How To Diagnose A Ruptured Breast Implant
You may notice the contour or shape of your breast has changed. Some women might experience tightness, slight discomfort, and or skin rippling. Ruptured implants are not believed to cause any medical issues. Let’s look at the signs and symptoms of Silicone and Saline implant ruptures.
2 Types Of Silicone Implant Ruptures:
1. Intra-Capsular Rupture:
The silicone leak stays inside the capsule (a thick layer of scar tissue that naturally grows around your implant).When this happens, the silicone stays contained.
In some cases, your capsule can become inflamed and additional scar tissue can form, which might lead to:
- Change in breast size or shape
- Pain, soreness (burning or tingling) or swelling in the your breast
- Lumps in your breast
- Hardening or softening of your breast
- Capsular contracture
2. Extra-Capsular Rupture:
The silicone leaks outside of your capsule. When this happens, silicone can travel to other parts of your body, most commonly to your lymph nodes in your armpit. This is usually only seen in older ‘liquid’ gel implants.
Internal silicone leakage is not known to cause any medical issues.
How To Diagnose A Ruptured Saline Breast Implant:
A saline (salt water) breast implant break, will typically leak rather quickly. Your breast will deflate and you may experience skin wrinkling.
While it is less common for saline to leak slowly, it can happen. When a saline implant leaks, your body will absorb the salt water and excretes it through urine.
A ruptured saline implant is harmless, unless the saline contains bacteria, mold, or fungus. This rarely occurs, but if you begin feeling ill (i.e. temperature or rash), you should see a doctor immediately.
Ruptured saline implants typically occur through the fill-valve (where the fluid is injected at the time of surgery) which becomes weak and leaks.
A Personal Story Of A Breast Implant Rupture:
Kimberlee Collinson, a personal trainer, remembers when she went back to work too soon after having her breast augmentation. She was showing a client an exercise and over did it, However, she didn’t think much of it until the next morning when she awoke in pain.
“My chest looked like I had a cantaloupe in it. My husband was very worried and it looked horrible,” recalls Collinson.
After speaking with her doctor and sending him a photo, it was confirmed that Collinson had ruptured her breast implant and experienced a blood clot. She needed to undergo another surgery to repair the damage.
“I was mad at myself for not resting enough,” said Collinson.
We are so grateful for Collinson sharing her story and want to emphasis how important it is to follow your doctor’s post surgical instructions.
Some Things To Remember:
- Silicone ruptures are harder to diagnose than saline ruptures (which ruptures quickly and noticeably).
- You might experience a change in the shape, or feel, of your breasts.
- Breast tissue might become softer or harder in certain areas.
- Some patients also report pain or mild discomfort.
- An MRI or Ultrasound is the only way to detect whether or not the implant has for sure ruptured.
To MRI Or To Not MRI, That Is The Question!
Most doctors will not suggest you get an MRI to diagnose a ruptured implant. Why?
It’s extremely expensive and odds are you will have to replace your implant if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms anyways.
High Resolution Ultrasound is becoming the standard diagnoses of a ruptured implant. It’s fast, convenient and easy to do in the comfort of your doctors office.
The US Food and Drug Administration currently recommends that breast implant patients undergo an MRI 3 years post breast augmentation (and every 2 years thereafter) to detect any rupture.
However, “There is around a 15% false-positive rate with MRI implant screening,” said Dr. William Adams in a recent article ‘Ultrasound Fast Alternative To MRI For Breast Implant Status’.
In addition to the high cost of an MRI, the process is not pleasant. You have to lie still for an extended period of time, be confined within an MRI capsule and endure the loud noises. Ultrasounds provide easy and quick answers. They’ve also been reported as having no-false positives to date by several doctors who use them.
A ‘Silent Rupture’
A ruptured silicone implant may go unnoticed. When this occurs any leaked silicone typically stays trapped within the capsule.
“I Just Want My Implants Removed”
If you feel as though you have a ruptured silicone implant, you can decide to have your implants removed at any time.
Some women prefer to have a breast lift, or another corrective surgery with the removal of their implants.
My Breast Implant Is Ruptured, Now WHAT?!
If a rupture is detected, the next steps are to schedule a surgery. It’s important to note that it’s not a medical emergency.
Make sure to seek the care of a qualified physician who will properly remove and replace your implants.
Most implants come with warranties. Contact your breast implant brand for more information.