Breast implants can increase breast size and enhance their shape and aesthetics. However, they won’t last forever. You’ll likely need to replace them at some point. Rupture is one of the most common reasons for breast implant replacement. If the silicone shell weakens and tears, the inner contents can leak into the surrounding tissues, causing irritation, tenderness, pain, and other symptoms. The breast may also lose its shape.
When your implant ruptures, you can get it removed and replaced through revision surgery.
On this page
- What Is Breast Implant Rupture?
- What Causes Breast Implant Rupture?
- What Are the Signs of Breast Implant Rupture?
- What Happens After Implant Rupture?
- What Does Implant Rupture Revision Surgery Involve?
- What Is Post-Surgery Recovery Like?
- FAQs About Breast Implant Rupture and Revision Surgery
What Is Breast Implant Rupture?
Breast implant rupture is precisely what the name suggests. Most breast implants have a silicone shell that contains the saline or silicone contents inside the implant. This shell can break (rupture), causing the contents of the implant to leak into your body. The rupture may go unnoticed since the implants are surrounded by other cells and tissues. Silent ruptures are common with silicone implants. Saline implant ruptures are easily noticeable.
What Causes Breast Implant Rupture?
Most implant ruptures occur due to damage by surgical instruments during the initial surgery. You need experienced plastic surgeons to perform your breast implant and avoid amateur mistakes that can result in ruptures. Damage by surgical instruments accounts for 50% to 64% of all cases of breast implant rupture. Other reasons include trauma, like car accidents or needle insertion during a biopsy. The risk of rupture also increases when your implants are older.
What Are the Signs of Breast Implant Rupture?
The signs of implant rupture depend on your breast implant type. Saline breast implants will leak out quickly (a few days). The contents will leak into the surrounding tissues, and the salt water will be absorbed by the body. Symptoms include changes in the breast size, which may appear deflated, pain, tenderness, numbness, tingling, and burning sensation.
Silicone implants often result in silent ruptures that are easily identifiable to the naked eye. Since the silicone gel is thicker, it tends to stay inside the implant shell, causing no issue. However, in rare cases, the silicone can escape into the breast pocket — or even worse — into the body. This is uncommon with modern silicone implants, but it is still something to be aware of.
Popular symptoms include changes in breast shape and size, lumps, firmness, swelling, and pain.
Most often, ruptures are only found during MRIs. This is why scans are recommended every few years.
What Happens After Implant Rupture?
You should talk to your plastic surgeon immediately if you notice breast implant rupture symptoms. Ruptures can be treated with breast revision surgery, which involves removing and replacing the damaged implant with a new one. If you have a saline implant, you can replace it with a silicone gel implant and vice-versa. Some patients even remove the implants without replacing them. Or, you can choose breast lift surgery.
What Does Implant Rupture Revision Surgery Involve?
Breast implant rupture revision surgery involves removing the damaged implant. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will remove the implant shell from the breast pocket. For silicone implants, the surgeon will try to remove loose silicone gels that can be removed safely. If you have saline implants, only the shell will be removed since the saltwater is absorbed by the body.
Replacing the Implant
Breast implant replacement is an optional procedure you can choose after the damaged implant is removed. Your surgeon will clean the area and insert a new breast implant. Usually, the same type of implant (saline and silicone) is used, but you can switch. The plastic surgeon will help you determine the ideal option.
Breast Lift Surgery
If you don’t want to replace the damaged implant, you can have both removed and choose breast lift surgery. The surgery removes excess skin left behind when you take out the implants. Breast lift surgery also repositions the breast to a more aesthetic level, although it won’t be as full as an implant.
What Is Post-Surgery Recovery Like?
Implant rupture revision surgery has a longer recovery than the initial breast augmentation surgery. Post-procedure bruising, swelling, and skin discoloration are normal. Your plastic surgeon will also prescribe pain medication to alleviate the initial discomfort. You’ll need a surgical bra for a few weeks to boost blood flow and expedite healing. Most people can resume normal schedules within 10 days, but you should avoid physical activity for at least a month.
FAQs About Breast Implant Rupture and Revision Surgery
Is a breast implant rupture dangerous?
Usually no. A ruptured breast implant isn’t a good thing since you’ll lose your breast’s aesthetic shape and size. However, it doesn’t pose any threat to your health. Saline solutions are sterile and will be absorbed into your body. The silicone gels should stay in its shell and can be removed with a capsulectomy (a technique used during breast implant removal that allows your surgeon to remove the implant, scar tissue, and any silicone that may have escaped).
How long does a breast implant rupture revision surgery take?
The length of implant rupture revision surgery varies depending on the client and type of revision. Most surgeries take 1 to 2 hours and are outpatient, so you can go home soon after the revision. Your surgeon will provide recovery instructions, but most people return to work 1 to 2 weeks after their revision surgery.
How do you tell if a breast implant has ruptured?
You’ll notice a sudden change in breast size and shape if you have saline implants. Silicone implant ruptures can cause lumps, pain, tenderness, and tingling. However, you’ll need imaging tests like MRI to conclusively determine if your implants have ruptured. Contact your surgeon immediately if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Is breast implant rupture revision surgery safe?
Yes. Breast implant rupture revision surgery is safe if performed by an experienced plastic surgeon. However, like most plastic surgeries, complications may occur. Concerns include reaction to anesthesia, bruising, infection, changes to breast/nipple sensation, and implant deflation. Your surgeon will monitor your recovery to help resolve any complications.