What Happens To Breast Implants When You Die?

Mike Wilton

by Mike Wilton | October 28, 2011 @ 08:00AM

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Breast Implant TombstoneIt’s Halloween season, so I thought I’d write on a rather obscure topic that popped in my head a couple of months back.  What happens to breast implants after death?  Are they removed? Do they dissolve? What exactly happens?  I know it seems morbid, but based on some research I did, I’m not the only one who has wondered.  I reached out to the funeral and mortuary community to find out more.

Overall, experts say that nothing really happens to breast implants when the person dies.  Over time, the saline or silicone breast implants will break down and decompose with the body.  Unless the person(s) tending to the funeral preparations requests to have the implants returned, they will remain with the body.

However, some situations may arise that would require the breast implants to be removed.  During an autopsy, for instance, pathologists remove breast implants to gain access to vital organs behind the breasts.  In this case, the implants, like the organs removed, are not returned to the body after the autopsy is complete.

For women who opt to be cremated when they die, they pose a unique dilemma for the funeral service provider.  According to Elizabeth Fournier of Cornerstone Funeral Services and Cremation in Boring, OR, breast implants will explode in the cremation oven.  If not removed before cremation, the explosion will leave a gelatinous mess in the cremation oven, which is problematic for both the crematory and those tending to funeral arrangements.

“The funeral director or cremation provider should be made aware if the decedent has a pacemaker, prosthesis, or any other mechanical or radioactive devices or implants, as they may have to be removed prior to cremation,” says Fournier. “If such devices or implants should have been removed and were not, then the person authorizing the cremation will be responsible for any damages caused to the crematory...The funeral director or cremation provider should also be made aware if the decedent was recently treated with any radioactive medication. Compared to this, fake boobs are harmless.”

Though implants were viewed as a minor concern amongst crematory personnel, no one wants to be stuck with the task of scraping the remains of a pair of Double D’s out of an oven.  As it is, I hate scraping the remains of last night’s dinner out of the oven.

Original image by Jo Naylor

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