Breast Implant Rupture
Breast implant rupture is one of the most common fears our patients express during their initial breast augmentation consultation at West County Plastic Surgeons in St. Louis, Missouri. This complication, although rare, can occur following breast enhancement surgery, also known as breast augmentation mammoplasty. An implant rupture can be caused by many things, including impact to the breast, surgical error, cracks that develop over time, or, rarely, pressure exerted during a mammogram. Both saline and silicone implants are equally vulnerable to implant rupture, though the implications differ for each type, as explained below.
At West County Plastic Surgeons, we specialize in breast augmentation, and our board-certified plastic surgeons Drs. Terry Myckatyn and Marissa Tenenbaum understand the importance of early detection of an implant rupture, so they take plenty of time to help patients understand this potential complication and learn to identify the signs and symptoms of breast implant rupture. Your personal safety and satisfaction are the driving forces behind our plastic surgery practice.
Ruptured Breast Implant: What St. Louis Patients Should Know
Although both saline and silicone breast implants can tear or crack, the way we identify and treat an implant varies according to breast implant type:
Saline Implant Rupture
A saline implant rupture is generally easy to detect because the saline fluid leaks out over a short period, so the breast appearance changes quickly and noticeably. The affected breast suddenly looks smaller and deflated, and it often ripples or even folds due to lost volume. Some patients experience breast pain, changes in nipple sensation, or skin tenderness. They may even show signs of capsular contracture. Because the saline solution is sterile and natural, the body typically absorbs most of it, posing negligible health risks.
That is not to say that immediate action is not necessary, however. On the contrary, we advise all patients who suspect a saline implant rupture to schedule an appointment to diagnose the problem and treat it as soon as possible. This usually means removing and replacing the device. Performing the exchange procedure shortly after the initial implant rupture reduces the chance of scar tissue forming around the empty implant shell.
Silicone Implant Rupture
Unfortunately, silicone implant ruptures are more difficult to detect because the silicone gel does not rapidly leak from the implant. Instead, the silicone gradually seeps into the breast pocket and remains in the body, sometimes spreading to nearby lymph nodes. Some women experience pain or tenderness in the affected breast or changes in the breast contour, which are indications for further evaluation by MRI, the only way to confirm a silicone implant rupture.
However, if a patient does not experience symptoms, leaks are extremely difficult to detect—for patients and doctors alike. For this reason, West County Plastic Surgeons follows the FDA recommendations that women with silicone implants have an MRI three years after breast augmentation and every two years after that.
If MRI confirms a silicone implant rupture, what are the options? When patients have a “silent implant rupture,” or one that causes no physical discomfort, they are usually given the option of replacing the implant immediately or waiting to do so. If they are experiencing physical symptoms, their plastic surgeon will likely recommend removing the affected implant and replacing it with a new one. Some patients opt to remove both implants without replacing them, but they often combine the implant removal with a breast lift, or mastopexy surgery, to help their breasts look as beautiful as possible.
If you are concerned that you might have a hole in one or both of your breast implants, contact West County Plastic Surgeons by requesting your consultation online, emailing us or phoning our St. Louis office at (314) 996-8800today.