Pain in a breast with a silicone implant, or more precisely, pain after breast augmentation surgery with silicone implant, can have a variety of causes. Some of these causes of pain are natural and do not require special treatment, while some others should be evaluated and treated by a physician.
Causes Of Pain In A Breast With Silicone Implant
- Tension of the breast tissue in the early stages,
- Blood accumulation (hematoma) around the silicone implant,
- Blows to the breast,
- Overstraing the arms,
- Feeling of tension due to edema during the menstrual period,
- Seroma formation around the silicone implant,
- Rupture of silicone implant
- Development of Capsular Contracture,
- Development of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.
In the hours and days after breast augmentation with silicone implants, it is normal to feel pain in the operation area, i.e. the breast. The pain becomes a bit more severe especially in cases where implants larger compared to the breast dimensions have been used or the implants have been placed in a subpectoral (submuscular) plane.
Pain worsens with arm movement. This type of pain can be managed by lying down in a semi-sitting position and taking simple pain painkillers. However, if a drain is not placed to discharge the blood and tissue fluid that will accumulate around the silicone implant during and after the surgery, the pressure of the fluid accumulated in the breast in the first few postoperative days worsens the pain.
The most important early postoperative issue of this procedure is the increasing accumulation of blood within the breast due to the disrupted integrity of a blood vessel in the breast. In this complication, known as a “hematoma,” the breast volume gradually increases in comparison to the other breast, causing severe pain. This pain cannot be managed with simple painkillers, so the patient should not try to manage it on his/her own.
It is necessary to contact the plastic surgeon who performed the surgery without delay. In cases where hematoma develops, the patient is taken under a surgical operation again, the source of the bleeding is identified and controlled, and the silicone implant is placed in its place.
People who make strenuous arm movements and those who use blood thinners or nutritional supplements such as aspirin, green tea, or vitamin E before surgery are at a higher risk of developing hematoma. Therefore, all types of blood-thinning foods, drugs, and nutritional supplements should be discontinued 15 days before the operation, and a completely natural diet should be started.
In the early postoperative period, the patient should not try to straight himself/herself up in the bed by taking support from the elbows or arms, should lie in a semi-sitting position, and should do not excessively strain on the toilet.
Infection around the silicone implant is another cause of pain. Symptoms such as pain, redness, swelling in the breast, fluid accumulation around the implant, fluid leakage from the suture line, and high fever are observed when an infection develops in the breast tissue surrounding the implant.
In the weeks after the silicone implant surgery, it is normal to feel some pain during movements that strain the arms such as heavy lifting, swimming, and playing tennis. As stated before, traumas or accidental blows to the breast may cause pain. Pain can be felt during menstruation due to edema in the breast tissues. In addition, some sensory changes such as tingling may be felt in the breast.
Seroma that can be defined as excessive fluid accumulation around the implant is one of the late complications that may cause pain in a breast with silicone implant. In such a condition that may develop weeks or years after the operation, the volume of the silicone breast increases and the breast becomes asymmetrical and pain is felt in the breast. There could be a great variety of causes of seroma.
It should definitely be evaluated by a physician. Resting and monitoring the affected arm is sometimes enough; while some other times further examination and treatment are required.
Tearing of the silicone implant or impairment of its integrity is another cause of pain in the breast. If the outer wall of the silicone implant tears due to any one of a great variety of factors, the gel-like silicone inside the implant spreads to the surrounding tissue and triggers the immune system. Such a tear may cause pain, asymmetry, seroma, or palpable mass development in the breast or armpit.
“Capsule contracture” around the silicone implant is one of the late complications causing pain in the breast. Due to a variety of factors, the membrane-shaped sheath that forms around the silicone implant becomes excessively thicker and tighter. Such a condition deforms the implant, causing pain and asymmetry in the breast. Treatment options for capsular contracture vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Another important factor that causes pain in the breast years after silicone implant surgery is the development of a specific type of lymphoma around the implant. The possibility of “Breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)” should be taken into account, although it is an extremely rare condition.
If there is gradual slow breast enlargement, pain or stiffness in the breast, redness or rash on the breast skin, a palpable mass in the breast or armpit, and seroma formation around the implant, it is necessary to consult a plastic surgeon without delay to start the necessary examinations and treatment procedures.
All individuals of any age who has undergone breast augmentation surgery with silicone implants should get routine breast screenings on a yearly basis. Breast ultrasonography and MRI examinations are the most commonly performed radiological examinations, in addition to the physical examination of a breast with silicone. In case of seroma development in the breast, a sample of the fluid should be taken and sent to the laboratory for pathological examination.
In conclusion, if you experience pain in your breast after breast augmentation surgery with silicone implant, don’t get panicked but inform the plastic surgeon who has performed the surgery.