Breast Implant Rupture? Symptoms

Breast Implant Rupture – What to Do If It Happens to You

Although every woman is different, there are general symptoms that you need to look out for if you think your breast implants aren’t feeling “quite right” or you have a breast implants rupture. The most common signs of breast implant problems are a;

  • Reduction in breast size
  • Change in breast shape
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Visible lumps or ripples
  • Numbness, burning or tingling
  • Or, an increase in sensitivity

Some breast implant issues are more inconspicuous than others and cause no apparent symptoms. This is one of the reasons checking your breasts regularly for any changes in size, feel, shape, and sensitivity is so important. This is also why we like to review our patients regularly.


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What happens if you have a breast implant rupture?

Both silicone and saline breast implants have an outer silicone shell that can potentially tear or break. The chances of your implant breaking or rupturing increase over time. Depending on the type of breast surgery, breast implant rupture rates range from 1% to 30% and can cause some health risks.

There are two types of breast implant ruptures: intracapsular and extracapsular.

  • Intracapsular ruptures occur when an implant breaks inside the tissue capsule formed by your body after surgery. The capsule essentially “contains” the rupture, making it very difficult to detect. As a result, your breast will likely look and feel normal.
  • Extracapsular ruptures occur when the silicone or saline in your implant has broken through the tissue capsule, resulting in more visible symptoms.

How much force does it take to for a breast implant rupture?

Like everything, implants age over time and as they age they become more susceptible to damage. Generally, the standard implants that plastic surgeons offer today can withstand a significant amount of force. As a result, in most cases, it would take more than a simple fall to rupture your implant. Common causes for implant ruptures include significant chest injuries and accidental damage from other surgeries or airbag release in car accidents.

Can coughing give you a breast implant rupture?

As stated above, newer breast implants can tolerate a considerable amount of force before they rupture or leak. Therefore, no coughing can’t rupture an implant because the force is not strong enough. To rupture and implant requires a much larger and more concentrated force.

How do you know if your breast implant is infected?

When an implant ruptures and leaks, infection is possible. Furthermore, depending on the type of implant you have, there may be even more serious health concerns. When saline leaks into the body, it is absorbed and mostly harmless. However, if there is bacteria, mould, or yeast in the implant, a serious infection can occur.

Silicone leaks can lead to silicone toxicity and a variety of symptoms. Although most silicone leaks have little to no visible symptoms. Common signs of breast implant infection are:

  • Change in the size or shape of your breast/implant
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Fever
  • Pain or irritation
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Silicone Breast Implant Rupture

What causes a silicone implant to rupture?

Silicone implants may rupture for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the normal ageing of the implant. Some of the most common causes of silicone implant ruptures include:

  • Chest trauma/injury (car accidents, etc.)
  • Accidental damage during other surgeries
  • Needle insertion during a biopsy
  • Damage from a mammogram
  • Intense exercise

How common is it for silicone implants to rupture?

Modern silicone breast implants consist of a gel silicone centre covered by a more durable shell casing. Silicone gel is much thicker than saline, thus reducing the risk of leaking in the event of a rupture. Because of this, silicone implants are very resilient and won’t usually break under normal circumstances.

Can a ruptured implant make you sick?

Breast Implants Ruptures can cause symptoms ranging from irritation to life-threatening. Therefore, it’s critical that you make an appointment with your plastic surgeon if you’re experiencing any issues. Ruptures can lead to leaks of saline or silicone from inside your implant, which can spread and cause infection in your body.

When silicone leaks outside the implant, it won’t usually go far because silicone is very thick. However, if it moves to the lymph nodes and other organs, there is a much higher risk of health issues.

What are the symptoms of silicone toxicity?

If your implant ruptures, there is a possibility that it will leak to other parts of your body. Silicone toxicity occurs when silicone leaks into your body’s organs, causing severe damage. If left untreated, silicone toxicity can cause a variety of immune issues. Autoimmune problems and a weakened immune system are often a result. Common signs linked to these conditions include:

  • Blood clots
  • Anaemia
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Kidney issues
  • And, rashes

How hard is it to rupture a silicone implant?

It would take a significant amount of force to rupture an implant. Silicone breast implants made after approximately 2005 have a thick, outer coating that makes them more resistant to breaking. Still, all implants age over time and become more susceptible to rupturing. We recommend our patients replace their breast implants roughly once every ten years.

Saline Breast Implant Rupture

How do you know if your saline implant has ruptured?

Ruptures in saline implants are very easy to detect. This is because saline leaks typically cause a noticeable difference in the size and shape of the breast. If you notice these changes, call us immediately to schedule an appointment with your plastic surgeon. Saline is typically harmless and absorbed in the body without causing any major issues. However, bacteria in an implant could cause an infection or lead to more serious health problems.

What are the signs of saline implant rupture?

Signs of saline implant rupture are typically very noticeable. The top three symptoms of a ruptured saline implant are:

  • Reduction in breast size
  • Change in breast shape
  • Visible rippling or indentations

Treatments for intracapsular implant rupture

Intracapsular implant ruptures are much easier to treat than extracapsular ruptures. We’re typically able to remove the majority of the leaked silicone in intracapsular ruptures and avoid severe infection. Intracapsular ruptures progress unpredictably and may become extracapsular rupture over time. Waiting too long to remove the implant may make it more difficult to treat or cause more serious issues.

How do I know when my breast implants need replacing?

Several symptoms could mean it’s time to replace your implant. The most common signs include:

  • Hardening or hard spots
  • Ruptures
  • Saline/Silicone leaks
  • Change in position
  • Rippling
  • Double Bubble

Does a warranty from the implant company cover a ruptured implant?

Every warranty is slightly different, so you should speak with your plastic surgeon to learn more about your policy. Most warranties last ten years and cover the cost of a new implant in the event of a rupture. However, that may not include additional costs associated with the surgery. In most cases, you’ll need to pay at least some of the cost out of pockets such as anaesthetist and hospital charges.

Can a mammogram detect a ruptured implant?

Mammograms are considered the least accurate way to diagnose a ruptured silicone implant. Deposits of silicone in breast tissue appear as white lumps on mammograms and may hide certain breast cancers. Also, mammograms are designed to compress the breast, which could worsen a rupture or even cause one.

As an alternative, we recommend scheduling an MRI about once every 2-3 years to screen for ruptures. MRIs are highly effective at detecting implant ruptures, and you won’t risk causing more damage to the implant.

medicare cover for Breast Surgery

Does Medicare cover ruptured breast implant removal?

Because everyone’s situation is slightly different, we can’t tell you for sure whether Medicare or your health fund will cover your surgery. To confirm the details of your policy, call your Medicare representative and health fund to explain your situation and inquire about your coverage. Typically, Medicare and health fund may cover breast implant removal for some of the following conditions:

  • Severe pain or disfigurement
  • Implant ruptures
  • Infection
  • Siliconoma or granuloma (silicone-filled lumps under the skin)
  • Interference with the diagnosis of breast cancer

If you think your breast implant may have ruptured, call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialist plastic surgeons.

Further reading and references about Breast implants Rupture

Medical References:

About Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein FRACS is one of Melbourne’s Best Specialist Plastic Surgeons for breast and tummy surgery.

He has been rated as a Top 3 Plastic Surgeon in Melbourne and rated a Top 5 Plastic Surgeon on the ‘Best in Australia’ website. 

Dr Rubinstein offers women personalised tummy surgery and all forms of cosmetic breast surgery.

He uses only the highest quality Motiva breast implants and is renowned for his natural-looking, long-lasting results.


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