Can I Have Radiation Therapy to the Chest After Breast Implant Reconstruction?

Dr. Anne Wallace answers the question: 'Chest radiation after breast implants?'

ByABC News
September 24, 2007, 3:00 PM

— -- Question: Can I have radiation therapy to the chest area after I have a breast implant reconstruction?

Answer: Radiation after breast implants is very problematic because what happens when someone gets radiation is that it not only helps to kill any cancer cells might be there. And that's the purpose of it but it also causes scar tissue and changes in the blood supply to the skin and the deep tissues that have been radiated.

When you have a primary implant in place, and what primary implant means is that an implant underneath the muscle with no other external flap or healthy material that has been brought in over the implant, so an implant that sits in underneath the pectoralis muscle, underneath the skin, that has been radiated that has been radiated is going to be subject to some of those scar tissue changes, and blood flow changes that have happened with the radiation. So as the pectoralis major starts to scar and the skin starts to scar the implant capsule or scar capsule over the implant can become more dense and thick, can cause the patient pain, cause redness of the skin, cause the implant to ride up and become very hard. The implant itself is ok. It's all the scar tissue pushing on the implant that's the problem.

So the literature is ambiguous to exactly what the number is the low number is 30 percent problematic but I think in real practice its up to 70 percent problematic with implants that have been radiated developing scar tissue and pain and the aesthetic result is not considered good anymore.

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