Is there a routine test to detect and monitor mold/bacteria levels in saline implants?

I have saline implants that are 18 years old. I am not sure if they are smooth or textured. Although I have not had blatant health problems, that I am aware of, I was planning to replace them; however, after heavily researching, it is evident many dangers exist if I leave the current ones in or replace with smooth saline. My normal breasts are disfigured and the thought of going back to them is terrifying but it is not worth risking disease or premature death.

Doctor Answers 4

Risk of replacement is very low.

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The risk of having bacteria/mold in your implants is extremely low and should not cause you to feel you must remove your current implants and replace them as long as everything is going well.  The current standard for filling saline implants is to do it  through a "closed system", which means a sterile IV bag is connected to a sterile IV tubing which runs the sterile IV fluid into your sterile implant.  As long as there are no breaks in sterile technique during the procedure, you can feel confident this fluid is sterile.   If you wish to replace your current implants, you can proceed with the same confidence level you had for your 1st augmentation.  See a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss this in detail.  Best wishes.


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Unlikely that your implants are growing mold.  Not worth it to investigate.  

I recommend an in-office examination as well as a detailed discussion with a surgeon who you are comfortable with and who is a Double-Board Certified Plastic Surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Best wishes!

Dr. Desai

"Dangers" of implants and the very real danger of internet "experts"

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Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet that can lead patients to be needless worry.  I have personally seen one implant in twenty years of practice that had grown mold.  This is an extremely rare occurrence and would require a break in sterile technique.  Please rest assured that you do not need to worry about this.

Evaluating saline implants

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There is no significant danger to leaving your saline implants in place so a decision to replace them should be based on whether you have issues with how they appear or feel. The possibility of mold or bacteria in saline implants is extremely low, and virtually nonexistent after the use of closed fill systems became routine about 20 years ago. Surgery to replace the implants has a low risk.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 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.