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What Happens If A Breast Implant Ruptures?

What happens when a breast implant ruptures, what does it feel like, and what can you do? We explore everything you need to know.

Tagged: Body & Breast

Date: 30th January 2023

Medically Reviewed by:  Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396)

Last reviewed: 8th September 2023

If you have ever considered having breast implants, it is highly likely that you have asked yourself the question ‘can breast implants rupture’?


Although it is a rare complication, there is always a risk of breast implant rupture with silicone or saline implants. So it is important that you know the signs and symptoms to look out for so you can identify a ruptured breast implant and seek prompt medical assistance.

How do you know if a breast implant is ruptured?

There are two types of breast implants:

  • Saline implants
  • Silicone implants

Both of these types of implants have very different symptoms that may indicate a rupture, so it’s important to know what to look out for for your specific procedure.

 

How to tell if a saline breast implant has ruptured

Saline breast implants are filled with sterile salt water and in the event the implant should rupture, the body will absorb this liquid with no risk to health. If a saline breast implant ruptures, it becomes obvious very quickly as it can result in a dramatic change in the appearance of the breast. The affected breast will effectively ‘deflate’, losing its size and changing shape. This may happen over the course of several days.

 

How to tell if a silicone breast implant has ruptured

Silicone implants are more expensive than saline implants and are more durable, offering a more natural look and feel. As silicone is thicker than saline, any leaks tend to stay inside the implant when it ruptures, so a silicone breast implant rupture is not always obvious. This is known as a silent rupture. Symptoms of a ruptured silicone implant can include a decrease in breast size, pain, tenderness, numbness, swelling, burning or changes in sensation in the breast. But a silicone breast implant rupture won’t always cause symptoms. An imaging scan, such as an MRI or ultrasound, will be able to confirm a suspected rupture.

Is a ruptured breast implant dangerous?

If a saline implant ruptures, then the water is safely reabsorbed into the body, with no ill-effects. 

As far as silicone breast implants are concerned, a silent rupture is not considered a medical emergency, but you should see your surgeon as soon as possible. 

Sometimes a ruptured breast implant can cause capsular contracture. This is caused by your body's reaction to the implant. It recognises the implant as a foreign body and hardened scar tissue forms around the implant. Common signs of this include tightness, pain, tenderness and abnormal changes to the appearance of the affected breast. Leaking silicone may also migrate to other parts of the body if the leak is not dealt with promptly.

There is no evidence to suggest that ruptured breast implants cause breast cancer, reproductive problems, rheumatoid arthritis or any other problems with connective tissue.

What should I do if I suspect my breast implant has ruptured?

If you suspect your breast implant has ruptured, you should contact your surgeon straightaway. Ruptured breast implants will need to be removed or replaced as soon as a rupture is diagnosed. By getting the problem treated promptly, less scar tissue will form.

How is a breast implant rupture treated?

Breast implant rupture is treated by removing the ruptured implant or implants and replacing them, if that is what the patient wants. 

Breast implant replacement surgery may be done to correct complications, such as breast implant rupture, or in combination with other procedures, most commonly a breast lift or mastopexy. Implants can also be replaced to change the size or shape of the breasts, depending on patient preference. Breast implants can be removed and replaced during the same procedure. 

Breast implant replacement surgery typically takes place under general anaesthetic and lasts between one and two hours depending on the size and shape of the replacement implants, the surgical technique and whether any combination surgery is carried out at the same time, for example, a breast lift.

The surgeon will remove the original implants via incisions made on the original scar site. If the new implant is similar to the ruptured one in terms of size and shape, then the existing capsule will suffice. If the new implant is different from the original implant, then surgery is more complex as the capsule will need to be enlarged or reduced in order to accommodate the new implant. This means the surgery will take longer. 

Following breast implant removal surgery, a patient will have bandages and sometimes drains on the affected area. Women who have undergone this procedure must wear a support bra or compression garment for the duration of the recovery period in order to reduce swelling following surgery.

The results of the breast implant removal surgery will depend upon the size of the implant removed and the quality and quantity of the remaining breast tissue. Sometimes scar tissue will also need to be removed during this procedure. 

This process is slightly different for if your breast implant has moved, though this is still a correctional surgery we can perform too.

Why choose Cadogan Clinic

When it comes to making a decision about which provider or surgeon to select as your chosen preference for your breast implant removal or replacement procedure, safety and quality of care are typically the most important considerations to think about. When considering whether to go via the NHS or private for your implant removal and/or replacement surgery, you should also think about any clinics’ and surgeon’s level of experience with these kinds of procedures.

 

Choosing surgical excellence

If you decide to undergo breast implant replacement or removal surgery, it is important you choose a surgeon with the right training, skills and insurance to safely carry out the procedure. Only registered doctors can perform cosmetic surgery in England. A reputable cosmetic surgeon will be registered with a professional association such as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).

You should always book a consultation before deciding to have a breast implant replacement, breast implant removal or any other surgery. An in-depth consultation will offer you the opportunity to ask questions around the cost of your breast implant removal and replacement or about the procedure, recovery and any potential risks.

We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.

At the Cadogan Clinic we only work with the very best surgeons and nursing staff at our specialist facilities in Chelsea, London. Our emphasis is on providing safe, high quality surgery and excellent value for money to all of our patients.


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