Breast implants and breathing difficulties


Q: I got breast implants a few years ago. 350 cc saline under the chest muscle. I've been having breathing difficulty from them specially when I'm exercising. I cannot take deep breaths in quickly and deeply while I'm running. I feel like my lungs can't expand. No problem with exhaling. When I do push ups or weights, I feel like my chest is being crushed under pressure. The first Dr. I visited said my lungs are normal and I had a normal pulmonary function test and chest x-rays. Second dr. said I might be having exercise induced asthma and prescribed albuterol. I've never had any breathing problems before and it doesn't run in my family. I still feel the pressure discomfort even when I use the inhaler. I am sure I don't have asthma. I want to know if this is a complication with implants or am I just imagining things? Will getting smaller implants help me or should I remove them? This chest x-ray is the only thing I have that shows the implants.
Thanks a lot!


A:   Thank you for your question.

Some degree of chest discomfort is normal following breast augmentation but should subside within a couple of months. When patients have breast implants in the subpectoral pocket (beneath the pectoralis major muscle), I recommend avoiding isolated chest exercises like pushups, chest press and fly decks. The reason for this is that it is unnecessary to develop that muscle group in the presence of implants. During the operation, we release the muscle from its attachments on the chest and place the implant below the muscle. When you exercise that muscle on its own, it will place an unwanted downward and outward pressure on the implant, potentially displacing it away from its desired position.

If you are indeed experiencing shortness of breath during exercise, it is unlikely due to the implants and potentially due to exercised induced asthma. A methacholine challenge test would aid your doctor in the diagnosis of such a problem.

In conclusion, I do not believe that your symptoms are caused by the implants and that your doctor should continue to work you up for a respiratory condition.

Thank you

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