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What are the risks of getting breast implants after breast cancer?

Breast implants will not lead to an increased risk of cancer recurrence, and they are not dangerous after having a cancer operation. The FDA issued a report recently which did not show any relationship between implants and connective tissue disease. The report did state that implants placed for cosmetic purposes have a 20-30% chance of rupture at 10yrs and implants placed for cancer operations have a 40-50% chance of rupture at 10 yrs. There are no reports stating that implants increase the risk of recurrence.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

The risk of getting either recurrent breast cancer or autoimmune disease is very unlikely after reconstruction with implants. In November 2006, the FDA reapproved Silicone gel implants for both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery patients over the age of 22. Patients with silicone gel implants should have a MRI at least every 3 years. There is No increased risk of silicone gel implants causing breast cancer. Extracapsular rupture of the silicone may however cause migration to the axillary lymph nodes and other lymphatic structures throughout the body. 

The risks of getting breast implants after breast cancer typically include failure of the implant, infection of the implant, and breakdown of overlying skin. While these are rare, we always discuss them with patients so they understand the long-term risks. In addition, other therapies like radiation can have risks such as capsular contracture, where capsules around the implants become hard and painful. Change in shape can also occur. That's why we always follow patients long-term to monitor not only the chance of recurring cancer but also changes in implants. I like to tell my patients that implants can be a good choice for reconstruction, but they’re not lifelong devices.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.