Should You Worry About Your Breast Implants Rupturing?
The idea of a breast implant rupture can be scary, especially for prospective patients of breast augmentation. Like any plastic surgery complication, however, ruptures are largely misunderstood and very preventable. With the proper tools and information, your breast implants don’t have to be at risk for a rupture.
If you’ve been considering breast augmentation, you should educate yourself as much as possible about proper implant care and how to prevent damage.
Is There a Difference Between Saline and Silicone Ruptures?
A rupture can occur in both a saline and a silicone breast implant, but the experiences are very different. Saline implant ruptures are often noticeable right away, since the breast will change its shape rapidly in a matter of just days. A ruptured saline implant will leak saltwater into the breast, which can safely be absorbed by the body.
A silicone breast implant may rupture unnoticed, gradually leaking the silicone into the body. They are only detectable with an MRI, so patients with this type of implant are advised to have their breasts scanned every three years. Silicone ruptures can even leak outside of the breasts into the lymph nodes, although research shows this does not increase the risk of disease. To effectively treat a ruptured silicone breast implant, your surgeon will have to replace the implant and remove all of the leaked silicone from your body.
Why Are Ruptured Implants Replaced?
A ruptured breast implant is damaged and must be replaced. Firstly, the contents of your implant will leak out, depleting its volume and often leaving your breast uneven in size and appearance. If your implant isn’t performing its primary function anymore, you would want to replace it anyway.
Ruptured implants can also pose a safety risk. While saline implants will leak fluids into the breasts, silicone leaks can lead to small granulomas in the breasts. Often, these may mimic breast tumors and the effects of breast cancer. Not only can this be scary for any patient, but it can also lead to many expensive tests and treatments down the road. The best practice is to replace an implant at the first sign of damage or rupture.
What Causes A Breast Implant to Rupture?
Breast implants are meant to look and feel natural, almost becoming a part of the body itself. As such, they can handle the occasion bump, hug, and other everyday wear. But why do some women experience ruptures without any warning? Do you need to be worried about every impact as long as you have implants? Some of the biggest causes of implant rupture include:
- Fatigue and breakage of the implant shell, often near a crease that is being folded and unfolded frequently.
- A faulty valve in a saline implant, a far less common problem with today’s models.
- A powerful and sudden impact, like hitting the steering wheel in a car accident.
- Improper placement by the plastic surgeon.
- Textured implant surfaces, which may ripple and crease more, increasing the chances of leaking.
How Can I Protect Myself Against a Rupture?
The above list is just a cursory one of the potential issues that may face your implants during their lifetime. Basically, there are three different types of risks that can increase the chances of an implant rupture, many of which can be avoided: surgical errors, natural causes, and medical complications.
First, surgical errors account for a large number of implant ruptures. Your plastic surgeon plays a huge role in the lifetime of your implants, so choosing an experienced, board certified surgeon is your best method of protection. The steps your surgeon takes can lead to a future leakage, such as improper placement, over-handling during surgery, damage from surgical tools, and under- or overfilling a saline implant. Carefully select your surgeon and check his patient satisfaction record, board certification, testimonials and public records to see how well he protects his patients’ implants during the procedure.
Natural causes are a little harder to avoid, but can sometimes be avoided if you’re aware of your risks. Physical traumas, repetitive wear and tear, and capsular contracture can lead to a rupture if you’re not careful. Don’t put yourself at risk for a potential accident as much as possible. Talk with your surgeon before your procedure about any regular activities that you participate in, like running or climbing. You never know what may affect your implants, so give your surgeon as much information as possible so he can choose the right type of implant and placement for you. Finally, capsular contracture occurs when excessive scar tissue forms around the implant and causes extra pressure. Massage your breasts regularly after surgery to keep the surrounding soft and malleable. Alert your plastic surgeon if you notice the formation of hardened scar tissue so that he can intervene before a rupture occurs.
The last cause of breast implant ruptures is complications from a medical procedure. While you have your implants, you may need to have other procedures performed. Medical treatments such as a breast biopsy, a mammogram, and fluid drainage from the breasts can cause a rupture. Make your physicians aware of your implants so they are able to work around them if possible.
Choose the Right Surgeon to Protect Your Implants
Rupture is definitely a risk of having breast implants, but not one that can’t be minimized through your own choices. If you’re ready to plan for your breast augmentation, it’s time to meet with the right surgeon. Consult with Dr. Ronald Lohner, an experienced and board certified plastic surgeon based in Philadelphia who offers male breast reductions to his patients as a solution for gynecomastia. He completed his undergraduate education at Dartmouth College and medical school at UMDNJ-Rutgers. Currently, Dr. Lohner is Chief of Plastic Surgery at Bryn Mawr Hospital and holds a faculty appointment at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine. His peers have selected him as a Philadelphia area Top Doctor for the last eight years. His office is located at [primary_address] in [primary_city], [primary_statefull], on the Main Line. Please call his office at [primary_phone] to schedule a consultation.