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Ruptured Implants

What Happens When an Implant Ruptures?

early vs late breast capsule contracture

An implant rupture occurs when there is a leak in the shell of a silicone or saline implant. A leak in a saline implant can come from the valve through which the implant was filled, or it can occur because of a tear in the implant shell. This results in immediate deflation of the breast. The saline solution is absorbed by the body and will not cause any harm. Newer versions of silicone gel implants are less prone to rupture because they are made from a thicker substance, but rupture is more difficult to detect. Although scientific studies have not shown any link between implant rupture and serious diseases, it is important to see your physician if you suspect a rupture has occurred.

Saline Rupture


Patient may experience pain, changes in nipple sensitivity, visible implant rippling, or redness.


The implant deflates and flattens, creating obvious asymmetry of the breasts. The ruptured saline solution is reabsorbed into the body and excreted with the urine, causing no harm to the patient.


Usually, a mammogram, ultrasound, CT, or MRI is not required; only clinical examination is needed to determine if a saline implant has ruptured.

If the Rupture Is Not Corrected

The sterile saline solution itself will cause no harm to the patient. However, the implant should be removed and the scar tissue should be released as soon as possible to avoid potential damage to the implant pocket.

Silicone Rupture


Patients may not have any symptoms, or they may experience pain, tingling, or redness.


A mammogram may not accurately detect a silicone implant leak. Because of this, an MRI is recommended every three years to monitor the integrity of the implant shell.


There is often no obvious flattening of the breast with silicone implant rupture. However, the implant may become hard and cause a change in breast size.

If the Rupture Is Not Corrected

If the implant rupture is not corrected, the silicone could spread to the lymphatic tissue throughout the body. Patients can develop silicone mastitis and calcified granulomas from the ruptured silicone once it becomes extracapsular.

Types of Breast Implants

Smooth Saline

Rupture can occur from leakage through the valve of the implant or through crease cracks within the shell
Symptoms of rupture will be obvious to the patient
If a leak does occur, the saltwater is safely absorbed within the body and is not harmful to the patient
Usually, the breasts will become immediately deflated once rupture occurs

Smooth Silicone

The filler gel can leak from the implant over time and migrate into the lymphatic tissue throughout the body
Symptoms of rupture may be non-existent
Capsular contracture is greatly increased with ruptured silicone implants
Will maintain shape if rupture occurs

Textured Silicone

Textured implants have a higher rupture rate due to crease crack formation and implant failure
Symptoms of rupture may be non-existent
Designed to lessen the risk of capsular contracture .
Will maintain shape if rupture occurs

Breast Revision After Implant Rupture

Breast revision surgery is commonly performed with general anesthesia and may take one to three hours to complete. It usually involves the following steps:

1. Implant Removal

The prior incision is reopened and the implant is taken out of the breast.

2. Irrigation

The surgeon will explore, irrigate, and clean out the pocket where the implant was inserted. Any silicone material that has leaked outside of the implant shell must be thoroughly cleaned out.

3. Capsulectomy

The scar tissue that surrounds the implant will be released through an open capsulectomy or capsulotomy.

4. Implant Replacement

A new implant will be reinserted unless the patient opts for implant removal only.