Has My Silicone Implant Ruptured?
When it comes to the ability to determine whether a breast implant is ruptured or not, saline implants are the clear winners—though you may not necessarily be.
Why is this?
Because saline implants are filled with a sterile saline solution, so when the implant shell develops a small tear or hole, the fluid leaks out. The larger the opening, the more rapidly the fluid will exit the implant and the smaller the implant and breast become. Deflation of the implant usually occurs over a period of several hours to a few days. The increasing difference in size between the two breasts is usually quite apparent and easily recognized.
And somewhat disheartening.
Silicone breast implant ruptures are essentially the opposite of what is experienced with the saline ones. When they “rupture” or break down, there is absolutely no change in size, appearance, feel, or shape, especially with the latest generation of cohesive implants. The gel remains largely adherent, though over time there can be very small amounts seen outside of the implant shell. This is why the loss of silicone implant integrity is also known as a “silent” rupture—there are no apparent signs that it has occurred.
What Are the Symptoms?
As noted above, at least early on, there are absolutely no tell-tale signs that a silicone implant has lost its integrity. Over time, perhaps months or even years, though some changes may be able to be detected if one knows what to look for. This is particularly true of older generation implants that were less cohesive than the ones available today.
These signs can include changes in shape or projection and increased hardness or softness of the breast. Usually, there is little to no difference seen in breast volume even with time.
How Can I Tell if My Breast Implant is Intact or Ruptured?
Mammograms are not usually very effective in detecting whether a silicone implant is intact or not, particularly early on. There is a high percentage of false negatives (in this situation, the mammogram doesn’t detect a rupture when there is actually one present). Digital ultrasounds and MRIs are far more accurate for making the diagnosis, though the latter is a bit expensive.
Can You Repair a Ruptured Silicone Implant?
There is no way to “repair” a ruptured, worn down implant. Instead, if you know that your implant has lost its integrity, your two best choices are either replacing it with a new one (implant exchange) or just permanently removing it (explantation). This choice is yours. If you do elect to have a new implant placed, you have the opportunity to make changes such as size and profile.
The En Bloc Method of Implant Removal
En Bloc implant removal can be performed on women with a ruptured silicone implant when the contents of the implant are contained within the tissue capsule. This technique involves the removal of the tissue capsule and the implant with any contained free silicone as one unit.