Implant Displacement: Are You at Risk?
Implant displacement — when your breast implant slips from its original and desired position — can occur after your breast augmentation surgery or months down the road.
Implant displacement may be caused by the effects of gravity, capsular contracture, poor healing, surgical error or the mere weight of your breast implants. It may be accompanied by discomfort and/or distortion in breast shape.
Implant Displacement: Size Matters
A cubic centimeter (CC) is the metric volume measurement used to define the capacity of a breast implant. One CC equals a milliliter, which is the volume measurement used in the medical world. Breast implant sizes run the gamut from 120cc to 850cc. In general, breast implants larger than 500 cc are more likely to become displaced than smaller implants.
Saline breast implants tend to weigh more than silicone breast implants, and as a result may be more likely to shift downward. Implant placement can sometimes play a role in risk of displacement.
What does implant displacement look like?
Implant displacement can take many forms. Your breast implant may migrate into your armpits. This is known as lateral displacement. (Don't be alarmed if your breast implants fall into your armpit when you are lying on your back. This is normal. All breasts usually fall towards the armpit when you are in a supine position.)
Your breast implant may also shift downward. This is known as "bottoming out." Your implants may also move toward one another and touch over the midline of your chest, which is referred to as synmastia or more informally as "uniboob." Breast implants may also ride high on your chest.
Your nipple will point the direction opposite from where your implant has displaced. If your implant heads north, your nipple will point south.
Preventing Implant Displacement
The best way to prevent implant displacement is to avoid implants that are too large for your frame. Wearing an appropriate bra can reduce the likelihood of implant displacement. See our article on bra-shopping tips. Discuss your risk of implant displacement with a board-certified plastic surgeon during your consultation.
Implant Displacement: Will You Need More Surgery?
Sometimes implant displacement is barely noticeable and won't require any treatment. In other cases, revision breast augmentation surgery may be needed to move the implant back to where it is supposed to be. Some surgeries may involve making the pocket around the implant smaller. In addition, some breast surgeons may opt to use tissue substitutes such as Alloderm or Strattice to reinforce the capsule so that the implant stays in place.