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Pain and tightness around implant after radiation


I’m 13 months post final radiation and have extreme tightness around my implant. There isn’t a time when I don’t have an uncomfortable feeling or down right pain. Now the back story and questions.
Original Dx 6/2016. Dbl mastectomy, SLN Bx, under muscle reconstruction with textured implants. Woke up feeling as if I was dangling from a steel belt wrapped around my breast. Hospitalized twice for extreme pain and not able to take deep breaths. Over the next 3 years and 3 trips to the hospital with heart attack symptoms it was determined my body rejected my implants. Both sides were removed and new smooth implants placed. Felt like a new person. Went in for my annual implant check and PS found a lump. Cancer in same breast 10/22. Surgery 11/22 to remove implants, cancer and immediate reconstruction with a new smaller implant. I was very happy with the results. I knew I would need radiation but I was adamant I didn’t want to be flat for a year.
So to the point…the right radiated side is uncomfortable, it has contracted significantly and is at least 3” higher than the left and no matter what I do (bras/silicone breast pieces) you can tell that there is a difference. I’m scheduled for surgery in August to have the left side removed, lifted and new implant placed to bring it more in line with the right. Now I’m having second thoughts. Here is the big question.
Has anyone gone through all of this and then just had their implants removed and gone flat? Have you had surgery on your radiated breast and not had complications? I’m so sick of my surgeries as this will be my 7th because of cancer. Genetic testing also revealed a mutation of BRIP-1 so my cancer fighting gene is turned off. My Oncotype score was 36! Add them all together for a 30%+ chance of recurrence with distance metastasis.
if you’ve read this far I give you a lot of credit. Can you tell I’ve been keeping stuff bottled up and just needed to off-load? Please share your story.


  • cookie54
    cookie54 Member Posts: 753

    @rightsideslacker Ugh so to hear about the discomfort with your implant. I have the same thing as I had to have rads to the area during a second recurrence. I agree it's very uncomfortable, hard, drifted high and very tight. I was warned of this but not much choice. SAt this point I am now Stage IV so I will just live with it. If it gets way worse and my cancer is holding stable I probably would just have it removed.

    Can't speak to surgery post rads but I think its' definitely more of a challenge although not impossible. Good luck with your decision, hopefully others will chime in.


  • dimples90
    dimples90 Member Posts: 16


    Sorry to hear about the issue with your radiated side! I will tell you about my experience but I’m not one who had success with implant after radiation. So I hope you don’t mind if I add my story.
    I had BMX with radiation to right expander. My PS suggested implant (he doesn’t do DIEP and didn’t mention it to me). The implant failed. My incision opened up at home and the implant was removed in his office. He suggested a Lat Flap next. I developed severe capsular contracture two months after the Lat flap with expander. I decided to call it quits on implants at that point. My PS would have continued if I had wanted.

    I really wanted reconstruction so researched my next option. Went to New Orleans for DIEP. It’s major surgery but was worth it for me. Seems like using one’s own tissue works the best with radiated skin. However, I totally understand that’s it’s not for everyone.

    If you decide to do surgery on the left for symmetry then are you able to tolerate the pain on the right side? That seems to be the big question that might help you decide about your next surgery.
    Sorry this is so stressful for you but know you are not alone.