FAQs: Saline Breast Implants – Breast Augmentation

Bacteria and Infection with Saline Breast Implants - Is it possible?

According to John B. Tebbetts, M.D., the post-operative infection rate of surgical placement of a saline implant is estimated at less than 2%. This rate is the same as the expected infection rate of any "clean" surgery as well and is documented in existing surgical literature.

There is no valid scientific evidence to substantiate highly publicized-media reports that saline-filled implants are susceptible to fungal contamination. It should be noted that the independent Canadian laboratory that released this finding relied heavily on implant specimens obtained by mail. Making reliable microbiologic determinations on breast implants that have been transported great distances with unknown handling sterility is simply not possible given the obvious likelihood of contamination. It is not known if the devices in question were early-model implants filled with DEXTRAN, a carbohydrate solution whose use was discontinued when it became apparent that DEXTRAN did support fungal growth. The laboratory has acknowledged in writing that the devices in question were not made by manufacturers that are currently making breast implants.

Using special testing methods, microscopic non-pathogens (e.g., staphylococcus epidermis) have been found on the surface of implanted devices. These bacteria are not peculiar to breast implants as they have been found on the surface of other implanted devices as well. To date, no clinical significance of this microflora has been determined. However, some observers have suggested that these organisms may serve as a co-factor in the pathogenesis of capsular contracture - this theory continues to be studied.

This FAQ provided by John B. Tebbetts, M.D. 

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