Symptoms of a ruptured Breast Implant – How to diagnose and treat Breast Implant Rupture
- Do you think you have ruptured your breast implant?
- Do you have chronic pain or aches in your breast?
- Is your breast implant misshapen or unusually deflated?
Breast implants usually last a lifetime without causing any problems. Nevertheless, saline or silicone implants may sustain a tear or a hole due to a variety of reasons, and the implant contents can leak out to surrounding breast tissue. This is called breast implant rupture, and it’s important to recognize the possible signs in order to identify the problem and seek proper help early on.
Breast Implant Rupture Symptoms can vary depending on the type of implant you’ve received during breast augmentation – a saline or silicone implant. Once you get diagnosed, you can discuss the various treatment options with your plastic surgeon to regain your best look and healthy lifestyle.
What can cause your breast implant to rupture?
Breast implants are usually very resilient and do not rupture easily. However, implants may rupture for any of the following reasons:
- Intense physical trauma to the breast, such as a car accident, can lead to breast implant rupture
- Normal ageing of certain types of implants can eventually lead to some wear and tear, and cause the implant to rupture. As implants typically last 10 years or more, this can be accelerated by insertion of the wrong implant size or inferior type of implant.
- Accidental perforation during the initial implant surgery is thought to be responsible for half of the cases of breast implant rupture. The implant can sustain a microscopic perforation during insertion, which in turn becomes larger and leads to frank rupture later on.
- Accidental perforation during a breast biopsy for reasons unrelated to the breast implant, such as when your doctor is investigating a certain breast mass.
- Compression during a mammogram may be one of the causes, so you might want to alert the technician to be careful while performing the test
Physical manipulation that is not traumatic and things like coughing or sneezing do NOT usually cause breast implants to rupture. A lot more energy is needed for the incident to occur.
What are the symptoms of breast implant rupture?
Symptoms can defer based on whether you have a silicone or a saline breast implant, however, a lot of them can overlap:
- Losing breast size: this is particularly noticeable with saline implants, where the implants can fully deflate within 2 or 3 days after sustaining a perforation, and the saline solution leaks out and becomes completely absorbed by the surrounding tissue. This abrupt loss in breast size will immediately alert you that your breast implant has ruptured. Saline solution is just salt water and does not cause any problems if absorbed by your body.
- Misshapen breast: If you have a ruptured silicone implant, you might not notice any loss in size for a long time. The reason is that silicone is a thick gel-like material that is not absorbed by your body, so it tends to stay in place even if the implant has ruptured. Nevertheless, your body will try to contain the free silicone seeping in your breast tissue by forming scar tissue around it, called “granulomas” or “silicomas”. Over time, this scar tissue growing around the free silicone can form hard capsules and contractures, causing your breast shape to change by noticeable deformities.
- Pain in your breast: pain can be caused by the material pushing against the normal breast tissue and underlying muscle, inflammation, or stretching of the overlying skin due to loss of breast size and breast drooping.
- Breast lumps: Specifically with silicone implants, even if the breast shape and size are unchanged, discovering a new lump can be a sign of implant rupture and is worth investigating.
How is breast implant rupture diagnosed?
If you think your breast implant has ruptured, you should immediately call your plastic surgeon and let them know of your concerns. Your doctor will ask you make a consultation appointment to undergo a thorough physical exam. If they suspect that you might have a ruptured breast implant, your plastic surgeon might order an MRI or Ultrasound of the breasts. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is considered the best imaging modality for assessing breast implants. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat expensive and might rarely miss perforations, especially if they are small.
How is breast implant rupture treated?
If your breast implant has ruptured, you will need to visit an experienced plastic surgeon for corrective surgery. The corrective surgery for breast implant rupture is complicated and more technically demanding than the initial implant surgery.
During explantation surgery, a plastic surgeon will make an incision in your breast and remove the ruptured implant. If you had had a silicone implant, the surgeon will remove any granulomas and scar tissue that formed after its rupture. Most surgeons remove the implant in your other breast as well.
Your plastic surgeon might offer you new implants during the same surgery, usually of a different type. You can also discuss other breast augmentation techniques, such as fat transfer to your breasts.
Ruptured breast implants are not very common, and are usually easily dealt with by experienced plastic surgeons, especially if the problem is discovered early on. If you have any concerns regarding your breast implants or questions you would like to ask one of our plastic surgeons, give us a call, or book an appointment to get a full assessment.
Visit the Breast Implant Removal Webpage for more information
Further Reading and Medical Sources:
- PRS Article on Breast implant rupture: causes, incidence, clinical impact, and management Nov 2013
- Article on Breast Implant Rupture by Breast Cancer Org
- Article on Silicon Breast Implant rupture – A Review by GLAND Journal
Finding a Breast Implant Surgeon in London
For many women in United Kingdom, having breast implants is a life-changing experience. There are many qualified doctors, but it is always best to find one who is experienced in breast augmentation procedures. Breast implants come in many different shapes and sizes, and there are various insertion techniques, so find a reputable practitioner who can give good advice on the right implants for you. Before considering breast implants, it is wise to find a surgeon who is also up to speed with new non-invasive techniques for boosting the breasts, so you can investigate all the options before deciding on permanent surgical implants.
Please avoid choosing a cheaper overseas option that lacks the ongoing support that a United Kingdom surgeon provides.
Always Look for an experienced surgeon that you feel comfortable with and get a second opinion.
About Mr Mark Gittos FRACS (Plast) – London Plastic Surgeons
Practice locations in London & Essex, UK and Auckland, New Zealand.
With world-wide expertise Mr Gittos is an expert in breast, face and body surgery for men & women.
Mr Mark Gittos is a leading Specialist Plastic Surgeon and operates a practice in London UK and Auckland New Zealand. His practice focuses on both surgical and non-surgical procedures, each designed to help restore, improve or change a physical characteristic or problem. The first step in every case is to talk through your personal requirements and explore all the options, before deciding on the most effective solution.
Naturally, before any treatment is begun, we will explain clearly the advantages and risk factors; so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you. Visit the practice to find out more.
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