Sharp Pain 10 Years After Saline Breast Implants

I had Saline breast implants 10 years ago. They are under my muscle and have been very happy with the results. One week ago, I began noticing a sharp pain at the base (where the bottom of your bra sits) of my breast. It can travel up towards my nipple. It is most uncomfortable when I bend over without a bra. It is more tolerable when I wear a bra. This pain is only on one breast. What would you suggest I do? What do you think it could be?

Doctor Answers 14

Breast Pain

It sounds as if this is probably from some type of activity that has caused sensitivity of a sensory nerve because the pain radiates to the nipple. That can happen from physical activity such as lifting weights or something as simple as working in the back yard. Most of the time it is difficult to determine what event was the cause. Treatment consists of using NSAIDS such as motrin (Advil), etc.

Generally, things will improve over 2-3 weeks and resolve completely thereafter. Without any other changes, pain by itself is annoying but frequently harmless and slowly improves with time. It is also possible that something else such as a capsular contacture could be starting but you would eventually determine that if the breast starts to become firm.

Occasionally, the capsule around the implant will tear or shear away from the part of the capsule that is adherent to the rib cage with activity. This can produce symptoms such as yours and in some cases can cause bleeding around the implants and later capsular contracture. Without any signs of infection, it should be reasonable to treat yourself symptomatically with an analgesic of your choice...Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, etc. Hope this helps.

Ventura Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Conservative Management & Mammography or MRI Studies for Breast Pain

It’s not unusual for patients to develop breast pain ten years after undergoing breast augmentation surgery. In the vast majority of patients this type of pain isn’t related to breast implants unless capsular contractures are present. Instead, this type of breast pain is usually related to musculoskeletal strains.

In this particular case, pain that radiated to the nipple suggests some type of strain or stretching of sensory nerves. In the vast majority of cases, conservative management is appropriate and results in resolution of symptoms. In the short term, analgesics and muscle relaxants may be appropriate as well.

If this pain fails to respond to conservative management further investigation is appropriate. In some cases this may require mammography and possibly MRI studies. Under these circumstances it’s appropriate to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Definitely have it looked at to be safe


Thank you for your question.

It is hard to say without examining you. I would definitely get a mammogram to make sure there are no suspicious findings. The pain could caused from physical activity that put too much strain on your breast. In that case, the pain should subside within a few weeks. The pain could also be linked to capsular contracture or maye even a loose pocket judging by the symptoms you described. For the last two, surgery would most likely be necessary to correct. You should see your board-certified plastic surgeon, especially if the pain is not going away.

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Can be seen in a loose capsule

I have seen a few patients for revision who felt their breasts fell too far to the side when they laid down and had some discomfort when leaning forward out of a bra. They were treated by an operation to tighten up the capsule by sewing inside and although I could never promise the pain would go away, these patients felt better after the procedure. You should make an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can examine you and give you a better idea of your options. Take care.

Dr Edwards

Michael C. Edwards, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

New Breast Pain, Old Implant Surgery

Brooke in ND:

Since you had surgery more than a year ago and have recently developed the pain, you should handle this like pain that develops in someone without implants. It probably has nothing to do with the prior surgery. (Unless your have developed a late infection or hard capsule, which would be noticible for other reasons.)

Contact your primary care physician (gynecologist, family practitioner, or internist) and schedule a breast exam. They may order any breast imaging studies they think would be helpful in their evaluation. They would ask additional questions and perform an examination. If they suspected an implant related issue they would refer you back to your plastic surgeon.

Saline implants are very safe and not likely causing your pain. Good luck.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Breast pain

 The reasons for breast pain are numerous. It is hard to give you a definitive answer without examining you. The best thing to do is see your doctor to be properly evaluated.  

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Pain after Breast Implants

Changes can be indicative of a problem, so I would encourage you to schedule a follow-up visit with your plastic surgeon to rule out infection, fluid collection, or other unexpected complication.  

Suzanne M. Quardt, MD
Palm Springs Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Not diagnosable over the internet!

Hi Brooke in ND, What should you do? Call your surgeon! Newly acquired sharp pain is not a time to consult the internet or take a "wait and see" approach. Please call your physician and go in for an exam. They have your records and know your case. THEY are the ones who are responsible for managing your care for the lifetime of your implants. Or, in my opinion, they should be. IF you have moved away or can not see them, look for a board certified plastic surgeon in your area, call and schedule an appointment, letting them know of your issue. There will likely be a charge to be seen, because you are not their patient and are not seeing the surgeon for a surgical consultation, but you need the expertise of someone who performs this procedure. Take your implant information cards and provide them with as much info as you can about your original surgery. This could be anything from nerve pain, development of capsular contracture, muscle strain after over exertion, etc. It is impossible to determine without an exam and knowing your history. 

William Aiello, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Get it checked out

This might not be associated with your implants, but you should see your surgeon just in case. You could also see your family doctor.

Leila Kasrai, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Breast Pain years after Breast Implants

Without examining you it is difficult to determine what the cause of your discomfort is.  If you have not had a very recent mammogram, I would recommend that as a good starting point.  It is possible that this discomfort could be attributed to some sort of physical activity or strain on the breast, even something as minute as lifting a heavy grocery bag.  If it is the result of some physical strain on the breast, the pain should subside within a few weeks and in the interim some ibuprofen should help.  If the pain is not subsiding, it could be indicative of a larger issue such as a capsular contracture, which would be easily determined at a follow up appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon and would require surgery to fix.  Best of luck! 

Stephen T. Greenberg, MD
Woodbury Plastic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 56 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.