Editor’s Note: Mold and other particulate matter in breast implants is a topic of high public and patient interest. This incident dates from March 2022.
A surgeon said a breast implant full of swirling particles of some kind was the “strangest” she has ever seen. She removed it for a patient and was surprised by its look.
Dr. Kelly Killeen says she suspects a prior surgeon may have “injected betadine and possibly steroid into the implant,” as the patient had experienced prior contractures.
Several viewers suspect the floating particles are mold.
“No wonder they wanted them out! Looks like mold or bacteria floating around can you imagine if it actually burst? So glad you were able to safely remove it!,” one viewer wrote.
“A little mold … it’s probably fine,” another added, along with a laughing emoji.
“It looks like mold pieces floating around in there,” an injectables company sales manager writes.
“Wow 25 years and never seen that,” a surgeon adds.
Visible mold in breast implants is evidently quite rare, and is believed to occur only in saline, not silicone, breast implants.
“My best guess is that the prior surgeon injected betadine and possibly steroid into the implant as the patient had prior contractures,” the surgeon who discovered the strange implant writes.
“It’s amazing after removing so many implants I still occasionally find a surprise.”
“I think Kenalog congealed with some Betadine in a sea monkey stew!”Dr. Kelly Killeen, March 3, 2022
Betadine a Repeat Suspect in Swirling and Discoloration
Betadine was also what one surgeon suspected was the potential culprit in a May 2022 case of moldy breast implants.
Social media star and podcast host Bunnie Xo (DeFord) had her breast implants removed in Nov. 2019.
Thirty months after their removal, in May 2022 and while still in DeFord’s possession, they had grown visibly moldy.
Scottsdale, Ariz., board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard J Brown said then he suspected some of the colored- or mold-looking substance swirling within DeFord’s implants looked like a Betadine sterilizing solution.
But upon explant, DeFord’s implants looked entirely unlike they did 30 months later, suggesting the solution wasn’t Betadine, or that in the interim, it had multiplied and changed colors.
After explanting in November 2019, DeFord told viewers the fill-valves on her implants were leaky, but that no mold was present, as she chronicled her explant surgery and recovery on YouTube.
“There’s no mold inside of them or anything like that, like I thought there was going to be,” she said, holding her clear saline-filled implants up for viewers in a sterile bag.
While visible mold in breast implants is reportedly extremely rare, and while the presence of mold can only be ascertained by a microbiologist, professional and lay viewers strongly agreed DeFord’s breast implants were moldy.
Implant Removal at 10-Year Mark
The board-certified surgeon also touched on a topic that members of the profession hold widely-varying views on: Whether breast implants have to be removed or replaced every 10 years.
Dr. Killeen suggests silicone breast implants be removed “every 10 years,” she shared.
Asked by a viewer, “if you don’t have any issues with your implants, do you really need to change them out? Back in the day they said every 10years?,” Killeen replied:
“[S]ilicone yes, you want to prevent rupture related complications. Saline only if you want to, but keep in mind their rupture risk will increase with time. They are less problematic if they rupture, but having a sudden deflated breast is a nuisance!”
Here is that conversation: