Pain and Itching from Saline Breast Implants

Hi, I have had a number of problems with my left breast over the past year. I have 8 year old saline filled implants. I started developing a lot of pain that can not be explained by the two plastic surgeons that I have gone to see.

My newest development is that I have a constant itch underneath my left breast. I am desperate for an answer. I do not want to remove them as I am only 29 years old and fear the outcome, but I grow so weary of the constant problems. Thanks for your help.

Doctor Answers 5

Likely a Nerve Issue

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Pain and itching are both "pains." Meaning that itching is a sensation that is conducted by pain nerve fibers. So both are connected. Although rarely done now days, occasionally implants are placed totally submuscularly. This means that the serratus anterior muscle is elevated and then sutured to the pectoralis muscle completely covering the implant. It is rare but I have seen two patients that complained of chronic pain. We removed the implants, resutured the serratus muscle to the chest wall and the pain issue was resolved. I don't know if this is your issue but could be.

In addition I would recommend seeing a Plastic Surgeon who specializes in peripheral nerves. It may be possible to isolate the offending nerve and remove it or similar. Partial numbness might be a better alternative.

Uncommon 8 Years Post-op...

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This type of pain is unusual eight years after breast augmentation and probably isn’t related to your breast implants.The type of pain that you describe suggests inflammation or irritation of one of your sensory nerves.Both itching and the sensation of pain can occur as a result of this type of irritation.
It’s important that your symptoms be thoroughly investigated to rule out more serious problems.For instance, it would be appropriate to obtain a mammogram to rule out breast cancer.It might also be helpful to consult a dermatologist to rule out cutaneous causes of itching.
There’s a good chance that these evaluations will be negative, and no cause for your symptoms will be identified.Under these circumstance, implant removal may be an option but there’s no guarantee this will be affective.
For this reason it’s probably appropriate to consult a pain management specialist.This physician should be able to develop a treatment plan that helps minimize your pain and discomfort.

Post Augmentation Symptoms

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Dear Jai, your symptoms are unususal but need to be attended to. Have you had a mammogram? is there any changes in the skin color, swelling or lumps in your axilla, any vesicles or small bumps on the skin, does anything make this better or worse?

Itching can be caused by local allergy- to material (bra), detergent in laundry, soaps/shampoos, bites from insects, infection, skin disease, cancer, shingles or mood disorders. if there is a nerve in the area that has been injured with the surgery in the past then this may need to be desensitised to provide relief.

You will need a further opinion or 2 in order to find out the casue and to treat your frustrating situation.

Good Luck.

With Warm Regards,

Trevor M Born MD

Trevor M. Born, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

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Check with a dermatologist also

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Pain and itching in the left breast 8 years out from implants is uncommon. There is no real evidence that your implants could be causing the itching, especially since you had no problems for the first seven years.

You need to make sure that

  • there is no breast lump or mass that is giving you the symptoms (be ch eked out by your regular doctor)
  • the itching is not related to medications or allergy to any materials (like those used in bras)

I would recommend you see your regular doctor and also ask to be referred to a dermatologist. Removing the implants may not solve your problems, but it would be the only way to remove them from the list of things that could possibly be causing your pain/itching.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Unfortunately,you could have some nerve damage in the left breast.

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Hi. Breast implants don't cause any diseases, so I would not worry from a health point of view. You do sound like you are in a lot of distress.

1) Rarely, a nerve is damaged during breast augmentation, and, very rarely, the symptoms (pain, itching, pins and needles) are permanent. Even removing the implants may not help, but this would be a last resort. I really hope this is not your situation.

2) The most common cause of pain after implants is capsular contracture. If you have this, your left breast should be harder and/or higher. This can be surgically corrected.

3) See a board certified surgeon (not a plastic surgeon) who specializes in diseases of the breasts (a breast oncologist).

4) See a board certified dermatologist.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

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.