Breast Implant Displacement: 5 Different Types

Breast implant displacement is one reason women seek revision surgery after a breast augmentation. Displacement (or malposition) is when the breast implant moves away from where it should be.

Breast Implant Displacement

Breast implants can end up in the wrong place... upwards, inwards, outwards, downwards or the wrong way round.

1. High riding Breast Implant Displacement

Too high

Breast 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.

Breast Implant Displacement

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.

2. Symmastia Breast Implant Displacement

Too close together

If breast implants displace and migrate inward toward the breastbone it results in development of a "uniboob", also called Symmastia.

symmastia breast implant complication

It can happen any time after surgery but it's one of the rarer breast augmentation complications. It's usually caused by over-dissection of the breast pocket and/or projection of implants that are too wide for your body.

3. Lateral Breast Implant Displacement

Too far apart

When a berast 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.

Breast Implant Displacement

The most common causes are when the breast pocket is cut too wide at the sides, when breast implants placed under the muscle get pushed to the sides by the chest muscles (over time), and stretching tissues (over time).

All women with breast 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 breast 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 Breast Implant Displacement

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 breast implants are too large for your body.

Breast Implant Displacement Bottoming Out

5. Rotating Breast Implant Displacement

Upside down

A round breast implant can turn around in your breast all it wants and it will look the same shape. BUT an anatomical (aka 'shaped', aka 'teardrop') breast 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!

Breast Implant Displacement Rotation

The risk of rotation with the current generation of shaped, form-stable, highly cohesive silicone gel breast implants is minimal. Shaped breast implants are always textured, which helps your body 'stick' to them and keep them in place.


Breast 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 breast augmentation.


Thoughts from Dr. Michelle Roughton

Displacement of the implant is fairly rare and if it happens it's usual technique-related.

For that reason, we are very careful to use a meticulous technique when placing the implant. If there are factors that may cause you to be a higher risk for one of these issues, that is something that should certainly be discussed in your consultation and pre-op.

We tend not to use shaped implants for several reasons, but one of the advantages of round implants is that if they do happen to rotate there is no impact on the appearance of your breast.