I had Sientra implants in 12/2013. I developed an atypical mycobacerial infection.

Has this been a problem with the Sientra implants? This is especially concerning with the news of the manufacturing problems, particles being found on the implants, and they are not being used anymore. I'm am still dealing with this over 2 years later.

Doctor Answers 5

Atypical mycobacterium

This is an unusual infection, and is not associated with Sientra implants, to my knowledge.  It is more typically related to an inadvertent break in sterile technique by the surgical team, or instrument contamination.  It has been reported in surgical marking dye, liposuction cannulas, and a number of other outside sources, like fish tanks, hot tubs, soil and farm animals.

Sientra had an independent inspection of their implants, and their reintroduction into the US market was approved by the FDA.

Atypical Infection

Atypical mycobacterial infections are related to a break in sterile technique by your surgeon. There was a recent article in the plastic surgery journal about a plastic surgeon who contaminated about 20 patients in israel with mycobacteria that originated from his hot tub. This has nothing to do with the Sientra implants and everything to do with your surgeons technique and just plain bad luck. That said, the fix for this should not be a 2 year fix. It should be instant:
Implants out, antibiotics. If you're "still dealing with this" then your surgeon is not dealing with this correctly.

Breast Augmentation - Mycobacterium infection

Thank you for your question. It is extremely unlikely the mycobacterium infection was due to the Sientra implants. It most likely was introduced in the Operating Room during your surgery. It can occur due to a break in sterile technique by your surgeon or contaminated instruments. Sientra implants never had a problem with mycobacterial contamination so it is unlikely a result of the implant itself. Please see an infectious disease specialist for further guidance. Hope this helps and good luck.

Albany NY Sientra Plastic Surgery Expert says your infection is likely unrelated to the implant

You may have had the mycobacterium introduced by improperly sterilized instruments or  a break in sterile technique (contamination by your surgeon) at surgery, but the Sientra implants come to the OR sterile, and are not contaminated with bacteria.  So as devastating as your infection may be, it is not the implants themselves that caused it. If you are concerned that the infection occurred at the time of your implant placement surgery, you should contact the surgery center and they should have an infectious disease specialist or infection control specialist perform a "root cause analysis"
Hope this helps and best of luck!

P.S.  Sientra implants have returned to the market  with ongoing FDA approval in the United States as of this month- March 2016 and are only available at this time in the Albany NY, Capital District area at Saratoga Springs Plastic Surgery, PC

Steven Yarinsky, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Atypical mycobacterium infection

Your situation sounds terrible and I am very sorry you are going through this. The particles on Sientra were not an issue (microscopic sterile cotton fibers from sterile lap sponges that are used in handling the implants during the packaging process and sterile silica dust particles that are what the shells are made of and are physiologically inert). There were no problems found with any of the implants and they are available again. 
I am sure you are working with an infectious disease specialist and know that the type of infection you have is most commonly found in patients that are immunocompromised in some way. Many types of the atypical mycobacterium come from the environment (soil, water, vegetables, and dairy products). Any foreign body (like suture material,  breast implant, heart valve, or orthopedic implant) can be a place where bacteria commonly grow essentially beyond reach of your immune system.
I have had one patient who developed an area of infection a year after an abdominoplasty that required surgical removal and resolved. Some patients require many aggressive surgeries to try and control this process and it can be very devastating. I hope you are working with the best specialists available in your area, and wish you the best during this difficult time.

Stacey Folk, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 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.