Right out of the files of ‘CSI Plastic Surgery’, a recent case out of China reported on the solving of a missing person’s case by their breast implants. A young murdered female was identified using an exposed silicone breast implant. Through the coding on the silicone breast implant, the police tracked the product back to where the breast augmentation procedure was performed and she was subsequently identified.
While this case was from China, such a similar event could well happen here in the U.S. Breast implants are manufactured in large numbers of sizes and styles and then shipped out to various hospitals and doctor’s office. To ensure tracking of the implants as is required by the FDA and for long-term patient safety, they all have lot and serial numbers. Lot numbers represent the batch from which a certain number of implant shells and fillers are made. Serial numbers are unique to each implant. These numbers are clearly evident on the box and on tracking labels inside the sealed implant boxes. After surgery, forms are submitted to the manufacturer with the patient’s name and other identifying information with the lot and serial numbers of the implants placed. Thus the manufacturer maintains a registry of every patient and the implants they have received.
But some manufacturers place the lot and serial numbers on the implant themselves. For those patients that received breast implants from those manufacturers that place the serial numbers on each implant (e.g., Sientra), the breast augmentation and breast reconstruction patient could always be positively identified…much like an internal ID card.
Dr. Barry Eppley