If you are settled in having your breast augmentation, it may be because your plastic surgeon assured you of the procedure, material stability, and his expertise in performing the surgery. He should also inform you of the risks and complications post-surgery. But despite that, you would have been given the confidence that your surgery is going to be a success. Well, we wouldn’t want to sound pessimistic and all, but, are you open to the possibility of your breast implants leaking? What did your doctor tell you about the signs and symptoms of silicone breast implant leakage? If you want to know more, then read on.
Silicone Breast Implants
Of the two main types of breast implants, saline and silicone, the latter is the one that most people choose. Many plastic surgeons, even clients, would say that silicone breast implants feel the closest to your natural chest. Silicone gel replicates the feel of your body’s fat, making you think that you are holding real breasts. And because the filling’s consistency is denser and thicker than saline water, your breasts would not ripple or wobble and would stay formed with movement without wrinkling.
Is there a Downside with Silicone Breast Implants?
Well, as we all say, nothing is perfect, and we cannot exempt silicone implants. What are the disadvantages of using silicone-filled implants?
Scars. Every silicone implant is already pre-filled, so during breast augmentation, you need to have a good-sized incision for it to fit in. This is a disadvantage compared to saline implants that you can insert as a shell at first. a wider incision means a more visible scar post-surgery.
Higher cost. Surgeons consider breast augmentation costs relatively high, and one of the factors that make your procedure expensive is the materials used. Unfortunately, implants using silicone gel costs more than those filled with saline solution.
Rupture. Implant Rupture and leakage from silicone shells occur slower than saline solution leaks, making these problems harder to detect.
Breast Implant Rupture
All types of implants, whether you have saline or silicone gel-filled, have silicone shells. Although breast implant manufacturers now vouch that these are impermeable and difficult to break, instances of tearing and leakage are still possible.
Difference between Saline and Silicone Implant Rupture
When a saline implant ruptures or its valve fails, the saline leaks out quickly — typically over the course of a few days — and the breast appears somewhat deflated, so you know immediately that it’s ruptured. The saltwater is absorbed by the body.
When a silicone implant ruptures, the gel leaks out more slowly because it’s thicker, so it may take you longer to realise that the implant has ruptured, or you may not realise it at all. Silicone gel is not absorbed into the body.
Ruptured Silicone Breast Implant
Silicone implants have been tainted with a dark past. The silicone gel implants sold in the US in the early ’90s may look better than their saline counterparts. However, they pose more risks especially because more of them are likely to leak. The liquid silicone gel can then spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes or the lungs.
Your body may react to the silicone by forming more scar tissue, which might be uncomfortable or cause a distorted breast shape. In relatively rare cases, lumps called silicone granulomas can form in the arm, armpit, chest area, or elsewhere in the body.
Because of this, many breast implant manufacturers improve their shells and made sure that fewer complications will happen if ever a leak or rupture is inevitable. However, there are also manufacturers who produce substandard products that can be affordable yet poor in quality.
So, make sure that the plastic surgeon you trust, whether here or abroad, would only use high-quality breast implants. Because, though we mention this not to discriminate, medical tourism may pose quality issues and safety risks and the materials used during your plastic surgery is partially to blame.
Symptoms of Silicone Implant Leakage
Signs that your silicone implant has ruptured can include changes in breast size and shape. You can also have increasing pain, firmness, and swelling over a period of weeks. Rupture can also cause capsular contracture. Silicone implant rupture that doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms is known as ‘silent rupture.’
Leaking silicone gel isn’t thought to cause health problems, such as breast cancer, reproductive problems, or rheumatoid arthritis. Still, a ruptured silicone breast implant might eventually cause breast pain, breast thickening, or changes in the contour or shape of the breast. If this happens, your plastic surgeon will likely recommend surgical removal of the implant. In case you want a new implant, it can usually be inserted at the same time.
Silicone Breast Implant Rupture: The Solution
If you have silicone breast implants and suspect that an implant might have ruptured, talk to your plastic surgeon. He may request an imaging test, either an MRI or ultrasound, that can confirm whether the silicone gel implant has ruptured or not. It can show three possible findings:
- your silicone breast implants are intact, so the signs and symptoms you feel may be from a different source;
- you have a silently leaking silicone gel implant; or
- you have a definite ruptured breast implant.
The doctor can request getting your scans as a preventative measure. You can use it strictly for monitoring and follow-up purposes. The chances of having intact breast implants are high in this care. However, you can still feel something is wrong and your implants are intact as per the imaging result. You should then talk to your plastic surgeon to be better guided.
If you have a silent rupture or a leak that’s not causing signs or symptoms, your plastic surgeon will explain possible treatment options. Some women take a wait-and-see approach, while others prefer to remove or replace the ruptured implant. Ask your surgeon to help you weigh the pros and cons.
But if you have a ruptured silicone implant that’s causing signs or symptoms, your plastic surgeon will likely recommend breast implant removal. If you want, he can reinsert a new implant to replace the ruptured one. If you no longer want breast implants, you might want a breast lift or other corrective surgery.
Reminders about Silicone Breast Implants
Plastic surgeons always tell this fact: implants do not last a lifetime. The best thing you can do to make sure that you and your implants are safe and intact would be to follow your scheduled regular visits with your doctor. He can monitor the appearance and feel of your breasts. So if you have any problem, with or without symptoms, he can detect it early on.
Your plastic surgeon would also recommend that you get an MRI three years after your cosmetic surgery. That should be repeated once every two years. This is to check the integrity of your implants and confirm that they are intact.
Breast implants: Saline vs. silicone.
Breast Implant Rupture.