Could my silicone breast implant be infected after 16 years?

Yesterday I developed a very painful right breast, especially when I move e.g. roll over in bed, lift my arm in the air. The breast is bit swollen, sore, tender and the skin is pink. Codeine helps slightly. My silicone implants are 16 yo. 2 years ago the same breast was tender but ultrasound and mammogram revealed nothing and consultant said implants were in very good condition with hardly any rippling. Could I possibly have an infection as my implants were intact? Worried as going on holiday.

Doctor Answers 12

Breast infection years after an augmentation

What I tell women is that a woman (without breast surgery) can easily have pain in her breasts, and even swelling and tenderness.  Hormones, clogged ducts, cysts or fibrocystic breast tissue can all play a part.  If a woman has breast surgery, swelling and pain are obviously expected for days, weeks or months and is most likely due to the surgery.  The hard part is when a woman has pain quite some time after the surgery, because it is not always easy to differentiate whether the symptoms are associated with the breast or the implant, even with studies such as ultrasound or CT scans.  We all say "Be sure to see a plastic surgeon", which is true, but I would find it unlikely that you have developed an infection this late.  Not impossible, but unlikely.

Walnut Creek Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Late infection

Well this situation seems a bit unusual so far out. Regardless you have said several magic words which most surgeons would insist upon seeing you: tender, swelling and the redness. These should be evaluated promptly (not necessarily emergently), but certainly before your holiday. Best wishes

Kevin F. Ciresi, MD, FACS
Fresno Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Late infection?

hello! So sorry to hear you are having problems. It is very rare to have a late infection, but something is going on, and I would speak to your doctor as soon as you can.  Sometimes the breast tissue itself can have a condition called mastitis, or infection. Good luck.

Anne Taylor, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Late Onset Breast Pain/Changes


Breast pain can be caused by a number of factors which may or may not be related to your implants. I recommend that you be examined by your primary care Doctor in person before your vacation as they can investigate hormonal and tissue changes which can cause discomfort. Your Plastic Surgeon will need to see you in person as well in order to comment meaningfully.

All the best

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Silicone implants

You can have any number of things going on. The best thing for you to do is to see a plastic surgeon so that he can evaluate you.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

16 yo implants

Thank you for your question.  The best advice I can give you is to contact a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for a consult.  It is typically rare to have an infection this many years out but one of your symptoms is redness. A capsular contracture can be painful but doesn't present it self with redness.  

Chad Robbins, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Could my silicone breast implant be infected after 16 years?

Thank you for your question and I am sorry to hear of your breast symptoms. I would recommend seeing a board certified plastic surgeon for an in-person evaluation.  They can determine the presence of a possible infection or issue with your implant integrity, both of which may be leading to your current symptoms.  Though an infection is possible it is less likely this far out from surgery and without some form of trauma to the breasts.  

Nelson Castillo, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews


This could be an infection especially with a rupture or fluid around the implant.  We see this frequently in our practice as we treat complications of defective breast implants.  Sometimes this occurs after a dental cleaning or other dental work due to the bacteria in the bloodstream.  

Susan Kolb, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Needs a check

This could be an unusual late infection due to the swelling/redness and tenderness.
Possibly the earlier one was the same thing only worse now.

Keith Denkler, MD
Marin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews


Doubt that this is infection this far out.  Its more likely that you may have a leak of the old style silicone implant.  This needs to be investigated.  First step is to see a plastic surgeon in your area...preferably board certified. You might also need an MRI to look for this leak. If there is a leak..then you will need to have the implant removed and replaced.  Even if there is no leak, and you are having the symptoms you describe, you should still have them replaced.  Hope this helps. Good luck. 
Dr Vasisht

Bhupesh Vasisht, MD
Voorhees Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 83 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.