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Do I have a Breast Implant Rupture?

Key Things to Know about Breast Implant Rupture and Ruptured Implants

Although breast implants can last a long time – typically a decade or more, there are still chances of a breast implant rupture. A rupture is a tear or a hole in the breast implant but you can also have a slow leak or silicon bleed. The chances of your breast implant rupturing or leaking can increase over time. This article addresses the things you should know and many FAQs about breast implant rupture.

Dr Scott Turner is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon and expert on Breast Implant Surgery and Mentor Breast Implants. He offers Breast Implant Removal & Breast Implant Revision Surgery in Newcastle and Sydney NSW.

Breast Implants are commonly used for breast enhancement – either augmentation, reconstruction or a breast lift with implants.

There are two types of breast implants; saline and silicone gel, both consist of a silicone outer shell, but they differ in the filling material inside the implants and how they rupture

  • Saline implants are filled with saline or sterile saltwater – these deflate and saline fluid leaks out
  • Silicone implants are filled with silicone – these can split or gel can leak

What causes a breast implant rupture?

Breast Implant Rupture might be caused by:

  • Chest Trauma, for example a car accident or heavy fall onto your chest
  • Chest Injury
  • Surgical error, for example: a needle insertion during a biopsy
  • Excessive pressure exerted on the breast, ex: during a mammogram
  • Degraded or damaged implant outer shell due to normal aging of the implant

It is important to know the breast implant rupture signs and symptoms so you can identify the problem as early as possible.

Older implants are generally regarded as less resistant to rupture than modern Mentor and Motiva implants.

Can Coughing Rupture Breast Implants?

No, coughing will not cause breast implant rupture, as they are cushioned by your skin and fat.

Silicone Implant Rupture

When a silicone gel breast implant ruptures it leaks very slowly due to the silicone thickness, so it may take you a long time before you realize that your silicone implant has ruptured, or you may not realize it at all. This is why silicone gel implant ruptures are sometimes called silent ruptures.

What causes a Silicone Implant to Rupture?

Silicone implant rupture may be caused by an impact to the breast, a fall, cracks that develop in the implant shell over time, surgical error, or rarely pressure on the breast.

How Easy is it to Rupture a Silicone Implant?

Silicone implants are very durable and can withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure, yet there is always a risk that the shell will tear or rupture.

How common is it for silicone implants to rupture?

The incidence of silicone implant rupture increases with implant age. According to data from studies a 2% rupture rate at five years and 15-17% at 10 years has been reported.

How can you tell If your Silicone Implant has Ruptured?

If your silicone gel implant ruptured, you might notice;

  • Changes in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Rash
  • Lumps
  • Hardening

Or, you might not have any symptoms, making it difficult to know you have a rupture. Because most women don’t notice when a silicone gel implant ruptures, it is recommended to have a breast MRI 3 years after getting silicone breast implants, then a breast MRI should be done every 2 years to check for a rupture.

Can a ruptured Silicone Implant make you Sick?

When a silicone implant ruptures, the silicone can either stay inside the capsule of scar tissue that naturally grows around the implant or leak outside the capsule. It is more serious when the silicone leaks outside of the capsule, because silicone is not absorbed into the body so it could migrate to the lymph nodes, and from there can go to other organs.

The longer you wait to have a ruptured silicone gel implant removed, the more silicone is likely to leak and cause health problems.

According to research, women with leaking silicone implants are more likely to report fibromyalgia (widespread body pain and fatigue) or several other diseases – sometime symptoms of BII or Breast Implant Illness. Some of these symptoms may be associated with Silicone Allergy or Silicone Toxicity.

What are the Symptoms of Silicone Toxicity?

Symptoms of silicone toxicity can include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • brain fog, difficulty concentrating, memory loss
  • muscle pain, joint pain, and weakness
  • dry skin and hair loss
  • poor sleep and insomnia
  • dry eyes, decline in vision, vision disturbances
  • anemia
  • blood clots
  • slow healing of cuts and scrapes,
  • easy bruising
  • hormones imbalance
  • vertigo
  • fevers, night sweats, intolerance to heat
  • skin rashes
  • sudden food intolerance and allergies
  • headaches
  • slow muscle recovery after activity
  • cramping
  • heart palpitations, changes in normal heart rate or heart pain
  • general chest discomfort, shortness of breath
  • sore and aching joints of shoulders, hips, backbone, hands, and feet
  • swollen and tender lymph nodes in the breast area, underarm, throat, neck & groin
  • pain and/or burning sensation around the implant and/or underarm
  • numbness/tingling sensations in upper and lower limbs
  • liver and kidney dysfunction
  • toxic shock symptoms
  • anxiety, depression and panic attacks

Saline Implant Rupture

How do you know if your saline implant has ruptured?

When a saline implant ruptures or its valve fails, the saline will probably leak very quickly, typically over the course of a few days, and saline (saltwater) will be absorbed by the body.

Your breast will change in size and/or shape and appear somewhat deflated, so you know immediately that your implant ruptured.

Other signs of saline implant rupture include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • fever

Can a ruptured Silicone Implant make you Sick?

Although saline implants are regarded as safer – when the saline leaks, the body absorbs it.

However, sometimes bacteria, yeast, or mould are either present inside the implant or the insecure implant valve allows your body fluids to infiltrate, along with bacteria, yeast and molds leading to decaying elements build up.

When the shell starts leaking into your breast, the contaminated contents are discharged and spread through your body which can cause a serious infection.

How do you know if your Breast Implant is Infected?

Symptoms of infection include swelling, redness, fever, rash or nipple discharge. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should see your plastic surgeon immediately.

How often should you have your Breast Implants Checked?

Women with silicone breast implants should undergo screening three years after implant placement and then every 2 years thereafter.

No long-term monitoring is suggested for saline implants.

Can a Mammogram Detect a Ruptured Implant?

Mammography can detect extracapsular silicone implant ruptures. However, intracapsular rupture cannot be identified by mammography. In addition, the pressure could cause the silicone to leak outside the capsule.

A mammogram is the least accurate way to diagnose a ruptured silicone-gel breast implant.

MRI is considered the method of choice for detecting implant rupture, with sensitivity and specificity exceeding 90%.

What should you Do If your Breast Implant Ruptures?

If you have ruptured saline implants the implant should be surgically removed. You should see your plastic surgeon, especially if you feel sick, have a fever, a rash, or other unexplained symptoms. These could be signs of an infection and require treatment.

If you have ruptured silicone gel implants, they should be removed as soon as possible. The longer the silicone remains in your body, the more harmful it can become. It may cause other health problems as it migrates to other parts of your body. Once the silicone has moved to other parts of your body, it can’t be removed and.

For intracapsular implant rupture, your plastic surgeon may also remove the capsule of scar tissue surrounding the implant (Capsulectomy) or just cut open the capsule by making small incisions.

If you have implants in both breasts, your plastic surgeon will probably remove both of them, even if only one has ruptured.

If you have a silicone implant that has an extracapsular leak, your plastic surgeon will remove the implant and the silicone that has leaked out.

What happens if you Leave the Ruptured Silicone Implants?

Leaving a ruptured silicone implant in your breast will cause an intracapsular rupture to develop into an extracapsular rupture. This can lead to further health problems as silicone migrates to other parts of your body.

Breast Implant rupture

How do I know when my Breast Implants need Rreplacing? – 5 Reasons to remove or replace your implant

1 – You have an Implant Rupture

if one or both of your saline implants deflates your breast will visibly decrease in size.

If your silicone implant ruptures you may experience;

  • change in breast size or shape
  • pain or tenderness
  • swelling
  • changes in the sensation of the breast.

2 – Hardening of the breast (Capsular Contracture)

If you feel uncomfortable due to tightness and hardening of the breast capsule around the implant which causes the breast to migrate up and toward the armpit.

Capsular contracture can occur immediately after surgery, or it can develop years later. It can happen on just one or on both breasts.

3 – Unusual looking Breasts – Asymmetry or Deformed Looking Breasts – Implant Malposition

If you are unhappy with your breast shape, especially if they look asymmetrical or unusual.

4 – You Wanti to Change Your Implant Size

If you are not satisfied with your implant size (too big or too small)

5 – Moving, Flipping or Rotating Implant 

If you experience a moving or rotating implant that makes your breasts look noticeably uneven.

Is there a Warranty on Breast Implants?

Yes, most breast implant companies offer warranties. Many implant warranties for breast implants usually cover two things: the cost of the replacement implant and a predetermined amount of financial assistance for any  revision surgery that qualifies (usually due to implant rupture).

Warranty coverage differs according to implant brand, implant type and the coverage program. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime product warranty for implant replacement, while others only warranty their implants for a 10 year period.

Does Medicare Cover Ruptured Breast Implant Removal?

Medicare may cover the removal and replacement of your breast implants with another set of implants, if you can show that your implant has migrated, ruptured or a capsule has formed and you meet a specific set of criteria.

Medicare may cover the removal of your breast implant with a capsulectomy procedure (removal of the scar tissue surrounding the implant).

What happens if breast implants are not replaced?

If you decide to have your breast implants removed without replacing them, your breasts may not return to the shape they used to be before the surgery. You may experience deflation, sagging, wrinkling or asymmetries of your breasts. You should discuss with your plastic surgeon how your breast may look like after the breast implant removal.  There are options including having a Breast Lift or Fat Transfer to Breast.


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