January 31, 2024

What Happens when a Breast Implant Ruptures?

Breast implants are one of most common cosmetic surgeries performed every year. They can make a huge difference in a person’s self-confidence and satisfaction with their looks. However, these procedures carry risks, and anyone interested should take time to consider the possible consequences.

Breast implant ruptures do happen and are serious, but the good news is that they can usually be detected and addressed before they cause any serious complications. If you have questions about what happens when a breast implant ruptures, a board certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Steele can help guide you through your options.

Why do Breast Implants Rupture?

The implants used for breast augmentation are not designed to last forever. Dr. Steele advises his patients that most women will require a secondary breast implant surgery within 10-20 years after placement of their implants. The FDA recommends periodic screening with MRI to detect silent or occult implant rupture. While uncommon, breast implants may rupture after suffering severe physical trauma like a car accident. The most common reason for implant rupture is a breakdown of the outer silicone shell over time.

Signs of Ruptured Breast Implant

Saline implants have a silicone outer shell that can puncture and a valve that could fail or cause leakage. It is usually evident when a saline breast implant ruptures because the body quickly absorbs the saltwater. When this happens, the breast will rapidly deflate and become noticeably smaller.

Silicone implant ruptures are often harder to detect. Modern silicone implants like gummy bear inserts are highly cohesive and rarely ever breach the scar capsule that surrounds the implant. Symptoms of a ruptured silicone implant develop gradually over time. Examples of common side effects of ruptured breast implants include pain, swelling, or changes in breast shape that may indicate a capsular contracture.

However, some silicone ruptures are referred to as “silent” because they show no symptoms. For this reason, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people with silicone implants get regularly tested by MRI to screen for occult implant rupture. If a prospective patient wants more information about common signs of breast implant rupture, Dr. Steele can help provide reassurance and answers.

Risks from Implant Breakage

There are no systemic risks with a breast implant rupture. With a saline implant, the body simply absorbs the saline, and the silicone shell stays inside the scar capsule that naturally forms around any foreign device. With a silicone implant rupture, the highly cohesive silicone almost always stays within the capsule. This may cause tightening of the scar capsule which is known as capsular contracture. Typical symptoms include pain, malposition of the implant, firmness of the breast, and a change in breast shape. While rare, extracapsular spread of silicone into the breast tissue may cause palpable nodules in the breast with the possibility of swollen lymph nodes in the axilla/arm pit. It is recommended that the implant and scar capsule be removed (through capsulectomy) with the possibility of placing new implants.

Learn More about what to do when a Breast Implant Ruptures

If you are worried about what happens when a breast implant ruptures, the best thing you can do is talk to a plastic surgeon who has experience dealing with these issues. In most situations, a surgeon will remove the scar capsule and rupture implants, while replacing them with new silicone gel filled implants.

Regardless of the circumstances, you should consider removing the ruptured implants. Acting immediately could help guarantee a healthy outcome. Speak with a team member today to learn more.