Skip to main content

When to Seek a Breast Revision if Your Implant Ruptures 

Posted March 02, 2023 in Breast Surgery

4 Minute Read:

While structurally strong, the silicone shells of breast implants can weaken and tear.

Woman holding breast implant in hand with another stuffed in her bra.

This complication is easily identifiable with a saline implant, as the affected breast will appear deflated within a number of hours or days (depending on whether it is a leak or a full rupture).

However, silicone ruptures are more challenging to identify, as they are made from thick, cohesive silicone and usually don’t indicate a leak. This is why women with silicone implants often require MRI screenings every two years.

How Long Can You Leave a Deflated Saline Breast Implant In?

While leaking saline implants do not pose any inherent health risks, all breast implant complications must be addressed promptly.

Ruptured saline implants should be removed no later than four weeks after you notice a change in the shape of your breast because the breast implant capsule (scar tissue that naturally forms around the implant) starts to shrink between two and four weeks. 

If you wait longer, breast implant replacement becomes more complex and usually requires your plastic surgeon to open the capsule so that it can accommodate the new implant. 

You may also need a capsulotomy to position the new implant properly. 

How Long Can You Leave a Ruptured Silicone Breast Implant In?

A ruptured silicone breast implant can take a long time to show any outward signs and sometimes never does. Regular MRI or ultrasound screenings are essential to discover silicone breast implant ruptures. 

While you may not experience changes in your breasts or notice any symptoms, silicone implant ruptures can cause complications, including isolated granulomas and systemic illness. 

3 Easy Ways to Detect a Breast Implant Rupture

Women with implants should continue to perform monthly self-breast exams to search for lumps or changes in their breasts and the following indicators of a breast implant rupture. 

  1. Changes in Breast Size or Shape

As mentioned above, it’s hard to miss a saline implant rupture since your implant will deflate quickly, causing a reduction in breast size. However, when a silicone implant ruptures, your breast size doesn’t necessarily change, but the shape may. 

Often, when a silicone breast implant tears, women see no changes at all, which is referred to as a silent rupture.

  1. Breast Pain or Tenderness

Ruptures in both types of breast implants can lead to sore or painful breasts. 

If this occurs, avoid taking aspirin or NSAIDs because they thin the blood and can increase your risk of experiencing complications during breast implant removal or replacement.

  1. Breast Ripples or Lumps 

When saline implants rupture, you may notice ripples or small lumps in the affected breast(s). Don’t become alarmed, as this is often due to folds in the deflated silicone shell.

Lumps and ripples can also appear when a silicone breast implant ruptures, either around your breast or near your armpit. However, these signs of rupture in silicone implants often take a long time to appear.

A rupture can eventually trigger an inflammatory reaction, especially if you have silicone implants and neglect to have regular MRI screenings. 

This response may cause tissues to contract, extra scar tissue to form around the implant, and your breasts to feel firm. Having an MRI screening every two to three years is crucial. 

5 Tips for Self-Breast Exams With Implants 

Between your regular screenings, performing self-breast exams is beneficial. If you have difficulty with your monthly breast exams, these tips can help:

  1. Lay down on a flat surface for easier self-exams.
  2. Extending the arm on the same side as the breast while performing your exam allows you to feel the upper and outer sections of the breast and your armpit more easily.
  3. Hold your fingers flat against your breasts, press firmly, and carefully check your breast tissue, armpit, and other adjacent areas for lumps and other changes.
  4. Gently squeeze your nipples and areolas to check for any discharge.
  5. Visually inspect your breasts and armpits for swelling and changes in pore size. 

What to Do About Breast Implant Ruptures?

If you live in or near Manhattan and suspect that you have a breast implant rupture, call our office at (646) 559-2854 today to schedule your consultation right away. Our board-certified cosmetic surgeons can help you and offer several breast procedure options, including breast implant revision and en bloc capsulectomy/breast implant removal.