Should I Be Worried About Silent Rupture If I Have Silicone Breast Implants?

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am a big fan of silicone gel breast implants—as are thousands of our Berks Plastic Surgery patients. The latest generation of smooth, round silicone gel implants look, feel, and move just like a natural breast, and we can even choose the filling consistency to dial in your desired level of breast fullness with great precision.

In sum, today’s silicone gel implants can achieve a natural looking and feeling breast augmentation better than anything we’ve had in the past.

However, as fantastic as silicone gel implants are, they do not last forever. While extremely durable—a silicone implant can withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure—there is always a small risk that the shell will tear or rupture. With silicone implants, a shell rupture can be difficult to detect on its own, hence the term “silent rupture.”

What is silent rupture?

Unlike saline implants, which noticeably deflate if the shell ruptures, silicone gel implants will maintain their shape, and there is rarely any sign that the rupture has occurred. Silent ruptures are not considered medical emergencies, as the silicone filling is too thick to easily migrate outside the breast capsule into the body. In fact, most patients who have a silent rupture experience no symptoms or side effects. However, to be on the safe side and to prevent further possible complications, a ruptured implant should be removed promptly once it is detected.

Silent ruptures are usually not considered medical emergencies, and most patients experience no symptoms or side effects. However, to be on the safe side and to prevent further complications, a ruptured implant should be removed and replaced promptly once detected.

Typically, the only way to detect and/or confirm a silent rupture is through ultrasound or MRI imaging. The FDA recommends that patients with silicone implants undergo routine imaging to monitor for silent rupture, beginning three years after their breast augmentation surgery and every two years after that. It is up to the patient to schedule and receive these tests, although we like to send reminders to our breast augmentation patients on surgery anniversary dates to help them remember when it’s time for follow-up care.

How do I know when to get breast implants replaced?

Most breast implant ruptures, silent or otherwise, occur to due to natural wear and tear as opposed to a sudden impact; this is true both saline and silicone. Studies show that rupture risk increases slightly each year for the first decade, and then rises more quickly after the ten year mark. This is why many plastic surgeons, myself included, recommend that patients schedule follow-up visits with their surgeon every 1 to 2 years and consider replacing their breast implants every ten years or so, even if there isn’t a rupture or any other problem. This is an option whether or not you have undergone recommended MRI/ultrasound tests.

Upgrading your breast implants every 10 years or so is a great way to refresh your look, take advantage of the latest implant options, and reset the clock on the risk for silent rupture.

The benefits of replacing your breast implants every so often go beyond that of avoiding or detecting a silent rupture.

As I (not so subtly) hinted in the beginning of this post, the breast implant options you have today are better than what were available a decade ago, and are likely to continue improving. Additionally, your body and breasts change over time. Your aesthetic tastes may have changed too. Upgrading your implants before there is a “problem” is a great way to refresh your look, achieve a breast shape, size, and look that best matches your current lifestyle, and reset the clock on the risk for silent rupture.

Of course, if you are unhappy with or concerned about your breast implants for any reason, at any time, you should contact your plastic surgeon to discuss options for removing or replacing them. Whenever the time comes to replace your breast implants, be sure and choose a plastic surgeon who is very experienced in breast revision procedures. If you do have a rupture, your plastic surgeon should remove both the implant and the surrounding capsule (scar tissue) before replacing a new implant, a procedure known as en bloc breast implant removal.

Helping you choose the right breast implant option is our priority

About 98% of our Reading breast augmentation patients choose silicone gel for their breast augmentation, and close to 100% are happy with their choice! That said, our priority is helping you find the right breast implants to achieve the look and feel you want while also providing the peace of mind you deserve. Any FDA approved breast implant, saline or silicone, can meet these requirements, and we will be happy discuss both options at your breast augmentation consultation. Call 610-320-0200 or contact us here to learn more!

15 Comments Posted to "Should I Be Worried About Silent Rupture If I Have Silicone Breast Implants?"

  • July 4, 2019 at 4:05 am • Posted by Nadia lovov | Reply

    Agree with this grate article, especially these words: “Upgrading your breast implants every 10 years or so is a great way to refresh your look, take advantage of the latest implant options, and reset the clock on the risk for silent rupture.”
    Thank you for sharing, so much useful!

  • August 23, 2020 at 4:52 pm • Posted by Rita | Reply

    I had silicone implants 40 yrs ago. They have always been fine. This time my mamo- showed a leak. I went for an MRI and sent the results to my Dr. in NYC who did them for me for his advice. They said there was a leak and I should do something about it. Unfortunately I am no longer in the financial bracket as I was back then. At 74 yrs old I work to support myself. I live on that and SS. I could never afford to redo them again! I don’t think Medicare Ins. Covers old implants! Any suggestions? Will I die from this?
    Thanks so very much.
    Warm regards

    • August 23, 2020 at 6:14 pm • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      Medicare will cover explanation and capsulectomy but not replacement. Seek out a plastic surgeon that accepts insurance and Medicare and they can help you. Good luck!

  • September 3, 2020 at 9:38 am • Posted by Dianne Nixon | Reply

    Like Rita, I am 78 years old and my last mammogram (1 week ago) shows that one implant is leaking. I had my breast augmentation in 1979 and was in a higher financial bracket. I had no clue this was happening until the radiology report. I do not know what to do. Is my health in danger, if I do nothing at this time (your best guess)?

    • September 3, 2020 at 11:54 am • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      I would recommend evaluation by a board certified PS, Medicare would cover explantation if warranted

  • October 9, 2020 at 4:21 pm • Posted by Cheryl | Reply

    My plastic surgeon stated that the silicon will just stay inside the shell…
    So, what is your opinion?
    Must I have the ruptured implant removed?

    • October 9, 2020 at 6:08 pm • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      Yes. Ruptured implants should removed. Sometimes insurance will cover explantation if you are have complications. Replacement, Breastlift or other revisions are typically cosmetic in nature

  • October 21, 2020 at 4:27 am • Posted by Pam Hart | Reply

    I’ve had implants in for 17 years and I’ve never been contacted regarding check ups now my right implant has leaked into my mammory glands but nobody is doing anything about it I’m now terrified and in huge amounts of pain as my breast keeps filling with fluid it was drained twice but now I’m just left in limbo and my breast is huge filled again what should I do ? Please

    • October 21, 2020 at 9:00 am • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      seek a consultation with a board certified Plastic Surgeon for treatment and explantation

  • January 26, 2021 at 5:51 am • Posted by Susan Capenos | Reply

    My post mastectomy implants are 15 yrs old. In May,2020, my 1 implant had silicone leak which has migrated into my arm pit. I’m afraid to get surgery due to the Pandemic, but I recently had lab work which had a positive ANA.

    • January 26, 2021 at 10:48 am • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      i would recommend having the ruptured implant replaced as soon as you feel comfortable

  • January 26, 2021 at 2:31 pm • Posted by Maree | Reply

    I had a hard fall on the weekend and hit onto my left breast. I had silicone implants 30 years ago. My breast is very painful since the fall. There is no bruising. Should I have this checked?

    • January 26, 2021 at 4:29 pm • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      yes. I would recommend an evaluation and either an MRI or hi-resolution ultrasound

  • March 11, 2021 at 11:08 pm • Posted by Diane | Reply

    Hi I had silicone implants placed 30yrs ago due to a severe pectus excavatum. I started having pain around my left breast an down my left arm. I went to the ER & a CT scan with contrast showed leakage / rupture of my implants . All the plastic surgeons I called for an appointment are booked out till at least May 2021 . How emergent is it for treatment? And also what happens to the silicone that is leaking into my body ?

    • March 12, 2021 at 8:08 am • Posted by Dr. Brian Reedy |

      It is not an emergency and honestly over 50% of the older 3rd generation implants were found to be broken at 10!! Years. Yours have been broken probably for a decade or more. It’s just now that you are having symptoms. Pick the surgeon you like and wait for the appointment. Good luck! And no worries

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