What Happens if My Breast Implant Ruptures?

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Rupture sounds scary, but is it?

We get it. The term “rupture” sounds pretty intense. So we spent some time with board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michelle Roughton of Amelia Aesthetics, to help us better understand what a breast implant rupture is and isn't.

The good news, a rupture really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not an explosion or catastrophic event. In fact, depending on the type of implant you have, you may not even know your implant ruptured. 

Implant rupture is when a tear or small split forms in the implant. It’s not likely to happen from a blow to the chest, but more likely because the implants rotate within the pocket. Over time the movement can cause the silicone outer shell of the implant to wear down. 

To learn more about breast implant durability watch our video covering this topic (and a lot more) in the free Bustmob Academy app

Implant ruptures are not a medical emergency, but the type of implant you have will determine how obvious a rupture will be. 

Over the years, breast implants, specifically silicone, have had some big advancements in technology, lowering the rupture rate at 10 years from 50% for the older generations down to 9-20% for the new fifth-generation implants.

Quick facts for peace of mind: 

  1. There is no known harm from implant rupture.
  2. Implant ruptures are highly and easily treatable.
  3. All implant manufacturers in the US offer a lifetime warranty for ruptures.

Feel a little better? We hope so, but let’s dig into the details.

Saline vs. Silicone Ruptures 

If you have a saline implant rupture, there won’t be any guessing. Within an hour or two of the rupture, you’ll have a flat tire situation on your hands…or chest rather. 

Since the silicone shell (both saline and silicone implants have silicone shells) has a small tear, the sterile saline solution will leak out, causing the implant to deflate.

The sterile salt water in an implant is the same as you would find in an IV bag, so don’t freak out. Your body will naturally and safely absorb the solution. 

That said, you will be a little asymmetrical, but again, there is no need to panic. A ruptured implant is quickly and easily fixed with breast implant exchange surgery by your plastic surgeon.

Ruptured silicone breast implants on the other hand aren’t as obvious because they don't change size or shape when ruptured.

The fifth-generation implants, also known as gummy bear breast implants, are filled with a cohesive silicone gel that holds its shape. 

Imagine cutting a gummy bear in half. Does it ooze all over? Nope. The gummy bear holds its adorable shape. Fifth-generation implants act the same way.

ruptured fifth-generation silicone gummy bear breast implantl
fifth-generation silicone gummy bear implant (photo source)

Because of this, if a gummy bear implant does rupture, it won’t be noticeable because there will be no visible changes.

To dig deeper into silicone vs. saline implants, watch the full breast augmentation series in the free Bustmob Academy app.

How will I know if my silicone implant ruptures?

As we’ve mentioned, you won’t be able to tell just by looking in the mirror. Silicone breast implant rupture is sometimes called a "silent rupture" for this exact reason.

Because there is no way to know otherwise, the FDA suggests screening your silicone implants with an MRI or ultrasound 6 years after the implants are placed and then every 4 years after that.  

Insurance companies don’t cover the costs of this screening. So, a lot of women ultimately opt out of it. Leaving the mammogram the thing that picks up silicone implant ruptures the most. 

Not because a mammogram is the best test for ruptures, but simply because it is typically the only test our breasts get.

Should I panic?

Short answer, no. There is no known harm from an implant rupture and there is no medical emergency to treat the rupture. 

However, it isn’t exactly something they can test. They can’t take 100 women, rupture their implants, and say “Hey, call me if you have a problem.” 

Even so, you can take a little comfort in knowing breast implants are the most studied medical device we put in our bodies. Whew, some basic science always makes us feel a little better. 

In all of the studies, they have yet to find a single link between a ruptured implant and any sort of illness or disease process. 

What do I do if it does rupture?

If your implant ruptures, don’t panic. Ruptures are easy and safe to treat with a breast implant exchange.

It’s a very simple procedure where your plastic surgeon will take the old implant out and put in a new one. If you’re not changing sizes, in most cases, you don’t even have to go under full anesthesia. 

Another little bonus is that to date all implant manufacturers in the US have a lifetime warranty for implant ruptures.

So in the event that your implant does rupture, the manufacturer will cover the cost of the implant (learn more about implant warranties in the Bustmob Academy app).  

Chances are after 20-30 years, there will be a new, even better implant on the market anyway. A nice little upgrade perk can add a little silver lining to the situation too. 

Found this helpful, but want more? 

Good news! This is just one of hundreds of fun, factual videos on the Bustmob Academy app to make your plastic surgery research easy.

From commonly told myths and FAQs, to recovery time and costs, Jenny Eden, founder of Bustmob, and Gretta Nance, lead educator at Amelia Aesthetics, break down your plastic surgery research into bite-size, binge-able pieces. 

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Gretta Nance
Lead Educator, Amelia Aesthetics
Dr. Michelle Roughton
Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Ready to learn everything about plastic surgery?
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