means that you do not have to worry at all about flying and landing.  

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

No additional precautions

+1
There are no precautions that need to be taken with breast implants at altitude in a pressurized commercial aircraft.  

Gary Lawton, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

What happens to breast implants on a plane trip?

+1
Hello!  Thank you for your question!  Altitude and pressure have no effect on breast implants, whether saline or silicone.  It is safe to travel by air within pressurized cabins or even scuba dive without concern.  No further precautions should be taken during these activities. Certainly, discuss any concerns with your surgeon prior.

In the same manner, blunt force will unlikely cause rupture.  Repeated trauma from the folding if the implant over time is known to be associated with rupture. Obviously, penetrating trauma from sharp objects will also result in rupture. Both saline and silicone implants are very durable and daily activities will not cause any increased risk to the integrity of the implant. Hope that thus helps. Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Breast implants and extreme changes in altitude

+1

Breast implants are very durable and resilient products. They will not be affected by altitude changes( i.e in an airplane) or under the sea while scuba diving. 

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.