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What to Do if You Think Your Implant Has Ruptured

Posted July 23, 2013 By: The Office of Birmingham Specialists

Breast Augmentation, Breast Enhancement, Breast Implants

Breast implants are a great way to enhance the female figure and improve self-­esteem, and breast augmentation is one of the most sought-­after plastic surgery procedures in the United States as well as the world. As with any surgery, there are certain complications that may result from breast augmentation with implants, such as implant rupture. Implant rupture is the breaking or splitting open of the silicone shell of an implant. Fortunately, if an implant rupture does occur, studies have shown that neither silicone nor saline implants cause disease.

Knowing how to reduce the risk of an implant rupture, how to identify a potential rupture, and what to do if you think a rupture has occurred are the best ways to prevent further complications from an implant rupture.

How to Reduce the Risk of a Rupture

Implant rupture generally occurs spontaneously without an obvious cause, so there are only a few preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of it occurring. Severe trauma to the chest could possibly cause an implant to rupture, so situations that can injure the breasts should be avoided. Undergoing breast augmentation surgery with a board certified plastic surgeon and being completely honest with your surgeon will reduce the risk of all complications, including implant rupture.

How to Identify a Rupture

Saline Implants

Saline implants consist of a solid silicone rubber outer shell filled with sterile salt water. It is immediately obvious if a saline implant has ruptured; the implant deflates and there is a noticeable reduction in the size of the breast. The body will safely and naturally absorb the saline solution within hours of the rupture.

Silicone Implants

Silicone implants are composed of a solid silicone rubber outer shell filled with cohesive silicone gel. If a silicone implant ruptures, capsular contracture (compression of the scar capsule around the implant) may occur and the breast may change its shape and feel. A silicone implant rupture may not be immediately noticeable, and an imaging test may need to be performed to confirm it.

Routine surveillance of a patient’s silicone gel breast implants with imaging studies (MRI or ultrasound) is not endorsed by most experts for women who are not having problems with their implants. If there is some question of the integrity of the implants, an ultrasound or breast MRI may help determine the status of their implants if they were not otherwise planning on having them replaced. For women with older silicone breast implants who otherwise are not experiencing issues with their implants, some consideration should be made to exchange the devices at 15-­20 years following implantation. Newer form-­stable “gummy bear” type implants recently introduced in the United States appear to last a considerably longer period of time and may never need to be replaced just based on the age of the device.

During the initial breast surgery, a pocket, or “capsule,” is created in the breast tissue that prevents the implant from moving around, and in the case of a rupture, the silicone gel may remain within the capsule. However, there is a chance the silicone may leak out of the scar tissue capsule and spread to other parts of the body, where it may be difficult or impossible to remove. Fortunately, the development and FDA approval of highly cohesive silicone gel breast implants has eliminated the risk of silicone leaking into the body in the case of a rupture. The silicone bonds in these new implants are so strong that the implant will retain its shape even if cut in half.

What to Do if You Think a Rupture Has Occurred

If you believe that one or both of your implants have ruptured, it is important that you go to your plastic surgeon or another qualified surgeon as soon as possible. A ruptured implant should be removed promptly to reduce the risk of developing additional scar tissue, which could require a more extensive surgery in order to be removed. If it is confirmed that a rupture has occurred, breast revision surgery will be scheduled. During breast revision surgery, the ruptured implant will be removed and, if desired, replaced with a new implant.

At our Alabama office, plastic surgery specialists Dr. Robert I. Oliver and Dr. Jason M. Jack are certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and routinely perform breast revision surgery. They are dedicated to making sure that each and every patient is completely satisfied with their results. If you are concerned that your implant has ruptured, please schedule a consultation with Plastic Surgery Specialists by calling (205) 298­8660 or filling out our contact form today.