Risks

Breast reconstruction with a breast implant carries the possibility of complications, including:

  • Breasts that don't match each other in size or appearance (asymmetry)
  • Breast pain
  • Implant rupture or deflation
  • Poor healing of incisions
  • Increased risk of future breast surgery to replace or remove the breast implant
  • Changes in breast sensation
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scar tissue that forms and compresses the implant and breast tissue into a hard, unnatural shape (capsular contracture)
  • Risks associated with anesthesia
  • Very low, but increased risk of a rare immune system cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), though more research is needed to understand the relationship between ALCL and breast implants

Correcting any of these complications may require additional surgery.

If you need adjuvant radiation therapy to the skin and chest wall after a mastectomy (post-mastectomy radiation), you might not be an ideal candidate for breast implant reconstruction. Having a breast implant may make it more difficult to deliver the radiation therapy effectively, and the implant may need to be deflated. There may also be a higher risk of complications. The skin and underlying tissue may become firmer, discolored and swollen due to radiation therapy.