Ruptured Saline Breast Implants

Typically, patients with acute rupture have significant breast asymmetry that occurred within less than seven days. The shape and size of the breasts are dramatically compromised, leading to a distorted or uneven appearance. Some patients also experience pain or tenderness associated with the folding of the breast implant edges along the inner tissue. Fever and redness of the breasts can also indicate an infection due to breast implant rupture. Many saline ruptures have been caused by valve leakage, in which the directional valve becomes bi-directional. This allows saline to leak, even if there are no tears in the breast implant shell.

The fluid within a saline breast implant with both collect within the capsule and be absorbed into the excretory system. The sterile saline will not harm the patient. However, neglecting to remove a ruptured breast implant can cause damage to the breast pocket or result in infection. No breast implant is considered to be a lifetime device. All breast implants have a risk of rupture over time, which may occur through creases, cracks, or valves in the breast implant. Any breast implants can rupture when the breasts are exposed to:

  • Surgical damage
  • Blunt trauma
  • Chest injury
  • Time
  • Any mechanical pressure, such as that of mammograms

Rupture Rates for Saline Breast Implants

The rupture rate for saline Breast implants is approximately three to seven percent within five years of implantation. This rate increases to 20% after 10 years. When a patient notices apparent asymmetry or a visible loss of fullness, they should schedule an appoint with their board-certified plastic surgeon for examination and discussion about the possibility of secondary breast reconstruction or breast revision surgery.

Textured Breast  Implants

Textured Breast implants have a higher incidence of rupture due to increased risk of creasing and crack formation. These Breast implants are associated with fibrous adherence to the overlying tissue with continued movement of the chest wall, pectoralis muscle, or subglandular plane. This can lead to crease or crack formation, increasing the likelihood of implant rupture within the peripheral shell of the implant edge. In our practice, only smooth saline and silicone implants are used, which greatly reduces the risk or both saline and silicone implant rupture.

Symptoms of Ruptured Saline Breast Implants

Patients with ruptured saline Breast implants come to our office weekly. Contrary to silicone Breast implants, saline Breast implants are more user-friendly. When a saline Breast implant ruptures, it loses its size and shape. The saline is then absorbed into the body and excreted with the urine. Patients who suspect their saline implants have ruptured may be suffering from:

  • Pain
  • Changes in nipple sensitivity
  • Loss of upper pole fullness
  • Distorted appearance
  • Shape abnormalities
  • Visible rippling or implant edges
  • Skin redness

Diagnosis of Your Breast Implant Rupture

In most cases, patients experience a complete loss of fullness to the breast. Mammograms, ultrasounds, CT, or MRI’s are usually not required, so only clinical examination is necessary to identify saline Breast implant rupture. Patients who have an acute rupture with slight asymmetry may want to consider an ultrasound to check the breasts for fluid accumulation within the intracapsular pocket. We usually observe and examine these patients biweekly for two to three weeks to monitor the shape, size, and form of the breast. A ruptured Breast implant will continue to leak over time, and the breast will become significantly smaller.

Corrective Procedures

We recommend removing these Breast implants as soon as possible with open capsulotomy and capsulectomy in conjunction with implant exchange to reduce the ensuing scar tissue contracture around the bag. After the Breast implant is removed, the pocket is irrigated, the scar tissue is released, and a new Breast implant may be placed, if desired.