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Sharp Pain 10 Years After Saline Breast Implants

I had Saline breast implants 10 years ago. They are under my muscle and have been very happy with the results. One week ago, I began noticing a sharp pain at the base (where the bottom of your bra sits) of my breast. It can travel up towards my nipple. It is most uncomfortable when I bend over without a bra. It is more tolerable when I wear a bra. This pain is only on one breast. What would you suggest I do? What do you think it could be?

Doctor Answers 10

Breast Pain

It sounds as if this is probably from some type of activity that has caused sensitivity of a sensory nerve because the pain radiates to the nipple. That can happen from physical activity such as lifting weights or something as simple as working in the back yard. Most of the time it is difficult to determine what event was the cause. Treatment consists of using NSAIDS such as motrin (Advil), etc.

Generally, things will improve over 2-3 weeks and resolve completely thereafter. Without any other changes, pain by itself is annoying but frequently harmless and slowly improves with time. It is also possible that something else such as a capsular contacture could be starting but you would eventually determine that if the breast starts to become firm.

Occasionally, the capsule around the implant will tear or shear away from the part of the capsule that is adherent to the rib cage with activity. This can produce symptoms such as yours and in some cases can cause bleeding around the implants and later capsular contracture. Without any signs of infection, it should be reasonable to treat yourself symptomatically with an analgesic of your choice...Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, etc. Hope this helps.

Ventura Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

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Definitely have it looked at to be safe


Thank you for your question.

It is hard to say without examining you. I would definitely get a mammogram to make sure there are no suspicious findings. The pain could caused from physical activity that put too much strain on your breast. In that case, the pain should subside within a few weeks. The pain could also be linked to capsular contracture or maye even a loose pocket judging by the symptoms you described. For the last two, surgery would most likely be necessary to correct. You should see your board-certified plastic surgeon, especially if the pain is not going away.

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

New Breast Pain, Old Implant Surgery

Brooke in ND:

Since you had surgery more than a year ago and have recently developed the pain, you should handle this like pain that develops in someone without implants. It probably has nothing to do with the prior surgery. (Unless your have developed a late infection or hard capsule, which would be noticible for other reasons.)

Contact your primary care physician (gynecologist, family practitioner, or internist) and schedule a breast exam. They may order any breast imaging studies they think would be helpful in their evaluation. They would ask additional questions and perform an examination. If they suspected an implant related issue they would refer you back to your plastic surgeon.

Saline implants are very safe and not likely causing your pain. Good luck.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Breast pain

 The reasons for breast pain are numerous. It is hard to give you a definitive answer without examining you. The best thing to do is see your doctor to be properly evaluated.  

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

Can be seen in a loose capsule

I have seen a few patients for revision who felt their breasts fell too far to the side when they laid down and had some discomfort when leaning forward out of a bra. They were treated by an operation to tighten up the capsule by sewing inside and although I could never promise the pain would go away, these patients felt better after the procedure. You should make an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can examine you and give you a better idea of your options. Take care.

Dr Edwards

Hard to tell what you're experiencing

Hi Brooke,

It's hard to tell what you're experiencing without performing a detailed history and physical exam. I don't think it's anything alarming, but do suggest you see a plastic surgeon in the office. It's simply too difficult to diagnose this problem in this type of forum. Good luck!

Elan B. Singer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Conservative Management & Mammography or MRI Studies for Breast Pain

It’s not unusual for patients to develop breast pain ten years after undergoing breast augmentation surgery. In the vast majority of patients this type of pain isn’t related to breast implants unless capsular contractures are present. Instead, this type of breast pain is usually related to musculoskeletal strains.

In this particular case, pain that radiated to the nipple suggests some type of strain or stretching of sensory nerves. In the vast majority of cases, conservative management is appropriate and results in resolution of symptoms. In the short term, analgesics and muscle relaxants may be appropriate as well.

If this pain fails to respond to conservative management further investigation is appropriate. In some cases this may require mammography and possibly MRI studies. Under these circumstances it’s appropriate to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon. 

See your surgeon for evaluation

It is unusual to be experiencing this pain. Please see your surgeon for an assessment of your concern. Best of luck.

Sharp pain 10 years after saline breast implants?

Hello! Thank you for your question! Your symptoms sound like your nerves regenerating. Breast procedures such as the breast augmentation and breast lift/reduction certainly result in a more shapely, perky, and fuller appearance of your breasts. With any breast procedure there is a risk, albeit very small, of change in sensation to the area. The reported rate of sensation changes (decreased, loss, or increased) is ~7% for lift/reductions and much smaller for breast augmentation. In my experience, this rate is reportedly much lower, but is higher when tissue is excised or the amount of lift that is needed, so the breast reduction procedure has a slightly greater risk. It can take up to a year for full sensation to return. Re-educating your nerves to these areas by using different textures when showering and putting on lotion often helps.  Given your signs/symptoms, it is best to seek attention from your surgeon and/or primary care.  Clinical examination as well as possible imaging studies may be needed.  Discussion of all of your symptoms is warranted.

It is one risk of such a procedure, and one that you must consider, amongst others, as with any surgical procedure. You should consult with a plastic surgeon well-trained in breast procedures who will examine and discuss with you the various risks and benefits of the procedure(s) and assist you in deciding if such a procedure will be the right decision for you.

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Sharp pain of the left breast

More than likely you stretched the lateral nerves that innervate the breast.  This should be a temporary situation.  As you mentioned positioning make it better because you are getting the implant away from these nerves.  This is giving you the temporary relief.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 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.