Why do my breast implants hurt?

Breast augmentation is a popular cosmetic surgery that enhances the size and shape of breasts. While most women have a smooth recovery without complications, some may experience pain or discomfort after their procedure. If you are experiencing breast implant pain, it’s essential to understand the possible causes and seek professional advice from a qualified plastic surgeon.

At Michael Howard Plastic Surgery, Dr. Howard understands that breast implant pain can be a distressing experience for patients. The most common reasons patients experience pain or discomfort after breast augmentation include capsular contracture, neuroma, and implant position change. Capsular contracture occurs when scar tissue forms around the implant, causing inflammation and tightening of the breast tissue, leading to pain and discomfort.

Contact Michael Howard Plastic Surgery today at (224) 271-4250 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard to address your breast implant issues.

Before and After Photos

About Implant Pain

A staggering 520,000 breast augmentation procedures occur annually. (1) And of that number, a small percentage of patients will experience chronic or acute pain due to breast implant placement. Cosmetic breast surgeries, such as breast augmentation or augmentation with lift (mastopexy), can cause issues that present in a similar way to post-mastectomy pain syndrome and therefore have similar symptoms. (1) These may include:

  • Unexplained chest discomfort
  • Pain in the armpit
  • A “heavy” chest
  • Nipple discomfort
  • Shooting, or prickling pain
  • Severe itching

For more information about post-mastectomy pain, read Dr. Howard’s blog.

Reasons for Implant Pain

Capsular Contracture

One of the most common causes of implant-related pain and discomfort is capsular contracture. This condition can occur after cosmetic or reconstructive breast surgery, and involves the thickening and tightening of the natural scar tissue that naturally forms around the implant, squeezing it and causing it to feel hard and painful. In some cases, the implant may even become misshapen or distorted

Capsular contracture can occur at any time after surgery. However, research studies estimate that between 2.8% to 20.4% of patients experience capsular contracture between 5 and 10 years after breast augmentation. Additionally, up to 30% of patients may experience capsular contracture within 3 years following breast reconstruction. (2)


Seroma is a relatively common postoperative complication that can occur after breast augmentation surgery. It typically develops within the first few weeks after surgery and can cause discomfort and swelling. Fortunately, it doesn’t pose a significant health risk and can be treated effectively. However, if left untreated, it can lead to the formation of scar tissue, implant displacement, or infection.

Enlarged Lymph Nodes

Enlarged lymph nodes can also cause breast implant pain and discomfort. Lymph nodes are part of the body’s immune system and help to filter out harmful substances. However, they can also become inflamed and swollen, which can put pressure on the surrounding tissues and cause pain. Enlarged lymph nodes can be caused by various factors, including infection and inflammation.

Implant Position Change

If an implant shifts position after surgery, it can cause pain and discomfort. This can occur due to trauma, improper placement, or other factors. Implant position changes can also affect the appearance of the breast, making it appear asymmetrical or distorted.

Nerve Damage

A neuroma is a nerve tumor that can develop after breast augmentation surgery. It occurs when a nerve is damaged or cut during the surgery and begins to grow abnormally. The growth can cause pain, tingling, or numbness in the affected area. Data reveals that the risk range of nerve injury after breast augmentation is between 13.6-15.4%. (3)

Ruptured Implant

Ruptured saline implants appear immediately and noticeably deflated. However, a silicone implant rupture can occur without symptoms. Patients who are experiencing capsular contracture, breast lumps, or other changes in breast shape (4) may have breast pain due to silicone implant rupture.

What is BII?

Breast implant illness (BII) is a term used to describe various symptoms that some women experience after getting breast implants. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Joint pain
  • Hair Loss
  • Brain Fog
  • Skin Rashes
  • Digestive Issues

Although there is no clear evidence linking breast implants to these symptoms, many women have reported improvement after having the implants removed. It is believed that the immune system’s response to the foreign object, the implant, may be responsible for triggering these symptoms.

Implant Removal

Breast implant revision surgery is a procedure that involves removing the breast implants from the body. The surgical options for breast implant removal will depend on several factors, including the type of implant (saline or silicone), the condition of the implant, and the amount of scar tissue present. In some cases, a simple explant procedure may be performed, while in other cases, additional procedures such as a breast lift or fat transfer may be necessary.

Implant to DIEP Flap Reconstruction

Unfortunately, for some patients, their breast reconstruction following mastectomy does not go as planned. If your breast implants are causing pain from prior reconstructive surgery, we may recommend removing the implant and replacing it with a DIEP flap, which uses tissue from your abdomen to reconstruct the breast. This technique can offer a more natural-looking result and may be preferred by patients who experience complications related to their implants or who wish to avoid future implant-related issues. Breast implant to DIEP flap revision is an excellent option for anyone seeking to improve their previous breast reconstruction results.

At our Lake Forest, Chicago, and Glenview offices we offer state-of-the-art facilities and an experienced team dedicated to providing the highest level of care for our patients. If you are considering a breast implant to DIEP flap revision, schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard at Michael Howard Plastic Surgery by calling (224) 271-4250.


Candidates for a breast implant to DIEP flap revision are women who have undergone previous breast cancer surgery or reconstruction and are now experiencing issues with their breast implants. The ideal candidate for a breast implant to DIEP flap revision is in good overall health, has realistic expectations, and is willing to undergo surgery to achieve their desired results. During a consultation with Dr. Howard, he will discuss the various surgical options available and help determine which procedure is best suited for each patient’s unique needs.

Personal Consultation

Breast reconstruction surgery and revision reconstruction are complex procedures that require careful consideration and planning. During your consultation, we will review your medical history, discuss your goals and concerns, and conduct a thorough physical examination to evaluate your current condition. If you have previously undergone breast augmentation using implants and are now considering revision surgery, we will carefully assess the implant’s status, as well as the health of the surrounding tissue.

We understand that breast cancer survivors face unique challenges, including radiation therapy, scarring, and other complications that may impact the reconstruction process. That’s why we work closely with each patient to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses their individual needs and preferences.

Cost of Breast Implant Revision Surgery in Lake Forest

The cost of breast implant revision surgery varies depending on several factors, including the type of procedure required, the extent of the surgery, and whether or not additional surgeries will be necessary. 

During your consultation with Dr. Howard, he will discuss your options and recommend the best course of action based on your individual needs and goals. He will also provide a detailed estimate of the cost of your procedure, so you know exactly what to expect.

If you’re considering breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or double mastectomy, contact us at (224) 271-4250 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard. We’re here to support you every step of the way.


My breast implants have been hurting for more than 3 months. What should I do?

If you are suffering from chronic pain as a result of cosmetic breast augmentation surgery, it is important to tell your surgeon right away. There are many reasons why you could be experiencing pain, and only a qualified surgeon can perform an examination and advise you on your next steps.

Can both saline and silicone implants be removed?

Yes, both saline and silicone implants can be removed. The procedure varies depending on the type of implant.

What are my breast reconstruction options after mastectomy?

There are several options for breast reconstruction, including implant-based reconstruction, autologous reconstruction, and tissue flap reconstruction. Your surgeon will discuss which option is best for you based on your individual circumstances.


  1. Urits I, Lavin C, Patel M, et al. Chronic Pain Following Cosmetic Breast Surgery: A Comprehensive Review. Pain and Therapy. Published online January 28, 2020. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40122-020-00150-y 
  2. Pietro Susini, Nisi G, Diletta Maria Pierazzi, et al. Advances on Capsular Contracture—Prevention and Management Strategies: A Narrative Review of the Literature. 2023;11(6):e5034-e5034. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/gox.0000000000005034 
  3. Nerve injuries in aesthetic breast surgery: systematic review and treatment options. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Published 2014. Accessed June 19, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK248220/#:~:text=The%20risk%20of%20any%20nerve 
  4. Hillard C, Fowler JD, Barta R, Cunningham B. Silicone breast implant rupture: a review. Gland Surgery. 2017;6(2):163-168. doi:https://doi.org/10.21037/gs.2016.09.12 
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