Last updated on November 3, 2023
Breast augmentation (breast enlargement) with implants is a popular cosmetic surgery for women who want to enhance their breast size and shape. While implants are generally safe and long-lasting, they can occasionally rupture, causing potential complications. Keep reading to find out how to know if a breast implant has ruptured and what can be done if it does.
What can cause your breast implant to rupture?
A rupture occurs when the implant’s shell develops a tear or hole. All implants, whether silicone or saline, have an outer silicone shell. Saline implants also have a valve, which may leak if compromised.
There are numerous potential causes of breast implant rupture, including:
- Trauma, such as a car accident
- Age of the implant
- A needle breast biopsy
All saline and modern silicone implants have a thick silicone shell around them; however, trauma such as a car accident or needle biopsy can cause damage, resulting in ruptures.
What are the signs and symptoms that a breast implant has ruptured?
The signs and symptoms of a rupture vary depending on whether you have saline or silicone breast implants.
You will know immediately if you have a saline implant rupture or valve failure. The saline solution from the implant will leak fast, usually in just a matter of days, and your breast will become deflated. The salt water from the saline implant is absorbed by your body with little to no adverse effects.
The thicker gel-like substance in silicone implants will leak slower, and your body can’t absorb it. The silicone gel can spread to other areas of your body, like your lungs or lymph nodes, causing common signs and symptoms such as:
- Changes in the size or shape of your breast
- Hardening of your breast
- Capsular contracture
- Small lumps (called granulomas) forming in your arm, armpit area, or chest area
Very rarely, a ruptured silicone implant may not result in any signs or symptoms at all. This is known as a “silent rupture.”
What does a ruptured breast implant look like?
Saline implant ruptures will make your breasts look deflated and cause breast drooping. You will notice these changes in a matter of days.
Silicone implant ruptures are a lot slower. Over time, you will notice your breast shape changing as the silicone gel leaks out of the silicone implants. These changes may present as a flattened shape, lumps, swelling, or inflammation.
A ruptured implant will usually present as a flattened, deflated, droopy, and decreased breast size. You may also notice redness, swelling, tenderness, and small lumps.
What to do if your breast implant has ruptured
If you suspect you have a ruptured breast implant, your cosmetic surgeon will perform a diagnostic imaging test, such as mammography, ultrasound, or an MRI scan.
Once your plastic surgeon has confirmed your implant has ruptured, they will discuss your treatment options. This is generally a choice between two types of breast surgery:
- Breast implant removal with a new implant replacement in the same surgery or
- Breast implant removal and no replacement with new implants
Now you know all about breast implant rupture.
Breast implant complications, or ruptured implants, can be scary; however, they are not often life-threatening or an emergency situation. When you know the signs and symptoms to look out for, you can seek treatment early and avoid further complications.
If you are still unsure, please reach out to your plastic surgeon and seek their advice. You can contact the expert team at Breast & Body Clinic, UK, if you have any concerns.
You can find all the frequently asked questions about ruptured implants below.
Can I have breast implants again if I have had an implant rupture?
Yes, in most cases, it is possible to have breast implants again after a rupture, but your cosmetic surgeon will need to evaluate your individual circumstances and make recommendations based on your individual needs.
Is a breast implant rupture an emergency?
While breast implant rupture is not typically considered an emergency, it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a ruptured implant to prevent further complications. This is especially important with a ruptured silicone implant, as it can create more scar tissue, lumps, infection, swelling, and pain.
Is implant rupture dangerous?
Saline breast implant rupture essentially leaks sterile saline solution into your body, which is quickly absorbed. It is not dangerous; however, your breast shape will look flat and deflated.
Silicone implant ruptures, on the other hand, leak silicone gel, which your body can’t absorb. This can cause infection, pain, swelling, capsular contracture, and increased scar tissue.
How long can you go with a ruptured breast implant?
Ideally, once you have a confirmed diagnosis of a rupture, you should book in for corrective surgery to remove it. A silicone rupture should be treated ASAP, as this creates more health complications such as extra scar tissue, breast pain, and inflammation of the breast and surrounding tissue.