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Could My Breast Implants be the Cause of My Back Pain?

Published October 9, 2017
| Written By SpineNation Editorial Staff  
I never wanted them to begin with. [I] just wanted bigger breasts —now I'm feeling trapped. I just want to go back to me, but feel my body is ruined and will look horrid if I take them out.

Farrah Farmer from Fountain Valley, California wrote on a breast augmentation website.

I have a consultation in a couple weeks to discuss. Many people tell me how natural they look etc. And that there's nothing wrong with them, they're not ruptured etc. But psychologically, I don't feel real. I don't feel me! I'm so sad and feel like there's no going back.

I am in a deep hole right now and just don't know what to do. I'm on my third major back injury from what I feel are [from] these breast implants. The last mammogram I had apparently ruptured the capsules around my breast implants and that hurt like you wouldn't believe for at least two months.

Farmer received mentor cohesive gel 350 ccs under the muscle. Ever since the surgery 6 years ago, she's had severe back pain that requires constant physical therapy, chiropractic care, etc.

I know my posture has changed from having larger breasts, but I'm not that large. I was a 34B.

Ironically my breasts now feel fairly soft as a result of what was essentially a closed capsulotomy from the mammogram incident! I continue to have upper back pain and am in physical therapy.

I'm convinced my implants [are] pulling on my pec muscle. My physical therapist thinks that the implants and the back pain are highly correlated, but my PS (primary surgeon) said that [it] has nothing to do with my implants.

Does anyone else have thoughts on back pain being caused by implants?

I've had consultations for [an] explant. The first one said I would probably get some relief — the second one said I was a very knowledgeable patient. She thinks my shoulder pain and my lats will feel a lot better once I take them out.

Let's examine how her other consultations went to see if the implants are the perpetrator of her back pain.

Doctor #1

Burton M. Sundin, M.D. of Richmond Plastic Surgeon explained, "It is true that large implants, typically larger than 400-500 ccs, can eventually lead to back and neck issues, similar to those caused by naturally large breasts. However, it is unusual for these types of issues to appear immediately after surgery.”

He recommended Farmer to schedule an appointment with her primary care doctor to check out whether she has an unrelated back injury, as well as a follow up with her plastic surgeon to make certain she's healing properly.

Doctor #2

Farbod Esmailian, M.D. of Orange County Plastic Surgeon revealed, "It is unlikely that it is the weight of the implants causing your back issues. However, having breast implants can at times affect your posture which may lead to the back discomfort.

"Physical therapy is a good start. You really won't know if the implants are the culprit unless you have them removed."

And at that point, he wants to rule other issues such an anatomical problems with her spine before venturing down the path of removal.

Esmailian suggests consulting with her plastic surgeon in person to see if he/she has any recommendations.

Doctor #3

Otto Joseph Placik, M.D. of Chicago Plastic Surgeon said, "I have seen it in my own practice that after breast surgery, patients tend to protect their chest by rolling their shoulders forward."

A patient's sleep positioning is also compromised due to sleeping upright or with minimal movement or turning. Muscles tend to be tight and this can cause back pain.

"You have the right idea seeking physical therapy," Placik added. "If you do not see an improvement, you should see your PCP (primary care physician) for further evaluation and screening to determine the cause of your back pain."

The only way to know for sure is to have the implants removed. Breast implant removal should be performed with complete en bloc capsulectomy.

We will let Dr. Nicholas Tarola of Tarola Plastic Surgery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, show you what that means.

A capsulectomy or breast implant replacement is the removal of the scar tissue (capsule) that forms around any prosthetic implant. After implantation of any foreign prosthesis, the body forms scar tissue around it encapsulating it.

In patients who believe that their implants are causing them illness, leaving the capsule behind will not result in any improvement in their symptoms.

The capsule should not be left in place or the space will not heal.

After you heal from the capsulectomy, you can then develop a plan for further surgery, if it is warranted and is safe from a technical standpoint.

To Farrah and others, to evaluate all concerns on if back pain may or may not be related to breast implants an examination is really needed. If you are experiencing severe back pain that just won't go away, make a face-to-face appointment with your doctor right away. 

Updated: November 27, 2019

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