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What to Do if Your Breast Implant Ruptures

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Breast implants, whether silicone or saline, are not permanent devices. Given enough time (up to 30 years or more), an implant will break down or deflate. That is the given reality and is true of most everything. However, implants can last a very long time — especially the modern-day highly cohesive silicone ones. 

hand holding a ruptured breast implant.

So, how would you know if your implant is no longer intact?

How to Recognize a Breast Implant Rupture

If you have saline breast implants, detecting this is usually very easy. Typically, the implant will deflate over a short period of time — hours to a few days — resulting in a noticeable decrease in the size of your affected breast. The resultant difference in the size of the two breasts can be quite significant.

On the other hand, with the loss of integrity of silicone breast implants, there may be no discernible change in size or shape. With the more recent highly cohesive silicone implants, the gel usually stays in place should a wearing down of the implant shell occur.

The development of firmness of the breast, known as capsular contracture, can occur with implant rupture, but this is a very non-specific finding.

Silent Rupture and MRI Screenings

Because there is most often little-to-no change in the breast when silicone implants have lost their integrity, this is known as “silent rupture”. Consequently, in the case of suspicion of or concern regarding the possibility of a ruptured implant or even for general screening, an MRI or ultrasound is recommended. 

What to Do if You Think Your Breast Implant Has Ruptured

If you have silicone implants and are concerned that one or both may be ruptured, you should contact your (or a) plastic surgeon for an evaluation. If they believe that this may be a possibility, they will likely order an MRI or ultrasound.

Your Options to Address Ruptured Breast Implants

So one or both of your breast implants are ruptured. Now what?

You do have a few options to consider. These include:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Remove the ruptured breast implant and do not replace (explantation)
  3. Remove the ruptured breast implant(s) and replace with new ones (implant exchange)
  4. Perform an ancillary or additional procedure to #2 or #3

Doing nothing is a choice but not generally a wise one. If it is determined that your breast implant has ruptured/lost its integrity, it is virtually always recommended to remove the affected implant. This is especially true of silicone implants where there will be free silicone outside the implant envelope. 

Knowing that one or both of your implants (especially silicone ones) are ruptured, it is recommended to remove it/them (explantation) and any free silicone within the breast implant pocket. If there is an indication to remove the scar tissue around the implant, known as a capsulectomy, this would be done at the same time.

At the same time the implant(s) is/are removed, you can elect to have new replacement ones placed — a procedure known as an implant exchange. There are some situations where the new implants will have to be placed at a later date.

Finally, whether or not you have new implants placed following the explantation, you may also benefit from a mastopexy done at the same time (if your breasts are droopy). The safety and prudence of this can be determined in discussion with your plastic surgeon.

Breast Rupture Correction in Phoenix, AZ

Dr. Steven Turkeltaub is a highly respected breast surgery specialist in Scottsdale serving the Greater Phoenix area. 

If you are interested in breast enhancement, breast revision surgery, or explantation, you can contact our office at (480) 451-3000 or via email.