What to do If Your Breast Implants Rupture
It is no question that breast implants have become safer and more durable as technique and technology in plastic surgery have advanced, however, they are not guaranteed to last a lifetime. Regardless of the type of implant, all of them have the potential to break over time. The point and time of rupture is largely dependent on the individual; in some cases, it may happen mere years after the initial procedure or several decades later. The more time that passes, the more likely an implant with break, however, it is not always obvious when it will occur. Depending on the type of implant, different requirements are to be met in order to keep your body safe, healthy and free from a breast implant rupture.
Saline Breast Implant Rupture
Once a saline implant ruptures, it will noticeably change in size and shape with the interior substance being absorbed into the body. In most cases, saline implants are harmless when ruptured because they are filled with saltwater. Many times, saline implant ruptures are obvious due to the drastic change in the shape and size of the breast. It is unlikely that an MRI or sonogram will be needed to tell if the implant has broken.
Silicone Breast Implant Rupture
Typically, when a silicone implant ruptures, the silicone gel will leak slowly and may not be obvious until months or years later. In some fortunate cases, the ruptured silicone will remain inside the capsule –a thick layer of scar tissue surrounding the implant– and will not leak into the rest of the body. However, silicone that leaks outside of the capsule can migrate to other locations including the lymph nodes under the arms as well as in major organs where it becomes impossible to remove.
When a silicone implant ruptures, there are subtle signs including a slight change in shape and size of the breast as well as a feeling of tenderness, swelling, numbness, or tingling. However, there are many cases of silent ruptures where little to no symptoms have been reported. For women with silicone gel implants, the FDA recommends MRI scans to detect any rupture after three years. Mammography and ultrasound are not reliable in evaluating silicone breasts and have been shown to give both false negatives and false positives.
The Health Risks of a Rupture
According to the FDA, a higher rate of women with leaking silicone gel implants have been reported to have symptoms for fibromyalgia and several other diseases. The longer it takes to address a ruptured silicone implant the more likely the silicone will leak into more areas of the body and cause further damage. As for saline implants, there have been no conclusive health risks associated with them, unless in the rare case it contains bacteria or fungus.
Action to Take in Case of Rupture
Removing a ruptured implant as soon as possible, especially if the implants are silicone, is the most assured step to avoid health risks. If there are signs of a fever or rash, visit your physician immediately to stop the risk of infection. Removal of silicone implants once ruptured can be a difficult process and your original surgeon may not be recommended to perform the procedure.
When looking for a cosmetic surgeon to remove the implants, choose one with experience and if possible, a comprehensive album of before and after photos to determine if the surgeon’s results match your needs. One key factor to make clear with your surgeon is the removal of not only the implants, but the scar tissue capsule as well, as it may contain bacteria or chemicals that have potential to contaminate the body. This type of removal is also known as ‘en bloc’ which means that the implants and scar tissue capsule are completely removed. Removing en bloc helps to assure the removal of all leaked silicone and chemicals that may have spread into the outer capsule (Note: Since 2007, all silicone implants are made with cohesive gel, and therefore would not leak into tissues and lymph nodes). If a patient is experiencing symptoms such as chronic flu, joint pains, memory loss, or a burning sensation en bloc removal has shown to substantially improve a patient’s health and maximize recovery.
If your breast implants have ruptured finding a surgeon that produces satisfying and long-lasting results with a corrective surgery can be a challenge. While your original cosmetic surgeon may be exceptionally experienced with breast implants, experience with removal requires a different set of skills. For the best quality breast rupture revision that restores a full, attractive appearance to the breasts contact BHPS for a consultation with Dr. Chiu.