All surgical procedures come with immediate risks, like reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, and infections. Infections can happen after breast augmentation surgery if bacteria gets into the incision site. These infections can be serious. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening complication from bacterial infections, has been reported following breast augmentation surgery.

Plastic surgeons try to minimize the risk of infection during surgery by keeping the incision site and the implant sterile. There are different ways that surgeons put the implant into the breast to reduce the chances of infection.

Symptoms of infection include redness, heat, drainage, or swelling around the area of the stitches or scar. Other symptoms include a fever, rash, nausea, fatigue, nipple discharge, and vomiting. After augmentation surgery, you should monitor your breast(s) for signs of an infection. If you develop symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

Some women develop infections near or related to their breast implants months or years after surgery. Some studies have shown that textured implants, which have a bumpy surface, provide an ideal surface for bacteria to live and grow. If you have textured breast implants, you may be at a greater risk for an infection. Some women have also reported infections caused by saline filled implants that were contaminated with bacteria. If a contaminated saline filled implant ruptures,  the bacteria or fungus can get out into the surrounding area or travel throughout your body. This can be very dangerous. If you notice a change in the size or shape of your implant around the same time as symptoms like swelling, redness, or fever, you should see a doctor immediately.

If you develop an infection related to your breast implants, you will need antibiotics. Some women will require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics (medications that go directly into your bloodstream to fight off the infection). If your infection doesn’t respond to antibiotics, your implants will need to be removed.

It is important for you to know that swelling can be a symptom of an even more serious medical issue called Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a cancer of the immune system caused by breast implants. ALCL is also more likely to develop around textured breast implants. If the swelling is not eliminated by the antibiotic, immediately ask your doctor to get the fluid tested for ALCL.

All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.