Symptoms of a ruptured Breast Implant – How to diagnose and treat Breast Implant Rupture
- Do you think you have ruptured your breast implant?
- Do you have chronic pain or aches in your breast?
- Is your breast implant misshapen or unusually deflated?
Breast implants usually last a lifetime without causing any problems. Nevertheless, saline or silicone implants may sustain a tear or a hole due to a variety of reasons, and the implant contents can leak out to surrounding breast tissue. This is called breast implant rupture, and it’s important to recognize the possible signs in order to identify the problem and seek proper help early on.
Breast Implant Rupture Symptoms can vary depending on the type of implant you’ve received during breast augmentation – a saline or silicone implant. Once you get diagnosed, you can discuss the various treatment options with your plastic surgeon to regain your best look and healthy lifestyle.
Download Dr Mark Gittos’ Guide to Cosmetic Breast Surgery
What can cause your breast implant to rupture?
Breast implants are usually very resilient and do not rupture easily. However, implants may rupture for any of the following reasons:
- Intense physical trauma to the breast, such as a car accident, can lead to breast implant rupture
- Normal ageing of certain types of implants can eventually lead to some wear and tear, and cause the implant to rupture. As implants typically last 10 years or more, this can be accelerated by insertion of the wrong implant size or inferior type of implant.
- Accidental perforation during the initial implant surgery is thought to be responsible for half of the cases of breast implant rupture. The implant can sustain a microscopic perforation during insertion, which in turn becomes larger and leads to frank rupture later on.
- Accidental perforation during a breast biopsy for reasons unrelated to the breast implant, such as when your doctor is investigating a certain breast mass.
- Compression during a mammogram may be one of the causes, so you might want to alert the technician to be careful while performing the test
Physical manipulation that is not traumatic and things like coughing or sneezing do NOT usually cause breast implants to rupture. A lot more energy is needed for the incident to occur.
What are the symptoms of breast implant rupture?
Symptoms can defer based on whether you have a silicone or a saline breast implant, however, a lot of them can overlap:
- Losing breast size: this is particularly noticeable with saline implants, where the implants can fully deflate within 2 or 3 days after sustaining a perforation, and the saline solution leaks out and becomes completely absorbed by the surrounding tissue. This abrupt loss in breast size will immediately alert you that your breast implant has ruptured. Saline solution is just salt water and does not cause any problems if absorbed by your body.
- Misshapen breast: If you have a ruptured silicone implant, you might not notice any loss in size for a long time. The reason is that silicone is a thick gel-like material that is not absorbed by your body, so it tends to stay in place even if the implant has ruptured. Nevertheless, your body will try to contain the free silicone seeping in your breast tissue by forming scar tissue around it, called “granulomas” or “silicomas”. Over time, this scar tissue growing around the free silicone can form hard capsules and contractures, causing your breast shape to change by noticeable deformities.
- Pain in your breast: pain can be caused by the material pushing against the normal breast tissue and underlying muscle, inflammation, or stretching of the overlying skin due to loss of breast size and breast drooping.
- Breast lumps: Specifically with silicone implants, even if the breast shape and size are unchanged, discovering a new lump can be a sign of implant rupture and is worth investigating.
How is breast implant rupture diagnosed?
If you think your breast implant has ruptured, you should immediately call your plastic surgeon and let them know of your concerns. Your doctor will ask you make a consultation appointment to undergo a thorough physical exam. If they suspect that you might have a ruptured breast implant, your plastic surgeon might order an MRI or Ultrasound of the breasts. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is considered the best imaging modality for assessing breast implants. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat expensive and might rarely miss perforations, especially if they are small.
How is breast implant rupture treated?
If your breast implant has ruptured, you will need to visit an experienced plastic surgeon for corrective surgery. The corrective surgery for breast implant rupture is complicated and more technically demanding than the initial implant surgery.
During explantation surgery, a plastic surgeon will make an incision in your breast and remove the ruptured implant. If you had had a silicone implant, the surgeon will remove any granulomas and scar tissue that formed after its rupture. Most surgeons remove the implant in your other breast as well.
Your plastic surgeon might offer you new implants during the same surgery, usually of a different type. You can also discuss other breast augmentation techniques, such as fat transfer to your breasts.
Ruptured breast implants are not very common, and are usually easily dealt with by experienced plastic surgeons, especially if the problem is discovered early on. If you have any concerns regarding your breast implants or questions you would like to ask one of our plastic surgeons, give us a call, or book an appointment to get a full assessment.
Visit the Breast Implant Removal Webpage for more information
Further Reading and Medical Sources:
- PRS Article on Breast implant rupture: causes, incidence, clinical impact, and management Nov 2013
- Article on Breast Implant Rupture by Breast Cancer Org
- Article on Silicon Breast Implant rupture – A Review by GLAND Journal
Finding a Breast Implant Surgeon in Auckland
For many women in New Zealand, having breast implants is a life-changing experience. There are many qualified doctors, but it is always best to find one who is experienced in breast augmentation procedures. Breast implants come in many different shapes and sizes, and there are various insertion techniques, so find a reputable practitioner who can give good advice on the right implants for you. Before considering breast implants, it is wise to find a surgeon who is also up to speed with new non-invasive techniques for boosting the breasts, so you can investigate all the options before deciding on permanent surgical implants.
Please avoid choosing a cheaper overseas option that lacks the ongoing support that a New Zealand surgeon provides.
Always Look for an experienced surgeon that you feel comfortable with and get a second opinion.
About Dr Mark Gittos FRACS (Plast) – New Zealand Plastic Surgeon
Practice locations in Herne Bay Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty – Kerikeri, Whangarei, New Plymouth & Tauranga
Dr Mark Gittos is a leading Specialist Plastic Surgeon and operates a practice in Herne Bay, Auckland and in the UK. The practice focuses on both surgical and non-surgical procedures, each designed to help restore, improve or change a physical characteristic or problem. The first step in every case is to talk through your personal requirements and explore all the options, before deciding on the most effective solution.
Dr Mark Gittos offers high quality, natural-looking cosmetic surgery results and is highly experienced in Breast, Body and Face Surgery having performed over 4000 Surgeries in the last 26 years. With worldwide expertise Dr Gittos is an expert in breast, face and body surgery for men & women.
Naturally, before any treatment is begun, we will explain clearly the advantages and risk factors; so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you. Visit the practice to find out more.
Please NOTE: Dr Gittos only performs surgery on non-smoker patients with a BMI less than 30. To check your BMI please visit the NZ Heart Foundation website. For help giving up smoking before surgery visit the Smoke Free website
Do your Research
- Read the Website and Blogs relevant to your procedure
- Browse our Frequently Asked Questions including how to choose a Surgeon for your procedure
- Download and read the FREE Guides to Surgery
What to Bring to your Plastic Surgeon Consultation
- Bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices
- Take lots of notes and read the documents provided thoroughly
- Dress in simple clothes as you may need to undress for examination
- Bring your medical referral and any relevant medical documents or test results
Book your Initial Surgery Consultation
- A Referral from your GP or specialist is helpful but NOT essential – you can have a consultation without a GP Referral
- Email us or Call on 09 529 5352 to arrange your surgeon consultation appointment.
- Book a consultation with Dr Gittos by paying the Consultation Fee – $325 incl GST
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Please contact us to arrange to book a consultation with our Specialist Plastic Surgeon or to speak with our Patient Care Advisor.