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Breast implants can withstand a tremendous amount of pressure and movement without complications. Implants consist of silicone gel or saline that is encased in a silicone shell. If this shell gets a fold in it or experiences trauma, there is a chance that it can tear. This is known as a rupture. Unfortunately, there is often nothing that you can do to prevent it. The good news is that implant ruptures are not harmful to your body and can be repaired.

Illustration of Ruptured Implant Breast Asymmetry

What Causes a Ruptured Implant?

Implants can rupture at any point in their lifetime. Normal wear and tear, extreme trauma to the chest after an accident, pressure during a mammogram, capsule formation causing the implant to fold, and damage to the implant during the initial placement or an additional surgery can all result in a rupture.

How Can You Identify a Ruptured Implant?

An implant rupture is considered either visible or silent, usually depending on the implant material. With a saline rupture, the saline solution inside can escape through a small tear in the shell, resulting in the noticeable deflation of the implant. This is referred to as a visible rupture. Silicone ruptures are often more challenging to diagnose because the silicone gel tends to remain in place after a tear has occurred. This is considered a silent rupture because it is not immediately noticeable, and is often only diagnosed through an MRI or ultrasound. Occasionally, silicone ruptures can lead to physical side effects including swelling or irritation of the breast tissue, changes in the shape of the breast, hardening of the area, or tingling around the implant or armpit. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your surgeon right away.

What Should Be Done?

Although some women who discover a silent rupture choose to postpone treatment to see if the issue worsens, most women prefer to undergo implant replacement or removal surgery. The replacement surgery is performed much in the same way as your initial breast augmentation. Here, the damaged implant is removed from the chest before a new implant is inserted. In the case of a ruptured silicone implant, the implant and often the capsule around the implant are removed. This is called a capsulectomy. Revision surgery is usually performed through the inframammary fold for the best exposure during surgery.

If you think you may have a ruptured implant, contact Dr. Hiatt by calling (480) 844-1410 or by filling out our online contact form.