Can Infection Appear Years After Implantation? Can It Be Inside the Scar Tissue?

9 yrs ago after BA, developed hematoma, it was treated thru surgery & implants remained in, developing cap cont over time in the affected breast only. 2 yrs ago I began developing what seemed like infection in that breast periodically. I am baffled, my drs treat with antibiotics since my symptoms incl radiating heat, pain/tenderness, considerable swelling, & it is only the 1 breast. I am going to have to have revision or removal. Is this infection? scar tissue reaction? Ever heard of this?

Doctor Answers 8

Yes you can have breast implant infection years later

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I is rare but possible for bacteria circulating in your blood stream from something like extensive dental work to seed your long quiet implant and cause an infection.  These can be obvious and full blown or subtle and smoldering like what you are describing.

Your surgeon should probably explore you in the OR and be prepared to take out the implant if there is any abnormal fluid around it.  Several months later, a new implant could be inserted or you could just have both out at the same time and either re-augment later or be done with implants.

Chronic infection state after breast implants? Is this possible?

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What you may have developed is a pathologic biofilm.  There are theories our there that suggest that biofilms may harbor bacteria that could trigger signs of an implant infections years out from surgery.  In addition, there are theories out there that biofilms could precipitate capsular contracture. The good news - this is all very rare.  For a treatment plan, I would recommend a total capsulectomy and implant removal and placement of a new implant.  If a virgin pocket is available, I would place the implant there (such as transitioning from the subglandular position to a submuscle or dual plane position).  Please talk with your board certiifed plastic surgeon to review your options.

Possible breast implant infection

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You may be experiencing a "subclinical" infection or an infection due to a bioflm. Unlike typical infections, these may just smolder along for a long time and are hard to treat with a short course of antibiotics. If you are going to have surgery, your surgeon may want to remove the implant and capsule, then obtain microbiology cultures (with stains, checked for 6 weeks). If you want to continue with breast implants, a new implant should be used and your surgeon may want to use antibiotic irrigation during surgery.

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Breast implant issues

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Your story is not that unusual. It seems that hematomas and capsules and dormant infections are associatedin some way. You may be better off removing the implant and capsule allowing it to heal and then going back in a few months later for a revision.

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

Breast augmentation

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Yes, in my opinion it is possible.  Any foreign object in one's body can become infected, especially if a person has another infection in the body.  This can also occur even years later.

Shahin Javaheri, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Chronic breast implant infections

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In my opinion breast implant patients can get infections around the implants at any time after implant placement, even years later. The implants can get infected secondary to infections elsewhere in the body like the urinary tract or can even result from transient bacteria in the bloodstream from dental work. These infections can be mild and easily treated with antibiotics but never be completely cleared because there is foreign body material present. It depends on the type of bacteria, bacteria glycocalyx formation, capsule properties and patient immunity factors. The infections that never completely clear up can periodically return when the patient is stressed etc. Over time these lead to hardening capsular contracture of the breast. It is a difficult thing to treat because most patients are unwilling to remove the affected implants for 6 months followed by replacement. They would rather take antibiotics intermittently.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Delayed breast implant infection

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It is difficult to know exactly what is going on but to answer your question: Yes, it is possible to develop a breast implant infection years after the intial augmentation. It can be inside the scar tissue or develop from a remote site.

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

Can I develop a breast implant infection years after my surgery?

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Without knowing your full clinical history, it would really be difficult to say whether or not you have an infection at this time.  While infections can certainly develop years down the road, they are much more common in the early period following your surgery.  It would be interesting to know how your other physicians diagnosed your intermittent implant infections and then successfully treated them with abx in the past since the gold standard is to remove your implant for a short period of time and then re-insert a new implant once the infection is cleared.

My recommendation is to visit a local Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and get a second opinion. 

I hope that helps!

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.