Question of the Day: Can Breast Implants Counteract a Bullet?

In 2010, a story surfaced on the internet. Apparently, a woman sustained a gunshot wound to the chest but survived because of her breast implants. Whether or not breast implants can save a life have been debated by scientists…until now.


A study in the Journal of Forensic Science set up a number of controlled experiments to test the theory. The scientists shot numerous saline breast implants to see if the round’s velocity and trajectory were altered by the implants.

The test dummy had a gel substance behind the implant, which represented human muscle. They also had a test dummy that had the gel substance but no implant. When the scientists shot the dummies from 8 feet and 2 inches away, they learned that a breast implant significantly reduced gel penetration by approximately 20 percent.

When the bullet hit the breast implant, the round flattened out and slowed down, which reduced its impact on the chest cavity, something lead researcher Christopher Pannucci, a plastic surgeon at the University of Utah, thinks could drastically reduce the impact of stabbings, falls and car accidents.

“You can think of them as tiny airbags,” Pannucci told New Scientist. The surgeon, however, was very adamant about people not testing out this theory on their own implants.


Australian surgeon Anand Deva at Macquarie University warns about the implants rupturing and causing further damage. Deva has treated two people two people with ruptured implants. One person was shot and the other fell down stairs.

“They had red, hard, painful breasts because silicone gel had spread all through and caused inflammation,” Deba recalls. “The gel is hard to get out because it leaks into all the nooks and crannies, and sometimes mastectomy is required.”

Here’s how the study was conducted:

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