Breast Augmentation and Defibrillators

Q: Dr. Eppley, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure at 19. I’m now 29. I’ve had 3 defibrillator surgeries, the last one being the 2nd of this month. They implanted a subcutaneous defibrillator which goes in your side and the lead runs under the breast and up in between. It does not have contact with the heart it is like a camera that just watches it. My defibrillator has only ever went off once in 2010, it’s pretty much just a precaution. My ejection fraction is low, like 20%. I’m 90lbs so this particular defibrillator is VERY noticeable and makes me very self conscious. I have like no boobs lol, literally. I’m hoping to possibly get a breast augmentation to make me feel better and make my machine and lead less noticeable. Do you think it’s safe?

A: The two relevant questions are whether breast augmentation is both safe and effective given your medical condition and very thin frame with little body fat. From a safety standpoint this is really a question for your cardiologist and whether he/she would ever give medical clearance for this surgery. The safety of surgery relates to whether you could have general anesthesia which is typically how breast augmentation surgery is done. Another consideration would be to have the surgery under local anesthesia with the breast implants placed above the muscle.

The other question is whether breast implants would provide some camouflage for your debrillator. I have done a few breast augmentations in defibrillator patients and it has been helpful.

Lastly it is important to know where the leads run so they are not damaged during surgery. A chest x-ray is needed before surgery to accurately know their location.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana