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A 30-year-old woman has an unlikely hero to thank in saving her life from a gunshot: her silicone breasts
The Canadian woman was walking down a street when she reportedly started “feeling heat and pain” in her left chest. When she looked down, she saw blood and promptly took herself to the emergency room where she was transferred to the hospital’s trauma center. Doctors determined that she had been shot in the chest at close-range with a firearm, but that the bullet was likely deflected away from her heart by her silicone breast implant.
“The silicone implant was likely responsible for deflecting the bullets trajectory and saving the women’s life,” write doctors in a case report published in Plastic Surgery Case Studies, describing the woman as being a “comfortable patient in no distress.”
A single entry wound in her left breast and high-resolution computer tomography (CT) scans determined that the ballistic had first entered the left breast – where “debris and air” were found – and was deflected by the silicone implant before entering the right breast where the implant was found in a “completely flipped position.” Doctors inspected the breast area to ensure that no other damage had occurred before removing both implants.
“Based on trajectory of bullet entry clinically and evaluation radiologically, the only source of bullet deflection of the bullet is the left breast implant. This implant overlies the heart and intrathoracic cavity and therefore likely saved the women’s life,” write the doctors.
Breast augmentation is one of the most commonly performed operations by plastic surgeons and is used to increase breast size of patients for cosmetic purposes as well as reconstructive surgery following pregnancy, cancer-related mastectomies, or as part of gender reassignment surgery and affirmation. In 2018 alone, more than 329,000 Americans opted for the procedure, nearly half of which were between the ages of 18 and 34. Given the high number of women with breast implants and the figures for gun violence against women every year, the authors add that they had expected a higher reporting of bullet-deflecting breasts. A review of existing scientific literature found just four such cases, two of which report that the implant may have saved its owner’s life.
“The benefits of breast augmentation are generally accepted to be on quality of life, as until recently implants had never been considered lifesaving,” report the doctors. “Interestingly, despite the millions of women with breast implants and the thousands of women affected by gun violence worldwide, ruptured implants after firearm injury is a rarely reported phenomenon in the literature, with only several case reports having been described previously.”
Doctors have advised the woman not to get new implants for another six months. Officials are currently investigating the shooting and at the time of publication, no firearm has been recovered and the shooter remains unknown.