Is There a Risk in Using the Original Implant for a Correction to an Infected Breast?

Hi, I had breast augmentation on 1/2/12 and quickly developed a MRSA staph infection. My surgeon put me on an antibiotic that got rid of the infection in a few weeks, but the infected breast developed capsular contracture and now the he is going to do a second surgery to fix it. He said that I could either put the same implant back in or pay for a new implant to be used. Should I be worried about the original implant still having an infection on it and causing more complications? Thank you!

Doctor Answers 12

Using the Original Implant for a Correction to an Infected Breast

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Sorry to hear about your complications. Yes, you should use a new implant. The greater question is whether you should remove the implant from the infected breast and wait or do the exchange immediately. In person exam and consultation would be necessary to answer this question.

Breast implants after infection

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Thanks for your question -

Any infection (especially MRSA - an infection that is resistant to many antibiotics) can be challenging for a breast augmentation patient and capsular contracture is a common post-infection issue.


Most plastic surgeons would advocate switching the implant for a new one.  Some might even advocate doing the procedure in stages.  The concern is residual bacteria or "microfilm" on the implant that puts you at significantly higher risk for recurrent capsular contracture.


I hope this helps!

Capsule contracture after infection

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There is a possibility that your capsule contracture could recurr after any type of procedure.  Using a new implant would lessen the chance as would completely removing the capsule (total capsulectomy) or moving the implant to a new site, either under the muscle or fascia.  An addition consideration to lower the chance of recrrence would be to add an acellular dermal matrix (stattice), but this significantly adds to the cost.  In the long run, the additional cost may be less than the total costs if the capsule should recurr.

Leonard T. Yu, MD
Maui Plastic Surgeon

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Is There a Risk in Using the Original Implant for a Correction to an Infected Breast?

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Sorry to hear of your problem with the infection. It is quite rare but happens occasionally. I think good judgement would dictate that you get a new implant. You need to reduce all possible chance of this problem repeating itself. Several studies have shown that bacteria can still be present on the implant but not clinically active. There are mixed feelings regarding the treatment of an infection in an augmented breast.  Many of us remove the implant in the presence of an  infection since it is quite uncommon to prevent recurrence of infectionn at worst, or the development of a tight capsular contracture otherwise, and then place a new implant at a later date when the tissues are healed and soft and back to normal. It sounds like you have done well as far as not getting a repeat infection, so go with the new implant to further help prevent that from happening. It isn't likey to happen  but ask your surgeon to request the manufacturer give him a new implant for you at no charge. You never know until you ask. Or the surgeon may be able to provide you with a new implant at cost, depending an the situation.

Using original Implant in revision?

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It would be poor judgement to use the same implant. Resterilizing it in an autoclave could weaken the shell making it more prone to failure. Use a new implant.

Reuse implant

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there is no way to know for sure if reusing the old implant will increase the risk of further problems, but why risk it?  I would definitely not use an implant again if it was involved in a case that became infected. It should be discarded and a new one used.

Is There a Risk in Using the Original Implant

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GREAT question! In your case only a new implant should be used in my opinion. But that is me. And Yes you are responsible for costs of implant. Sorry for your issues. 

Capsule and implant

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If you developed a capsulate contracture, then it is probably best to remove the implant, and capsule and place a new implant.  SOme would recommend staging it, some would also recommend strattice for recurrent capsules.

Capsular Contracture After Wound Infection

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A new implant is the only way to be certain that you are not replacing the old bacteria that caused the capsule in the first place.  Most surgeons would also do a complete removal of the scar tissue to eliminate any small residue of bacteria that could create an inflammatory stimulus of a capsule.

Capsule contracture, infection, and new implants

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Capsule contracture is excessive scar tissue buildup secondary to prolonged inflammation or in your case an infection.  Secondary to both your history of infection as well as to your current capsule contracture I would recommend using a new implant.  Although you may be able to get away with using the old implant you would really not want to risk a recurrence of the infection or of the capsule contracture.  Depending on what your plastic surgeon see's when he/she gets in there he/she might want to consider:

-full capsulectomy

-new implant

-temporary drain.

All the best,

Remus Repta, MD

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 170 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.