Why Do Breast Implants Hurt?

Breast augmentation surgery, which involves the use of breast implants, is a popular cosmetic procedure that is done to enhance the size and shape of a woman’s breasts. While it can deliver the desired aesthetic outcome for many individuals, it is important to be aware of potential complications that can arise, including breast implant-related pain or discomfort. In this article, we will discuss some of the various factors that can contribute to breast implant pain or discomfort and when there is cause to be concerned.

What Can Cause Breast Implants To Hurt And Cause Pain?

While most individuals do not have any issues with their breast implants, there are some situations that can arise that can cause discomfort or pain including:

Trauma From Surgery
During breast augmentation surgery, the breast tissue and underlying muscles are manipulated to accommodate the implants, causing surgical trauma that can result in localized pain, tenderness, and discomfort. The severity and duration of pain can vary from person to person and usually subside as the healing process progresses.
Capsular Contracture
Capsular contracture is a common complication that occurs when scar tissue forms around the breast implant, causing the surrounding tissue to tighten and compress the implant. This can lead to pain, firmness, and distortion of the breast shape.

Pain may be constant or may only occur during or after certain activities. Your breast implants may hurt after exercise, while stretching, or your breast implants may hurt when you sleep on your side, etc. Some women say their breast implants hurt when they lay on them. Pain from these different scenarios may range from mild discomfort, which is intermittent, to severe discomfort, which may require surgical intervention to address in some cases.

Implant Rupture or Leakage
Although rare, implant rupture or leakage can occur with both saline and silicone implants. When a rupture happens, it may cause pain, tenderness, swelling, and changes in breast shape or size. Silicone gel leakage from silicone implants may induce localized pain due to the inflammatory response it triggers. If your breast implants hurt, you need to contact your doctor to find out if you may have an issue. Prompt medical attention is essential if implant rupture is suspected to prevent potential complications.
Infections are not common but can occur following breast augmentation surgery, leading to pain, redness, swelling, and warmth around the implant site. In severe cases, an infection can cause abscess formation and severe pain. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics or implant removal, are crucial to preventing further complications.
Nerve Damage
Breast augmentation surgery involves incisions and manipulation of tissues, which can result in nerve damage. Nerves responsible for sensation in the breast area may be affected, leading to altered or heightened sensitivity, pain, or numbness. Nerves that have been stretched out can cause inflammation, which can produce numbness similar to what it feels like when your leg or hand falls asleep. Once this swelling begins to subside, the nerves start to become active again and begin to send out signals that feel like shooting pains (often referred to as zingers). In most cases, nerve-related pain subsides gradually as the nerves heal over time.
Muscle Pain and Spasms
Implants placed beneath the chest muscle (submuscular placement) can sometimes cause muscle pain and spasms. Particularly when the muscles are strained or during physical activity, the pressure the implant places on the muscle fibers can be uncomfortable. Physical therapy, muscle relaxants, and lifestyle modifications can help manage this type of pain.
Tissue Stretching and Tension
The introduction of breast implants can cause stretching and tension in the breast tissues as they adjust to the increased volume. This stretching can lead to pain, tightness, and discomfort. The severity and duration of these symptoms vary among individuals and tend to diminish as the tissues adapt and heal.
Breast Implant Displacement
Breast implant displacement refers to the shifting or movement of breast implants from their original position within the breast pocket. It can occur for various reasons, such as repeated compression of the pectoral muscles, trauma, inadequate tissue support, capsule contracture, or changes in weight or breast tissue over time. Depending on the root cause, breast implant displacement can cause discomfort or pain and require surgical correction.

There are different types of breast implant displacement, including:

  • Bottoming out which occurs when the implant descends below the natural crease line of the breast, resulting in a lower breast position and an unnatural appearance.
  • Lateral displacement occurs when the implant moves toward the side of the chest, causing a wider spacing between the breasts or an asymmetrical appearance.
  • Medial displacement, where the implant shifts toward the center of the chest, potentially causing the breasts to appear close together or creating an unnatural cleavage.
  • Double bubble: This occurs when the implant drops below the natural breast fold, creating a second visible fold or line along the lower part of the breast.

FAQs About Breast Implant Pain or Discomfort

1. Do breast implants hurt when they get cold? Can they freeze?

Breast implants are either filled with saline or silicone and housed inside a silicone capsule. If you spend a lot of time in extreme heat or cold, you may be wondering how this may affect your breast implants.

The temperature of breast implants may fluctuate slightly in temperature when exposed to extreme heat or cold; however, these slight variations are nothing to be concerned about and will not cause pain.

Breast implants that are placed under the muscle are less likely to experience temperature fluctuations that are noticeable. If the implants are located nearer to the skin’s surface and you are out sunbathing, your implants may feel a few degrees warmer than the rest of your body, and they may feel a few degrees cooler if you are out in the cold.

Silicone breast implants that are outside of the body will not freeze, and saline will not freeze unless they reach a temperature of below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Once implanted, your natural body temperature of 98.6 degrees will prevent saline breast implants from freezing during wintertime sledding, skating, skiing, etc. If your body temperature drops low enough to allow the saline in your breast implants to freeze, you will have more to worry about than your chesticles.

2. Can breast implants be damaged in a fall or accident and cause pain?

Breast implants are made to be extremely durable and will not be easily damaged by a simple fall or daily activity. There have been instances of implant rupture due to auto accidents, severe trauma, or the deployment of airbags. Breast implant pain due to a fall or accident would be more related to contusions or trauma from the impact and would occur at the time of the accident.

In the event of a ruptured saline implant, the saline would spill out, posing no risk to the patient, but the breast would flatten out fairly quickly. If the shell of a silicone implant were to rupture, the breast would not instantly go flat because the gel would not quickly leak but gradually seep out. If you are in an auto accident or another type of serious accident that creates trauma to the breast area, you should contact your doctor right away. An MRI would be able to determine if you have a ruptured implant that needs to be repaired.

Dr. Angelina Postoev, a triple board-certified cosmetic surgeon with SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics, conducted a few experiments to see how well breast implants would hold up. Watch and see!


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Publication from Angelina Postoev (@surgicarearts)


View this post on Instagram


Publication from Angelina Postoev (@surgicarearts)

3. What is breast implant illness (BII)?

Breast implant illness (BII) is a term used to describe a range of symptoms that some individuals with breast implants report experiencing. These symptoms can include fatigue, cognitive issues (“brain fog”), joint and muscle pain, rashes, and various other systemic symptoms. Some individuals also attribute symptoms like autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia to breast implants.

Dr. Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, a rheumatologist, presented his research on breast implant illness (BII) and its potential association with autoimmune symptoms at an FDA meeting that took place in 2019. Dr. Tervaert’s research focused on evaluating the possible link between breast implants, particularly textured implants, and the development of autoimmune disorders. He discussed his findings regarding these immune-mediated reactions and systemic symptoms experienced by some patients with breast implants.

BII has not become an “official” medical diagnosis; however, it is a real condition that normally resolves very quickly once the implants are removed. The FDA and other medical professionals continue research on this condition and others related to “foreign body” implantation.

Recognizing Potential Issues With Breast Implants Can Ensure Timely Treatment

While breast implant-related pain is a potential complication following augmentation surgery, it is important to note that most individuals will not experience significant discomfort.

Understanding the various causes of pain associated with breast implants can help individuals make informed decisions and seek appropriate and timely medical advice if necessary.

Where Can I Learn More About Breast Implants In Atlanta, GA?

Contact SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics for more information on the different types of breast implants and how they may benefit your aesthetic goals.

Our team of qualified experts is available to answer your questions and provide you with everything you need to know about breast implant options and surgery. Many of our patients undergo a breast augmentation during a mommy makeover to rejuvenate their bodies after pregnancy and breastfeeding have taken their toll.

Set up a consultation with SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics today and let us create a customized plan of treatment for you so your aesthetic dreams can become a reality.

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