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Ruptured Saline Breast Implants

Typically, patients with acute rupture have significant breast asymmetry that occurred within seven days or less. 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 implant edges along the inner tissue. Fever and redness of the breasts can also indicate an infection due to 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 implant shell.

The fluid within a saline implant will 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 implant can cause damage to the breast pocket or result in infection. No breast implant is considered to be a lifetime device. All implants have a risk of rupture over time, which may occur through creases, cracks, or valves in the implant. Any implants can rupture when the breasts are exposed to:

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

Symptoms of Ruptured Saline Implants

Patients who have ruptured saline implants come to our office weekly. Contrary to silicone implants, saline implants are more user-friendly. When a saline implant ruptures, it loses its size and shape. The saline is then absorbed into the body and excreted through 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 Saline Implant Rupture

In most cases, patients experience a complete loss of fullness to the breast. Mammograms, ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRIs are usually not required, so only clinical examination is necessary to identify saline 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 implant will continue to leak over time, and the breast will become significantly smaller.


Corrective Procedures

We recommend removing these 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 implant is removed, the pocket is irrigated, the scar tissue is released, and a new implant may be placed, if desired.

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