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Implant Rupture

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
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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.

Your Treatment

Removing the Implant

Removing

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)

Replacing

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)

Saurgery

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

A: Although a ruptured implant is an annoyance and something that should be handled right away, it is not a threat to your health. The sterile solution found in saline implants is entirely harmless to your body, and the gel found in silicone implants will not cause any health problems (such as breast cancer, reproductive problems, or connective tissue diseases).
A: If you suspect that your silicone implant has ruptured, see Dr. Chin right away. The only way to confirm a silicone rupture is with an imaging test such as an MRI.
A: You may find that the recovery period for your breast revision will take longer than the initial recovery for your breast augmentation. Following your procedure, skin discoloration, bruising, and swelling are expected and normal. Prescribed pain medication will relieve any discomfort. A surgical bra should be worn in the initial weeks to help reduce swelling, increase blood flow, and aid in the healing process. Dr. Chin will advise you on when you can switch back to a regular bra. Most patients return to work and their normal schedules within seven to 10 days, but all heavy physical activity should be avoided for at least one month.
A: Complications from breast revision are rare. However, as with any surgical procedure, they are possible. These complications may include:
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Changes to nipple or breast sensation
  • Blood accumulation
  • Implant deflation
A: The cost of your breast revision surgery will depend on several factors. Anesthesia fees, surgical fees, facility fees, and the cost of the new implant are all factored into your procedure costs. Dr. Chin and his staff will provide you with an accurate estimate during your consultation.

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