If you’ve gotten breast implants or are planning on getting them, you’re likely to wonder if they might ever rupture. When breast implants were first developed, rupturing was a common problem as the implant walls were very thin. Over time, the durability of the implant wall has improved and modern implants rarely ever rupture.1
Breast implants are typically filled with saline or silicone gel. They may rupture because of age, trauma, and medical procedures such as post-cancer surgery.2 And although ruptured implants might never give rise to any symptoms, here are a few you can watch out for.
1. Reduction In Breast Size And Tissue
Since a saline solution is sterile and natural, the body typically absorbs most of it, posing negligible health risks. That said,
A significant reduction in the mass of the breast is observed when a saline-filled implant containing sterile salt water ruptures. In such an instance, the fluid leaks out of the capsule causing the implant to deflate and the breast loses volume. Loss of volume is also caused by a fluid leak outside the shell.
2. Loss Of Breast Shape
In a silicone gel-filled implant, due to the thick viscosity of the gel, the leak may not spread out of the capsule, which refers to the thick layer of scar tissue (called a capsule) that grows around the implant. This is called a silent rupture and may not be easily noticed by the doctor or the patient. But when the gel escapes outside the capsule, the loss of shape and size of the breast is obvious.
3. Knots, Lumps, Or Ripples Around The Breast
Silicon implant ruptures lead to knots and lumps as the breast loses shape and the saline leaks into other parts
On the other hand, in the case of saline ruptures the affected breast suddenly looks smaller and deflated, and it often ripples or even folds due to lost volume.3
4. Breast Pain, Tenderness, And Inflammation
The inert nature of silicone ensures that any rupture does not cause too much harm, produce significant clinical symptoms, or activate the humoral immune system.4 It is, hence, important that women with silicone implants undergo regular MRIs as recommended by their doctor to ensure that the implants have not ruptured.5
Both silicone and saline ruptures can lead to breast pain. In the case of silicone ruptures, this is when the silicon leaks into nearby lymph nodes and causes inflammation and tightness. This generally calls for an MRI, which is the only way to check for a silicone rupture. Loss of shape, sagging, and inflammation due to knots and leaks can cause pain and tenderness during saline ruptures.6
5. Constant Burning Sensation
When silicone flows into the lymph nodes, it can also lead to a constant burning sensation. This is generally accompanied by tightness and pain as mentioned above.7
|↑1||Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) silicone breast implants – Advice to Women. Health In Wales.|
|↑2||Hölmich, Lisbet R., Ilse M. Vejborg, Carsten Conrad, Susanne Sletting, Mimi Høier-Madsen, Jon P. Fryzek, Joseph K. McLaughlin, Kim Kjøller, Allan Wiik, and Søren Friis. “Untreated silicone breast implant rupture.” Plastic and reconstructive surgery 114, no. 1 (2004): 204-214.|
|↑3||BREAST IMPLANT RUPTURE. Washington University In St. Louis.|
|↑4, ↑7||Godwin, Yvette, Robert T. Duncan, Christine Feig, Michelle Reintals, and Sarah Hill. “Soft, Brown Rupture: clinical signs and symptoms associated with ruptured PIP breast implants.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery–Global Open 2, no. 11 (2014): e249.|
|↑5||Hölmich, Lisbet R., Ilse M. Vejborg, Carsten Conrad, Susanne Sletting, Mimi Høier-Madsen, Jon P. Fryzek, Joseph K. McLaughlin, Kim Kjøller, Allan Wiik, and Søren Friis. “Untreated silicone breast implant rupture.” Plastic and reconstructive surgery 114, no. 1
|↑6||Breast Implant Complications. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2017.|