Breast Implant Complications


Breast augmentation has for many years been the most common cosmetic procedure in the UK.  Despite advances in the design of implants, complications resulting from surgery can still arise.  It is estimated that complications occur to some extent in around 5 or 6% of patients and can start up to a year after surgery



Any change in appearance of implants, increased associated pain or dissatisfaction with them

Common problems include:

  • age related sagging
  • calcification of breast tissue
  • capsular contraction
  • leak from implant
  • implant wrinkling or rippling
  • infection, inflammation or irritation


Exclude Red Flag Symptoms

If any of the following apply, refer the patient on an urgent 2 week wait pathway:

  • Palpable lump in breast
  • Breast ulceration, skin distortion or nodule, persisting nipple eczema, unilateral blood stained discharge or recent nipple retraction
  • Known history of breast cancer



  1. Refer to breast clinic if red flag symptoms using the Breast Suspected Cancer e-Referral Form
  2. Refer to original NHS breast surgeon if possible where the original procedure was undertaken on the NHS
  3. Refer back to original surgeon if undertaken in the private sector


NOTE: Unless a cancer related implant, the RaTC states that no corrective surgery can be performed except removing the leaking or non required implants, unless exceptional funding is agreed.  See RaTC - Breast procedures - Breast augmentation (revision of)


Information to include on referral letter

Include the following information when making a referral:

  1. Type of implant
  2. Where and when fitted
  3. Why it was fitted
  4. Any post operative complications


NOTE Ensure that patient is aware that the purpose of the consultation is to exclude underlying malignancy; not to deal with implant problems as such, unless the original implant procedure was performed by the NHS


Advice and Guidance is being made available for all specialties, and is being provided by consultant specialists at East Kent Hospitals.  To make a request or to check to if a query has been answered, you will need to log in via the electronic Referral System (eRS)

Click here for the "how to access" e-Referral Advice and Guidance Manual for instructions on how to make a request and check responses

Have a question or query?

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