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How to Identify a Ruptured Silicone Implant

Posted January 30, 2014 in Breast Augmentation, Plastic Surgery

woman covering breastsWhen choosing between saline and silicone implants, one important factor to consider is the risk of post-surgical complications. Although most women do not require revision surgery within the first ten years, cases of implant rupture or capsular contracture are common enough to be worth discussion. And while silicone implants are usually superior aesthetically, their ruptures can also be harder to detect.

If you have or are planning on receiving breast augmentation in the San Francisco area, we want to help you take the right precautions to achieve long-term, successful results. For silicone implants, take the following steps in order to detect any possible ruptures.

What Causes Implant Rupture?

An implant can rupture for a number of reasons. One of the most common causes is capsular contracture, where collagen fibers within the breast grow and constrict around an implant. These capsules are a natural bodily response, and can often grow without a problem. However, over time, these hardening tissues may result in rupture.

Implants can also become weakened or worn from stress. Over time, a woman’s daily and repeated movements can weaken the integrity of an implant’s shell, especially in areas that may fold, such as the outer sides. Textured implants are also more likely to rupture due to having more friction against the breast.

Injury is another possible reason for rupture, as direct force to the implant can cause it to break. Even in these circumstances, however, a ruptured silicone implant may not be immediately detectable if the patient is not looking for it.

Signs of a Ruptured Silicone Implant

Whereas ruptures in saline implants are often immediately detectable due to deflation, silicone implants tend to result in “silent” ruptures. That is, they may not look or feel any different than normal. This is because silicone gel is more viscous, retaining its general shape. Leaks therefore tend to be slow and relatively unnoticeable at first. Nevertheless, here are some warning signs to suggest a ruptured silicone implant:

  • Pain or tenderness: If silicone has leaked into the breast, the nearby tissue may become inflamed. This may result in soreness or tenderness of the area.
  • Change in shape: Ruptured silicone implants can affect breast size or shape, but the change will be subtle and gradual. If an implant appears to have decreased in volume or become unevenly shaped, this may be a result of silicone loss.
  • Lumps in or near the breast: Although silicone can leak, it will do so in small clumps. These may be visible, appearing as lumps under the skin. Although they will likely stay near the breast at first, pieces of silicone can also migrate to other areas. In such cases, the silicone will have to be removed, as it is cannot be absorbed by the body.
  • Soft or firm breasts: If breasts feel unusually soft or firm, this may be indicative of rupture. As an implant loses volume, the breast can become more yielding; but as tissue capsules form in the empty space, it can become firmer.

While ruptured implants should be replaced as soon as possible, there is little evidence that suggests any serious health risks from them.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

It’s helpful to know the symptoms of a ruptured implant, but the best way to detect a rupture is through an MRI scan. The FDA therefore suggests that patients with silicone implants undergo an MRI scan as early as three years after surgery, and every two years after that. Through the early detection of ruptures, implants can be more easily replaced and silicone removed. Speak with your plastic surgeon for more information about routine check-ups and preventative measures.

Replace Your Ruptured Implants

Don’t let a rupture lead to unnecessary complications. Speak with your doctor if you suspect any hint of a rupture. Contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Henry or to inquire about our cosmetic services.

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