Breast implants must be made of medical-grade materials, so it’s rare for contamination to occur. Find out more about the situations in which contamination can occur, and how to reduce your risk.
As a medical device that’s placed within your body, breast implants are subject to strict standards as far as sterilization and materials used, to reduce the risk of contamination, rejection or infection. But even with the most thorough and careful surgical techniques, there are opportunities for implant contamination to occur. Infected breast implants can lead to capsular contracture, one of the most common implant complications, when the scar tissue builds around the implant and creates hardened, malformed breasts.
Here’s how to reduce your risk of developing an infection or other complication with your breast implants.
Ask your doctor his strategies for avoiding implant contamination. Find out if he’s ever had a patient develop contaminated or infected breast implants, and what techniques he uses to reduce the risk. Your doctor will likely take the breast implants out of the sterile packaging only right before implantation, and only touch them himself to minimize the opportunities for infection—or use the “Keller Funnel,” a new surgical tool that allows plastic surgeons to insert breast implants into the incision without ever touching them.
Follow all pre-operative instructions. Your doctor may recommend avoiding shaving your underarms for a week or two before your surgery to avoid the possibility of infection through ingrown hairs, and bathing thoroughly with an antibacterial soap the morning of the surgery.
Find out how your saline implants will be filled. In the past, many surgeons used an “open” filling technique, which used sterile saline solution that was in an open basin to fill the implants. That subjected the saline to the open air, though, and resulted in some implants becoming contaminated with fungus.
In most cases the fungus did not result in illness—but obviously, fungus-filled implants are not something you want in your body. Today, most surgeons use a closed method of filling saline implants, so the sterile saline goes right from a sterile bag into the sterile implant, resulting in no possibility of getting a fungus or other contaminant from the air.
Take antibiotics as directed by your doctor. Many plastic surgeons prescribe antibiotics to their patients—some even start before the surgery happens. This will help the body fight off any bacteria or other foreign contaminants that may enter the body during surgery.
Contaminated breast implants are a very rare occurrence—but you and your doctor can take a number of steps to help minimize the chances that you develop these complications from your implant surgery.