Breast implant rupture (or deflation) is when the shell of a breast implant develops an opening or tear, potentially allowing the saline or silicone to be released from the implant. When saline breast implants deflate, it is usually easy to notice. Either the breast dramatically loses size or it becomes loose and develops wrinkles . The saline that leaks is out harmless and is absorbed by your body.
Rupture of silicone gel breast implants can be more difficult to detect. Because the gel is thick and cohesive, there is usually not a rapid change in size. While some patients will have “symptomatic” ruptures that include hardening or pain, some might experience visible changes in shape or decreased size, and some experience no changes whatsoever.
Saline and Silicone Breast implants that are currently used for breast augmentation are extremely durable and expected to last for many years. However, they most likely will not last forever. Just like most manufactured devices, there may come a time when they wear out or break.
Breast implants can rupture for a variety of reasons such as automobile accidents, damage during surgery, or other types of trauma. However, the majority of breast implant ruptures are simply a factor of time…..the longer implants are in, the more likely they are to rupture. Certain styles of breast implants, especially those from the 1980’s, had a higher tendency to rupture . Textured surface breast implants have a higher rupture rate than smooth surface implants.
Although it is not an emergency, a ruptured silicone gel implant or deflated saline implant should be removed and replaced in a timely manner.
This requires going to the operating room, removing the ruptured implant, and thoroughly cleansing the area. Other modifications can be made at that time to improve the overall appearance. Many patients will also use this opportunity to change the breast implant size or type.
For some patients, Dr. Ciaravino uses a unique approach of deflating the intact breast implant prior to surgery, so that the skin can contract to match the deflated side. He also uses a special device known as the Keller funnel to make breast implant insertion easier and less traumatic.
Fortunately, both saline and silicone breast implants come with a lifetime warranty against rupture or deflation. In the event of a rupture, the manufacturer will provide free replacement breast implants and may also cover a portion of the operating room fees.