At Schaffer Plastic Surgery, breast augmentation procedures are among our safest, most routinely conducted procedures. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Schaffer, is a renowned expert in breast enhancement and has even served as a member of the Mentor LEAD Advisory Board which is a select group of plastic surgeons chosen for their leadership and experience in shaping the future of breast augmentation. Even with an extremely experienced plastic surgeon, in rare cases it is possible for breast implants to deflate or rupture. 

If you have had a breast augmentation procedure, it is important to stay aware of any changes in your breast size and shape in order to catch any potential ruptures early on. Noticing a change in breast size or shape, or noticing increasing pain, firmness or swelling over a period of weeks could indicate you have a deflated breast implant as a result of a rupture. These ruptures can occur following a significant impact or trauma, such as a car accident; as a result of a needle insertion; or simply as a result of normal aging of the implant. 

If you believe your implant may have ruptured, it is important to contact your plastic surgeon for a screening through an MRI or ultrasound. These procedures can determine whether your breast implant is ruptured or leaking and can help determine the next step for repairing the issue.

Dangers of a Deflated Breast Implant

There are two main types of breast implants—saline and silicone—and ruptures to these implants impact the body differently and can manifest in different manners. Saline implants contain a liquid saline solution, and if these implants fail, the saline leaks out relatively quickly and the saline is absorbed by the body. Because this process occurs relatively quickly, patients often notice that one breast looks more deflated than the other within a matter of days. While your body can safely absorb the saline, you will need surgery to remove the shell of the implant.

Silicone implants, on the other hand, are filled with a thicker gel which leaks out much more slowly. This means it can take longer to recognize a silicone implant has ruptured. Additionally, the silicone gel is not absorbed into the body. While leaking silicone gel is not thought to cause health problems, it can cause breast pain, breast thickening or changes to the contour or shape of the breast. As a result of improved technology, silicone implants now have a thicker shell to reduce the likelihood that silicone leaks into the body. Instead, these implants may get a “gel fracture,” or tear in the shell, which can change the shape and appearance of the implant.

What is the Process of Replacement Surgery?

If you notice a difference in your breast size or shape, contact your plastic surgeon in order to determine if an implant has deflated or ruptured and to discuss next steps, including removing and replacing the implants. Depending on your insurance provider and individual circumstances surrounding your breast augmentation surgery, your surgical repair may be covered. 

If an implant has ruptured, Dr. Schaffer will perform surgery to remove the deflated breast implant and, in the case of silicone implants, any silicone that has leaked out of the implant capsule. It is possible that Dr. Schaffer will remove both implants, even if only one has ruptured or deflated. For patients who desire to have their implants replaced, Dr. Schaffer can insert the new implants at the time of removal. Additionally, it is possible to change implant size during this surgery. If you are considering that path toward a larger breast size, you can discuss these options with Dr. Schaffer.

While there is no specific, recommended time frame for breast implant replacement surgery or the removal of a deflated implant, quick action can help reduce discomfort and minimize the risk for future complications such as breast  hardening (capsular contracture) or infection.

Reducing the Risk of Future Ruptures

Thanks to improved technology, modern implants are created to last a long time. In order to reduce the risk of a future rupture, it is important to select a trustworthy and ethical plastic surgeon who uses high-quality implants and follows strict safety measures. You can expect to receive a high level of care and attention as a patient of Schaffer Plastic Surgery. Dr. Schaffer is dedicated to safety before, during and after the procedure,  He makes his personal cell phone number available to patients in case of any recovery-related concerns. Your safety, care and speedy recovery are our top priorities at Schaffer Plastic Surgery.