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Breast implant displacement is one reason women seek revision surgery after a BA. Displacement (or malposition) is when the implant moves away from where it should be.
Implants can end up in the wrong place… upwards, inwards, outwards, downwards or the wrong way round.
1. High riding
Implants placed under the muscle (submuscular) often start off higher up your chest than their final resting position. This is because the muscle is squeezing them. When things start to relax and settle (drop and fluff) the implants should move down in to the breast pocket.
If your breast implants have not dropped or settled and continue to sit high on your chest a few months after your surgery they’re said to be “riding high”. It’s most often due to the inframammary fold, or breast crease, not being released adequately.
Too close together
If breast implants displace and migrate inward toward the breastbone it results in development of a “uniboob”, also called Symmastia.
It can happen any time after surgery but it’s one of the rarer BA complications. It’s usually caused by over-dissection of the breast pocket and/or projection of implants that are too wide for your body.
Too far apart
When an implant moves away from the center of your chest it’s most often obvious when you’re lying down as they drop into your armpits. This is lateral displacement.
The most common causes are when the breast pocket is cut too wide at the sides, when implants placed under the muscle get pushed to the sides by the chest muscles (over time), and stretching tissues (over time).
All women with implants will experience some side slippage of their breasts to the sides when they lie down. This is totally normally, and happens because your tissues stretch with the weight of the implants. No one can predict how much your tissues will stretch. If they stretch too much (it’s down to the strength of your tissues – which gets less as we age) then your implants will slip to the sides more when you lie down.
4. Bottoming out
Too far down
If your implants drop too low they ‘bottom out’. Bottoming out creates an unnatural look to the breasts and happens most often when the implants are too large for your body.
A round implant can turn around in your breast all it wants and it will look the same shape. BUT an anatomical (aka ‘shaped’, aka ‘teardrop’) implant is designed to sit inside your breasts in a certain way to give you a natural breast shape. So you don’t want it turning upside down!
The risk of rotation with the current generation of shaped, form-stable, highly cohesive silicone gel breast implants is minimal. Shaped implants are always textured, which helps your body ‘stick’ to them and keep them in place.
Implants that move away from where they should be is a cosmetic complication. As in, they won’t cause you any harm but you may be unhappy with the look of your breasts if your implants displace.
There are several factors that can affect the position of implants after surgery. They’re mainly linked to surgical skill and the size of the implant. By picking an experienced Board Certified surgeon and knowing about the types of displacement you’ll be in the best place to avoid these cosmetic complications of a BA.