Can Fungus or Bacteria Grow Inside a Breast Implant?

I heard a web report of bacterial or fungal growth in a saline implant. Can this happen with mentor silicone breast implants?

Doctor Answers 12

Fungi in Saline and Silicone Implants?

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 Yes in saline, it has been reported in the Plastic Surgery literature. Though unlikely in silicone implants, the thought of 'never say never' applies. 

Hope this helps.

Breast implant complications

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Infection is exceedingly rare in breast augmentation. If you add to it a rare microorganism then the math becomes less and less likely. Once an implant is exposed to infection it must come out. They are rarely salvageable but fortunately an exceedingly unusual event.

Best Wishes.

Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 125 reviews

Fungi or bacteria in breast implants

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Yes, there have been reports of fungi or bacteria growing in implants. This has been in saline filled implants. Since silicone implants are solid structure without a fill valve, they have not been reported as far as I know in these implants.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

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Silicone Implants

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I have never personally seen this happen, nor do I have any colleagues who have personally seen it. I have however heard of such things happening with saline implants, but it would not be possible with a silicone filled implant. Silicone implants are filled at the factory, and sealed in a sterile packaging system. There are pros and cons to both types of implants. If you are most concerned with possible fungal growth, silicone may be the best option.

Darrick E. Antell, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

This shouldn't be possible with a silicone gel implant.

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I have heard of this in rare cases with saline implants when they are not filled using a sterile "closed system." However, I have never personally seen a case of it. Since the gel implants are filled and sterilized at the manufacturing plant, this shouldn't be a concern.

Silicone implants come prefilled, so no you cant have something grow "inside".

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There were some reports early in our experience of Saline implants growing fungus in them because some plastic surgeons would pour saline in a bowl, and then fill the implant from there. We learned this early, and started having it be in a "closed system" by placing a 3 way stopcock on the syringe, and go straight to an IV bag. This leaves no air to get spores in the bowl, and then into the implant.

Silicone implants come prefilled with silicone. So the only way that one could have contamination inside the implant, is to have it done so in the manufacturing. There are very strict controls on manufacturing by the FDA, so that is highly unlikely. You can however, when placing the implants into the pocket get some bacteria from the patients body and skin to be pulled in on the implant, and into the pocket that could cause contamination. This is why it is so important that you go to a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, like one who is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, as they have had many years of training, not just a weekend course, in sterile technique, and how to decrease the complications of surgery.

Dan Mills, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Bacteria or fungus can grow in contaminated saline implants

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The saline we put in the saline implant is sterile and we use a close technique to fill the implant. We try to handle the implant as little as possible to prevent contamination

If contamination does occur, then yes, the bacteria or fungus can grow in and around the implant.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Fungus in saline implants

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I personally did have experience with this. I removed an implant placed by another doctor in my town, since retired, which was black when I exposed it. Luckily there was no leakage of the saline when I removed it. When I called the doctor to tell him about this he admitted to using the open basin technique as decribed by the other surgeons here. I think he also added an antibiotic to the saline as well. In any event, I can confirm from personal experience that this can happen.

Robert B. Pollack, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon

Fungus or bacteria inside breast implants theoretically possible

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Yes, this is THEORETICALLY possible especially when implants were filled step wise with syringes from an open bowl (open system). But even when does this way, this was a rarity which was publicized by a magazine article featuring a single Plastic surgeon in Georgia.

Why was it so uncommon? Simply, to infect something 2 requirements must be met. First, you must place enough bacteria or fungus in a certain part of the body that overwhelms the local immune defenses. (Anything less than that and the body will kill the germs). Second, once the immune defenses are overwhelmed there must be enough food there for the bacteria to support many cycles of cell division and multiplication of the germs to allow them to spread the infection. Simply put, like people, bacteria and fungus need food (substrate) to live on. The salt water in implants has no nutrients and although not hostile, does not provide a welcoming nutrition full environment for them.As a result, even with open system implant filling this was not a common complication.

These days, most of us use closed sterile system to fill saline breast implants. I have never seen this complication nor have I had any friends who reported seeing it.

Good Luck.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Breast Implants and fungal infection

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Yes this can happen and was typically associated with open filling of the implants.

Currently, the risks of this developing have greatly diminished with the use of the closed system which is also known as the aseptic fill kit.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 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.