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What to Do When Breast Implants Rupture

When breast implants drift, lose integrity or become visible on the surface of the skin, women typically choose breast explant surgery to remove or swap implants.

When an implant ruptures, time is of the essence, and that is when patients schedule an immediate appointment with experienced Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Charles S. Lee, MD. He has performed thousands of surgeries that reverse the effects of implant rupture, which range from pain and swelling to misshapen breasts.

Implant Failure

A rupture is a tear in the silicone shell that encases either silicone gel or saline. Ruptures can also be caused by failure of a shell’s valve. The longer you’ve had your implants, the greater the chance you will experience a rupture.

The skill of your surgeon has a significant impact on the longevity of your implants: According to a 2013 study, a majority of silicone implant ruptures can be traced to damage to the shell caused by instruments during breast augmentation surgery. Even the most expertly placed implant won’t last forever, however.

Saline vs. Silicone

Because saline is readily absorbed by the body, a saline implant rupture will have few, if any, side effects. Silicone will not be absorbed, and may in fact migrate to other areas of the body, invading the lymph system and traveling to the lungs. Scar tissue may form around silicone granules that have lodged in disparate areas of the body.

Sometimes when the outer layer of a silicone implant ruptures, there is little if any seepage of the silicone gel, but the tear can nonetheless distort the shape of the implant and breast. Symptoms can range from severe pain to no discomfort at all. The latter is often referred to as a “silent rupture.” An MRI may be needed to detect this type of tear.

At one time, it was believed that migration of silicone throughout the body was correlated with an increase in connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis; but recent studies seem to disprove this theory.

The solution for an implant rupture is surgery to remove the implant, scar tissue and any silicone gel that is accessible to the surgeon. At this point, some women choose to receive new implants, but an autologous procedure is also an option. This is a reconstruction procedure using your own body’s tissue to restore a natural profile after the removal of an implant.

To learn more about breast implants and explant surgery, schedule a personal consultation with Charles S. Lee, MD, or contact the Beverly Hills office of Enhance® Medical Center today.

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