What Is Breast Implant Rupture?
While breast implants are a lasting and reliable way to add volume and shape to the breasts, they are not meant to last forever. More often than not, breast implants will need to be replaced during a patient’s lifetime. One factor that contributes to implant replacement is the rupture of an implant. Breast implant rupture occurs when the silicone shell of either a saline or silicone implant breaks open, causing the contents of the implant to leak into the body. Breast implant rupture is commonly treated with breast revision surgery, where the damaged implant is removed and a new implant is inserted.
What Causes Implant Rupture?
- Trauma to the breasts
- Compression or intense pressure on the breasts
- Normal aging of the implant
- Capsular contracture
- Damage during breast procedures
- Over or underfilling of a saline implant
Diagnosing an Implant Rupture
One of the most telling signs of an implant rupture is the sudden decrease in breast size. For saline implants, a rupture will be easily noticed immediately or within a few days, as the saline solution will leak out of the implant shell and be harmlessly absorbed by the body. Silicone implants often do not present the same deflation after a rupture; however, some changes may be observed.
When a silicone implant ruptures, it is often referred to as a “silent” rupture. This means that the thicker silicone gel does not escape from its silicone shell. If you do notice changes in your breast, however, this may be a sign of a rupture. It may also be a sign of another complication known as capsular contracture, where scar tissue forms and contracts around the implant. Breast revision surgery is required in either of these situations.
When a silicone implant ruptures, loose silicone can eventually make its way out of the silicone shell and into the body. Sudden lumps in the breast around the implant may be a sign of a rupture.
Occasionally, breast implant ruptures will be recognized by the changing of sensation in the breast. These changes may involve tenderness, numbness, tingling, swelling, or burning of the breast.
Removing the Implant
Breast revision surgery to address a ruptured implant is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. During treatment, the damaged implant shell is removed from the breast pocket. In the case of a saline implant rupture, only the silicone shell is removed, as the saline is absorbed by the body. For a silicone implant, the shell and any loose silicone that can safely be removed is taken from the breast pocket. It may be difficult to collect all of the loose silicone.
Replacing the Implant (Optional)
Once the damaged implant shell and any loose silicone are removed, a new implant may be inserted into the existing breast pocket. For the most comfortable procedure, it is recommended that an implant similar to the ruptured one is used. The type of implants may be switched (saline or silicone-filled) depending on your preference. Dr. Chin will discuss which option would be best for your situation.
Breast Lift Surgery (Optional)
It is not required that you replace a breast implant after a rupture. If you wish to remove both breast implants, you can certainly do so. In most cases of permanent implant removal, however, patients choose to undergo a breast lift to restore the appearance of the breasts. After removing an existing implant, many patients have excess skin that causes sagging. A breast lift removes this excess skin and repositions the breasts to an elevated and aesthetically appealing level on the chest; however, the patient may experience less upper pole fullness without an implant.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Changes to nipple or breast sensation
- Blood accumulation
- Implant deflation