A recent study published in SAGE medical journal describes the case of a 30-year-old woman whose silicone breast implant deflected a bullet, saving her life in the process.
Breast implants are a part of reconstructive surgery, usually done after mastectomies. However, with social media and beauty magazines portraying unhealthy body standards for women, there seems to be a rise in breast augmentation for cosmetic purposes. Breast augmentation is also called augmentation mammoplasty and can create an improved breast volume, enhancing a person’s self-image and self-confidence. According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, both silicone-filled and saline-filled breast implants are associated with Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
Breast implants although considered a beauty enhancing tool, have never before been termed lifesaving. In the past, there have just been two such cases of implants saving a patient’s life.
According to Dr. Giancarlo McEvenue, co-author of the study, the 30-year-old presented to the emergency room in a surprisingly well state, considering she’d just been shot. The exact details of how the patient got shot are still unclear. She reported feeling heat and pain in the left side of her chest and upon looking down saw that she was bleeding. This led her to the emergency department where she was found to have suffered a gunshot wound, broken ribs, and broken implants, but otherwise unhurt.
There was a bullet entry wound on the left side of her chest but the rib fracture was seen on the right. Evidence pointed out that after entering the left side, the bullet bounced off across her sternum and into the right breast, fracturing her right rib.
The x-ray revealed a radio-opaque bullet lodged in her right lateral thoracic wall, a fractured rib, and gas in the left breast. Had the bullet penetrated the left side of the chest, it would have caused injury to the heart and left lung, costing her life.
Using a high-resolution CT scan, the doctors were able to analyze the bullet’s trajectory in the patient. The case report’s findings stated that the change in bullet’s trajectory could only have happened due to the implant as there was no evidence of any bone injury on the left side.
The patient’s implants were removed, both the implant pockets were irrigated with normal saline and betadine, and, after a long course of antibiotics the patient was discharged.
The study recommends that in all patients with firearm-related injury, implants should be removed and, the implant pockets should always be treated as potentially contaminated.
McEvenue, G., Oikonomou, A., Ditkofsky, N., & Lipa, J. (2020). Life-Saving Silicone Breast Implant After Firearm Injury: Case Report and Treatment Recommendations. Plastic Surgery Case Studies