How to Identify Ruptured Breast Implants

Identifying Ruptured Breast ImplantsA common misconception of breast implant patients is that the breast surgery is a one-and-done procedure. The truth is that, even without additional trauma to the chest, breast implants are not lifetime devices. Over time the breast implant will wear and can result in rupturing and may need to be replaced. According to Breast Implant Safety, the general experience among plastic surgeons tend to be that implants last between 10 and 20 years, but more on that later. Before your procedure, it is important to understand that breast implants are not permanent, the risk of rupture rate and that you learn how to identify ruptured breast implants.

What is a breast implant rupture?

A breast implant rupture occurs when breast implants fail due to gradual wearing or a trauma that causes leakage. Most women have no specific cause for deflation or leakage but some possible problems that may contribute to a rupture include car accidents, falling and overly vigorous manipulation..

Often a rupture is not readily noticeable and may not cause discomfort, however, if your breasts develop an unusually hard feeling or highly rounded appearance, it may be a sign of capsular contracture and you should call your surgeon. Capsular contracture is an immune system response to foreign materials in the body and can cause discomfort.

How do I identify a breast implant rupture?

saline vs. silicon

Saline vs. Silicon Gel Breast Implants

Depending on the type of implant used, saline vs. silicone, you may not even notice a rupture.

Saline implants are more visible as they deflate and you will see the size and shape change, similar to a leaking water balloon. Not to worry, the saline solution can be absorbed by your body without posing any health risks, but you will want to either remove both shells or replace the damaged one to get back to a symmetrical appearance. If it has been a while since your implant procedure, you may want to use this opportunity to replace the undamaged implant as well to delay future rupture and additional surgeries and recovery time.

A silicone breast implant rupture may not be as noticeable immediately  — or ever — because the freed silicone typically remains trapped within the implant shell. Known as a silent rupture, this type of rupture is not thought to cause health problems but may eventually cause breast pain or changes in contour or shape. Even if you don’t show signs or symptoms upon discovery after a routine MRI, you can discuss your options with your surgeon. Unless there is a compelling reason not to have surgery, such as other medical issues, most surgeons will recommend removing the ruptured implant. You can then decide if you want to replace it or not have any implants.

How often should I check for breast implant ruptures?

The current recommendations for MRIs is to have one done three years after your breast surgery procedure and then every two years. Breast Implant Safety reports that a breast implant rupture within three years is unusual but not unheard of so there is a high likelihood that the recommendations will change in the future to having MRIs less often because the rupture rate is fairly small.

There are slight differences depending on which brand implants are studied, but it’s approximately a 5–7% chance of rupture by 10 years. The Sientra brand, which I have started using this past year, has a rupture rate of 0.4% at five years for their anatomic implants so, in my opinion, the risk of rupture is fairly low. While this brand of implants has not been around for 20 or 30 years, I suspect most of them will last at least that long.

While I tell my patients what the current recommendations are, many of them choose not to get the MRIs as recommended. In a few that have gotten them after having some sort of trauma, like a hard fall or car accident, their MRIs showed no rupture. However, I still highly recommend getting regular checkups or at least an MRI after trauma or if you have suspicions. Although not life-threatening, it is always good for you and your surgeon to know what is going on rather than wait until there is discomfort or you develop a contracture.

Considering getting painless breast implants or concerned you may have a ruptured implant? Contact us today for a free consultation!