Breast Animation

Breast animation is a common complication of subpectoral breast reconstructions. Breast implants are frequently placed under the pectoral muscles to give a more natural appearance and ensure that the weight of the implant has the proper support to avoid additional strain on the patient’s skin. However, contractions of the pectoralis muscles can cause the underlying implant to shift, and cause an unnatural movement of the entire breast. This condition is also called breast animation deformity (BAD), dynamic breast deformity, and jumping breast syndrome.(1) Apart from the alarming movement of the breast, this can also lead to rippling and to changes in the nipple-areolar complex. For women that have already endured so much, this can seem like an unjust outcome. 

If you’re dismayed by noticeable movement in your breasts after a breast reconstruction, you’re not alone. This condition has been documented extensively, and a recent review of clinical studies found that it occurs in 75% – 100% of women that undergo subpectoral breast reconstructions, and 80% of women with animation have moderate to severe cases.(2)  

Dr. Michael Howard is a board-certified plastic surgeon and a leading expert on breast reconstruction, and has performed over 10,000 procedures. He’s dedicated this experience and compassionate approach to helping women reclaim their bodies and feel their very best. If you’re experiencing breast animation, you have options. Make an appointment for a personal consultation with Dr. Howard at his offices in Lake Forest, Chicago, or Glenview, Illinois. Call (224) 271-4250 or fill out a convenient online form to get started. 

About Breast Animation

Women should be able to celebrate and enjoy the results of their breast reconstructions. Breast implants let women reclaim their femininity and identity, and even reward themselves with a well-deserved boost in size and shape. After winning the battle with breast cancer and recovering from their reconstruction, breast animation deformity can present yet another heartbreaking challenge. Breast animation has recently become a medical concern due to its frequent occurrence, and because surgeons so often place implants under the pectoral muscles. In fact, subpectoral implant placement is considered standard because of the many complications that can arise from simply placing the implant under potentially compromised breast tissue during a reconstruction. 

Surgeons choose to place implants under the muscle to avoid seroma, or the buildup of fluids, infection, and implant loss – when an implant must be removed due to complications. (2) It also greatly reduces the risk of capsular contracture, another uncomfortable or even painful condition that can affect the aesthetics of the breast and that requires implant removal to resolve. 

Pectoral Musculature

The pectoral muscles are a fan-shaped group of muscles that connect to the upper arm, the ribs, and the oblique muscles. They allow us to move our arms, shoulders, and chest.(3) They also offer a convenient means of support for an implant. However, because of the complex range of movement that these muscles control, the contraction of this set of muscles can cause the underlying implant to move as well. This is because after the implant has been placed, the pectoral muscle becomes attached to the overlying skin. When the muscle contracts, both the implant and the skin move with the muscle.(4) 

The Impact of Breast Animation

Breast animation can be particularly bothersome for active women, such as athletes and dancers. In addition to unnatural movement of the breast and other unwanted aesthetic effects, breast animation can also be painful and cause significant deformities. Studies have shown that nearly half of women with breast animation deformity would have liked to know their alternatives to avoid this unfortunate complication.(5) 

Women that have had breast augmentations with implants placed subpectorally can also experience breast animation, but the percentage that does is significantly lower: only 15%.(2) In another study of women experiencing breast animation after breast reconstruction, nearly all of the patients were bothered by breast animation, and nearly half reported that this condition affected them on a daily basis, and affected them emotionally and psychologically. (5)

Candidates for Breast Animation Correction

If you’re one of the many women suffering from breast animation deformity, there is a solution. The breast implants can be moved to a prepectoral location during a revision surgery. Once the implants are above the muscle, breast animation is resolved. Unfortunately up to 28% of women who have undergone a breast reconstruction are forced to pursue a revisionary surgery due to animation deformity.(5) However, not all women are candidates for this surgery. Whether the implant can be placed securely depends on the details of your mastectomy and the condition of the remaining tissue in the area. It’s important to consult with an experienced surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction so that you have access to an expert opinion, an effective surgical revision, and optimal results. 

Dr. Howard was voted a Castle Connolly Top Doctor by his peers, published prolifically, and has received numerous other awards for his work. His extensive experience in aesthetic and reconstructive breast procedures gives patients every advantage and confidence when making the decision to undergo surgery. To learn more about the procedures that Dr. Howard performs and his commitment to breast health, follow his blog. 

Personal Consultation

During your personal consultation with Dr. Howard, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your concerns, ask questions, and learn more about the available options for resolving breast animation. He will review the details of your operative report, perform a breast examination, and analyze the results of other diagnostic imaging in order to formulate a successful surgical approach. If Dr. Howard feels that you are a good candidate for revision surgery and that he will be able to achieve a satisfactory outcome, we will schedule your procedure and give you instructions on how to prepare for surgery. 

If you’re ready to resolve your breast animation, take the first step and schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard. He has offices located in Glenview, Lake Forest, and Chicago. You can reach any of these locations and make an appointment by calling (224) 271-4250.


Your revision surgery will be performed under general anesthesia administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. During this procedure, Dr. Howard will remove the implant, repair the pectoral muscles, and create a new breast pocket in the subcutaneous plane above the muscle. If necessary, he will perform a capsulectomy to remove the layer of scar tissue that has formed around the breast implant, and use other reconstructive techniques to ensure that the implant has the necessary support in its new location. Research has shown that this procedure successfully resolves breast animation deformity and has very low complication rates.(2) 


Recovery from breast animation correction will be similar to your recovery from your original reconstruction surgery. Dr. Howard’s patients have the additional advantage of Northwestern Medicine’s enhanced recovery program (ERP) pathway. This specialized program gives patients detailed information so that they can recover safely, quickly, and feel confident about their progress. Knowing what to expect eliminates worry and uncertainty. The Northwestern ERP will also include an extensive recovery timeline which includes the following things

  • What to expect following your surgery
  • Detailed guidance to help you heal and regain strength
  • Advice for caring for your incisions as they heal
  • What activities can be safely performed
  • When you can resume specific routines 
  • Pain management advice
  • Doctor contact information for follow-up care (5)


Dr. Howard has helped thousands of his patients navigate the complexities of breast reconstruction following mastectomy. He empowers patients with breast animation to regain their confidence and provides expert advice when you need it most. His incorporation of the Northwestern ERP into his patients’ individual treatment plans and his commitment to providing individualized treatment mean that he can simultaneously provide professional care, with a personalized touch.

Cost of Breast Animation Correction in Lake Forest, IL

Individual treatment plans vary in cost according to your needs. Dr. Howard will work with you to create the best strategy to rid you of the difficulties of breast animation so you can gain strength and confidence and continue with your life following breast reconstruction. Call (224) 271-4250 or make an appointment online at your convenience.


Are there other names for breast animation?

Breast animation is sometimes described using the acronym BAD (breast animation deformity). Some people may refer to it as jumping breast syndrome or dynamic breast deformity.

How do I know if I have breast animation?

Breast animation can occur when the pectoralis muscles are flexed and the implant and skin move with the muscle, causing a distorted aesthetic effect. It can cause the breast to look different, unnatural, and may be uncomfortable. Without treatment, breast animation can cause significant deformities.

Can breast animation happen to someone who hasn’t had breast reconstruction?

Breast animation occurs in some women who have had subpectoral reconstructive surgery of the breast following mastectomy. It may also affect some women with low body fat who have similarly placed implants but who have never had reconstructive surgery.


  1. Dyrberg DL, Gunnarsson GL, Bille C, Sørensen JA, Thomsen JB. A simple clinical assessment of breast animation deformity following direct-to-implant breast reconstruction. Archives of Plastic Surgery. 2019;46(06):535-543. doi:10.5999/aps.2019.00493
  2. Salibian AA, Frey JD, Karp NS. Strategies and considerations in selecting between subpectoral and prepectoral breast reconstruction. Gland Surgery. 2019;8(1):11-18. doi:10.21037/gs.2018.08.01
  3. Baig MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Pectoral Muscles. PubMed. Published 2022.
  4. Holland MC, Lentz R, Sbitany H. Surgical Correction of Breast Animation Deformity with Implant Pocket Conversion to a Prepectoral Plane. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2020;145(3):632-642. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000006590
  5. Fracol M, Feld LN, Chiu WK, Kim JYS. An overview of animation deformity in prosthetic breast reconstruction. Gland Surgery. 2019;8(1):95-101. doi:10.21037/gs.2018.09.09
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