Is Salvage of Recently Infected Breast Implant After Breast Augmentation or Reconstruction Possible? An Experimental Study

Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2018 Apr;42(2):362-368. doi: 10.1007/s00266-017-1037-2. Epub 2018 Jan 23.


Introduction: The reinsertion of an infected implant when peri-prosthetic infection occurs early after breast augmentation or breast reconstruction remains controversial. In this experimental study, the authors tried to remove bacteria, and their biofilm, from the colonized surface of breast prostheses, without damaging their integrity.

Materials and methods: A total of 112 shell samples of silicone breast prostheses, smooth (SPSS) and textured (TPSS), were colonized by S. epidermidis (SE) or S. aureus (SA) strains, all able to produce biofilms. After 15 days, all the samples were removed from the contaminated culture broth and constituted 4 groups of 20 contaminated samples: SPSS/SE (group I), SPSS/SA (group II), TPSS/SE (group III), TPSS/SE (group IV). In another group-group SEM-, 16 colonized samples were used for documentation with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The remaining 16 samples were used to test the limits of detection of the sterility test. All samples of groups I-IV and 8 samples of group SEM were « washed » with a smooth brush in a povidone-iodine bath and rinsed with saline solution. A subset of the washed samples was sent for SEM and the others were immersed in sterile broth and were incubated at 35 °C for 3 weeks (groups I-IV).

Results: Fifteen days after contamination, all the samples in groups I-IV were colonized. In the SEM group, SEM images attested to the presence of bacteria in biofilm attached to the shells. After cleaning, SEM did not reveal any bacteria and there was no visible alteration in the outer structure of the shell. Sterility tests performed after decontamination in groups I-IV remained negative for all the samples.

Conclusion: Breast prostheses recently contaminated with Staphylococci, frequently involved in peri-prosthetic breast implant infection and capable of producing biofilms, can be efficiently decontaminated by the procedure used in this study. Our decontamination procedure did not alter the surface structure of the prostheses. This decontamination procedure could allow reinsertion of an infected implant when peri-prosthetic infection occurs early after breast augmentation or breast reconstruction and when a salvage procedure is indicated.

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Keywords: Breast augmentation; Breast reconstruction; Implant salvage; Infected implant.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms
  • Breast Implants / adverse effects*
  • Decontamination / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects
  • Mammaplasty / methods
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Salvage Therapy / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Silicone Gels
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*


  • Silicone Gels