Breast implants protect against bullets from firearms

iStock_000015704019XSmallBreast implants protect against bullets from firearms

The results of a very interesting analysis were published in the latest issue of „Journal of Forensic Sciences”. Christopher J. Pannucci, a plastic surgeon, has argued that breast implants can protect women from the effects of gunshot injuries.

Millions of American women are after implantation of breast enlargement inserts. Only in 2016, over 450,000 of such procedures were made. Firearms violence contributes almost 8% of overall violent crime in US. It results in more than 1200 women each year being exposed to gunshot wounds (including fatal ones). So, can implants not only improve the quality of life, but also save it?

Research team from the University of Utah decided to examine whether breast saline implants could reduce firearms injuries. Ballistic analysis has shown that the missile material decreases its speed as well as changes its shape after passing through the implant. It desreases the tissue penetration, and thus reduces the negative consequences of gunshot chest injuries.

Ballistic gel was used for expertisis, as it is specially desiged to reproduce the bullet path in human tissue. Shots were taken to the gel blocks at the distances of up to 8.0 feets. Then, 750 cc implants were placed on the bullet path. Comparable firing conditions were maintained. The experimental design compared ballistic blocks. As researchers observed, bullet’s passage through a saline implant resulted in a 20% (8 cm) decreased penetration distance. In addition, it changed its shape, resulting in greater retardation and ultimately reduced bullet speed. It is possible that in some cases it may be a difference in life or death.

The idea for the study was brought by life itself. The case of the survivor of a close-ranged gunshot into the chest was an inspiration. The wound tract from the entrance in the areola to the exit in the armpit area was not linear. That means, the bullet’s path had to change as a result of implant passing. It can not be excluded, that the implants can also protect the chest from knife strokes, falls or car accidents, acting like “tiny airbags”. However, cases of implant fracture and the associated risk of diffuse inflammation of the surrounding tissue cause that specialists do not recommend implantation just for the protection against injury.

Source: Pannucci Ch, Cyr A, Moores N, Young J, Szegedi M. A Ballistics Examination of Firearm Injuries Involving Breast Implants. J Forensic Sci, 2017; Jul 06.

Author: Magda Kwapisz

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