While infection after breast implant surgery could have some devastating effects, with modern surgical techniques the complication is a rare occurrence. For this reason, leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili highlights the importance of choosing a board-certified breast augmentation surgeon.
Infection after breast augmentation surgery should be avoided, or if it were to occur, treated immediately because it is linked to capsular contracture or hardening/thickening of the scar capsule around a synthetic prosthesis.
Bacterial infection immediately after surgery often results in tenderness, persistent swelling, drainage/pus, and redness. Treatment often involves antibiotics. Take note that you must finish taking the prescribed course of these drugs to avoid reinfection caused by the surviving bacteria or the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs.
The theory is that implant contamination at the time of surgery is the most common cause of infection and its subsequent complications such as capsular contracture. To minimize such risk, the leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon will make every effort to promote absolute sterility—this usually includes the use of “no touch” technique.
In “no touch” technique, the sterile implant packaging is only opened prior to insertion. A cone-shaped device called Keller Funnel is then used to propel the implant towards the breast pocket, without actually touching the prosthesis.
To further minimize the infection risk, Dr. Smaili says many breast augmentation surgeons these days are using antibiotic irrigation to bathe the implants, pocket, and wound.
Meanwhile, one postop factor linked to infection is seroma or formation of excess fluids within the tissue. To prevent or treat this complication, some surgeons put surgical drains at the end of the incision site. This practice is more common in revisions wherein there is a perceived higher risk of fluid buildup.
Aspiration is another way to address large seromas, which is commonly performed via ultrasound-guided technique to prevent puncturing the implant shell, while small seromas, meanwhile, tend to disappear on their own without treatments, explains Dr. Smaili.
In some occasions, breast implant infection occurs years after the surgery, which is often manifested by capsular contracture (pain and hardening of the breasts). In severe cases, implant removal is always necessary, with many surgeons recommending waiting at least six months before “replacements” are used to avoid the recurrence of infection.
Some doctors recommend taking antibiotics prior to any dental procedure in an attempt to minimize risk of breast implant infection. However, there is no scientific or clinical study proving its usefulness.