Saline Breast Implant Area Sore is It Leaking?

I had breast mastectomy due to breast cancer in 2006. The right one has been sore and I noticed a small lump (ingrown hair?) on the right side. My doctor said that it was most likely a saline breast implant leak. If it's leaking, it would be a small leak because it isn't that noticeable. I'm worried that the cancer could be back and that is what the lump is. I was just checked and was cancer free in August. Thanks.

Doctor Answers 10

Breast Implants

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If you are feeling a lump in your breast it is important for your surgeon to specifically evaluate this.  A leaking saline implant will not cause a saline "bubble" once it has leaked out because the body absorbs the saline.  The implant shell might fold on itself creating a palpable bump but your breast would likely be flatter due to loss of the saline fluid from the implant.  I would definitely recommend your surgeon examine you to workup any questionable mass.  I hope this informaiton is helpful.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Soreness after breast reconstruction--leak or return of cancer?

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Vickie, your concerns are understandable, but you need re-examination by your plastic surgeon, especially if he or she is also a fully-trained general surgeon. A quick check of the skin can determine if there is an ingrown hair, cyst, or other benign concern which is distinctly different from a cancerous lump, which would be deeper and feel different in most cases.

Leaking of your implant is another, less important, issue entirely, but one that can easily be determined by your plastic surgeon with examination. Leaking does not cause soreness or lumps, so I'm not sure why your doctor gave you this "diagnosis" except to get you to your plastic surgeon. Soreness is related more to scar capsule issues than any type of cancer recurrence, so this too requires evaluation.

If you can't arrange an appointment with your own plastic surgeon immediately, I would be willing to see you at no charge to alleviate your concerns or get you to the right people once we determine what is going on. Don't be worried until there is a definitive diagnosis to actually worry about! Best wishes!

Concerns about implant deflation causing breast pain

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If you are having symptoms and concerns including regarding a breast mass, you need to see either your plastic surgeon or another one and possibly even a general surgeon. A leaking implant will not cause pain though implant envelope folds can be locally uncomfortable - and you would typically not a decrease in size of the breast. A mass needs to be evaluated by a surgeon or plastic surgeon.

Saline implants in breast reconstruction

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An implant leak or deflation would not cause soreness or a mass. If you have a lump, then you should head straight for your general surgeon or plastic surgeon for evaluation. It could be anything from a skin cyst to an implant fold to something to be concerned about. However, your doctor's impression is incorrect and you should be evaluated and undergo whatever diagnostic procedures are recommended.

Saline Implant Leak does not cause pain

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Saline implants do not cause pain when leaking.  The saline fluid is harmless and absorbs by your body.  What you would see is deflation of the implant.

A lump in your breast should be examined by your plastic surgeon and breast surgeon.  A plastic surgeon may identify the lump as just a fold in the implant or if concerned may send you for additional investigations.


Martin Jugenburg, MD

Saline implant problems

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It is unlikely that what you are seeing is a result of a leak as this almost always leads to a noticeable deflation of a saline implant.  Your plastic surgeon and general surgeon should take a look at this again to diagnose the problem.

Lump after Breast Cancer Reconstruction Surgery

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There are several reasons for lumps after breast reconstruction surgery. It can be due to:

1. Recurrence of the cancer

2. Scar tissue formation or capsular contracture

3. Implant fold 

You should consult with your surgeon to discuss her concerns and consideration for an ultrasound evaluation of the area should be made. 

An ultrasound, MRI, mammogram or other radiographic modalities can determine if the lump appears benign or malignant. If there are any concerns either a core needle biopsy or open biopsy can be performed to accurately asses the mass and the pathologic characteristics. 

Ankit Desai, MD
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon

Sore breast after mastectomy and implant reconstruction

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Given your cancer history, I would advise you to go see your oncologist to rule out recurrence.  In a case of saline implant leakage, the implant will deflate and normally do not manifest as "soreness."  You could have a capsular contracture (scar tissue around the implant) that can cause discomfort/pain; however, it would be best to see your oncologist to give you a peace of mind.  Good luck to you.

Lumps and breast cancer

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A new lump is always a concern and you should have that checked out. As for a saline leak, the implants would deflate if they leaked.

Breasts Implant Leakage and Carcinoma Concerns?

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Thank you for the question.

Given your concerns about the potential recurrence of breast cancer,  it would be in your best interests  to follow-up with your oncology doctors  ASAP even though you did so in August. Every other concern, including the potential saline breast implant leak, should be secondary.

Hopefully after you have seen your oncology doctors you will have peace of mind and can then follow up with your plastic surgeon for evaluation of the breast implant and its integrity.

Best wishes.

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.