June  2024

Breast Implant Rupture Explained

Breast implants, both saline and silicone, have been widely used in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery for decades. Despite their durability, these implants can sometimes rupture, leading to various complications and requiring medical attention. Understanding what happens when a breast implant ruptures, how to diagnose it, and what steps to take next is crucial for anyone considering or currently having breast implants.

Differences Between Saline and Silicone Breast Implants

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Saline and silicone implants differ in their filling material and the implications of a rupture.

Saline Implants: These implants are filled with sterile salt water. If a saline implant ruptures, the saline solution leaks out and is absorbed by the body. The primary sign of a rupture is a noticeable decrease in breast size and shape, often occurring quite quickly.

Silicone Implants: These implants are filled with a thick, gel-like silicone that tends to stay in place if the implant ruptures. Because the silicone does not get absorbed by the body, ruptures can be less obvious and are often termed "silent ruptures."

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Latest Statistics on Breast Implant Rupture Rates

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the rupture rates for breast implants have been steadily decreasing due to improvements in implant technology and surgical techniques. The most recent data suggest that the risk of rupture is around 1% per year, with about 10% of implants rupturing by the ten-year mark​ (The Aesthetic Society)​​(American Society of Plastic Surgeons)​. However, these rates can vary based on factors such as the type of implant, surgical method, and individual patient factors.

Causes of Breast Implant Ruptures

Several factors can contribute to the rupture of breast implants, including:

Aging Of The Implant

 Over time, the shell of the implant can weaken, increasing the risk of rupture.

Trauma Or Impact

 Direct trauma to the breast, such as from a car accident or a fall, can cause the implant to rupture.

Surgical Error

Errors during the placement or removal of implants can lead to damage and potential rupture.

Capsular Contracture

This condition, where scar tissue around the implant tightens, can put pressure on the implant, leading to rupture.

What Is A Silent Rupture?

A "silent rupture" refers to a rupture of a silicone implant that does not produce noticeable symptoms. This can happen because the silicone gel often remains within the fibrous capsule that the body forms around the implant. Silent ruptures can still pose health risks, such as inflammation or changes in breast shape over time.

Signs And Symptoms Of  Silicone Breast Implant Rupture

While silent ruptures are common, some signs and symptoms can indicate a silicone breast implant rupture, including:

-Changes in breast shape or size
-Persistent pain or tenderness
-Lumps or hardening of the breast

Diagnosing Silicone Breast Implant Ruptures

Diagnosing a rupture in silicone breast implants can be challenging due to the phenomenon of "silent rupture," where there are no obvious symptoms. Imaging tests are crucial for diagnosis:

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

An MRI is considered the most reliable method for detecting silicone implant ruptures. The FDA recommends that women with silicone implants get an MRI three years after implantation and every two years thereafter to check for ruptures.


 This is another imaging option that can help detect implant ruptures, though it is generally considered less accurate than MRI.

How Soon Should I Replace My Ruptured Breast Implant?

When a breast implant ruptures, it typically needs to be removed or replaced. The timing of this replacement depends on various factors, such as the presence of symptoms and personal preferences. In cases of symptomatic ruptures, prompt removal is usually recommended to prevent complications. Asymptomatic silent ruptures can sometimes be monitored, but eventual replacement is often advised to avoid long-term issues.

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How Is The Procedure Performed?

The procedure to remove and replace a breast implant involves several steps:

Removal of the Ruptured Implant

The surgeon will make an incision, typically along the original scar line, to access and remove the ruptured implant.


This may involve removing the surrounding scar tissue (capsule) if it has hardened or contains leaked silicone.


A new implant is then inserted into the same pocket or a newly created one, depending on the condition of the breast tissue and the patient's preference.

You Can Revise Your Overall Aesthetic During Your Revision

Replacing implants presents an ideal opportunity to make desired changes. Patients can choose to:

Change Implant Size or Type

Opt for a different size or switch from saline to silicone implants or vice versa.

Combine Procedures

Consider additional procedures such as a breast lift to improve overall breast aesthetics.

Read More: Ready For An Upgrade? 3 Signs You Need New Breast Implants

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Don't Fear The Rupture. Get In Touch With Your Surgeon-

Understanding what happens when a breast implant ruptures, especially the differences between saline and silicone implants, is essential for those considering or currently having breast implants. Keeping informed about the causes, diagnostic methods, and steps for replacement ensures that individuals can make educated decisions about their breast health and aesthetic goals. Regular monitoring through MRI or ultrasound, awareness of the signs of rupture, and timely replacement can help maintain both the health and appearance of the breasts.

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