Over the years, breast augmentation has made many improvements in the techniques and technologies used. Breast augmentation with implants is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery, and breast implants are known to be reliable and long-lasting. Unfortunately, nothing man-made is guaranteed to last a lifetime, and implants are no different. While the risk doesn’t outweigh the results of breast augmentation, there is always the possibility that something may go awry and your implants may require replacement.
Causes for an Implant to Rupture
An implant rupture literally means that the silicone shell of the implants rips, thus allowing the liquid making up the implant to escape into the body. This occurrence can happen in both saline and silicone implants, and it is impossible to know which is more likely since the causes for implants to rupture are circumstantial. While implant rupture can be a response to normal aging and wear and tear of the implant, it can also be related to a condition known as capsular contracture, which is when the scar tissue forms and “contracts” around the implant, causing it to fold and tear, resulting in a leak. This is the most common complication of breast augmentation. Other reasons for implant rupture can be from physical pressure (such as the result of a car accident or other injuries) or damage from the initial augmentation procedure.
Symptoms of an Implant Rupture
Symptoms of a ruptured implant may or may not be immediately noticeable. Traditionally, it is easier to identify a ruptured saline implant than a silicone implant. Since saline implants are filled with salt water, the liquid will leak out and be absorbed very quickly by the body. Although this water is harmless to your body, the deflation of your breast implant will be quite noticeable within the first few days. Silicone ruptures are often more difficult to realize because they can present no immediate symptoms. Occasionally, silicone implants can have a “silent” rupture, which means that the only true way to know if the implant is ruptured is through an MRI. It is recommended that patients with silicone implants have periodic MRIs to check on the implants. Other times, patients with ruptured silicone implants will experience changes in the size and shape of the breasts, hard lumps, or pain, tingling, or numbness of the breasts.
What Should You Do?
Although there is nothing to prove that a ruptured implant is harmful to your body (it does not affect cancer rates or any other health issue), it is important to see your doctor right away if you feel that your implant has ruptured so that they can remove and/or replace the implant. Aesthetically, a ruptured saline implant will be noticeable, and while a ruptured silicone implant may not be visibly apparent, escaped silicone can travel to other parts of your body such as the lymph nodes in your arms where they cannot be removed. In either situation, the best solution is immediate attention.