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Ruptured Implant

Woman covering her breast with her arms

When women undergo breast augmentation surgery, they have silicone or saline implants inserted into their chests to enhance the appearance of their breasts. Over time, however, implants can begin to weaken, which can cause them to rupture. 

Implant rupture can occur by trauma to the breast or when a tear in the implant has compromised the outer shell. 

Although it is often not dangerous to you physically, a ruptured implant can cause some pain and discomfort as well as aesthetic irregularities, such as swelling and firmness. 

Because of these issues, a ruptured implant should be addressed in a timely manner to prevent any further complications.

How to Know if Your Implants Are Ruptured 

It is an inevitability that all implants eventually fail. 

Most implants have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years, though some have been known to last longer. However, there is no guarantee that an implant will last any certain amount of time. You may take great care of your health and implants and still have to deal with a rupture.

In general, implant rupture can occur when there is repetitive rubbing along the natural creases of the implant — this rubbing can wear down the shell and cause it to tear. 

Additionally, external trauma or a defect within the implant can cause them to rupture. Patients experiencing the following symptoms may be suffering from a ruptured implant: 

  • A tingling sensation 
  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Redness 
  • Swelling
  • Visible deflation of the breast


Though these symptoms present a clear issue, an implant can rupture without any noticeable symptoms; this complication is known as a silent rupture. Silent ruptures are more likely to occur with silicone implants since the cohesive silicone should remain within the capsule. 

Saline implants are known to “deflate” soon after rupture.

If you think that your breast implant may have ruptured, it is important that you make an appointment at Piedmont Plastic Surgery in High Point, North Carolina. 

During your appointment, Dr. Willard can order an MRI scan or a mammogram to detect and confirm whether or not you have a ruptured implant. 

If a rupture is found, Dr. Willard will remove the ruptured implant with or without replacement. 

Correcting Ruptured Implants 

Correcting a ruptured implant typically involves the patient undergoing a breast implant removal and/or exchange procedure. With a breast implant exchange (breast revision), the ruptured implant is removed and replaced with a new, healthy implant. 

Specific aspects and approaches with this procedure can depend on the patient’s implant type, the original incision, and the severity of the rupture. 

While your body will naturally absorb the saline solution, a leaking silicone implant may require the breast pocket to be carefully cleaned to prevent any complications. Additionally, the tissue capsule may be removed before your new implant is placed.  

If the patient no longer wants breasts implants, the implants can be removed without replacement. A capsulectomy (total or En Bloc) is usually performed during breast implant removal to excise the scar tissue that surrounds the breast implant. Recovery from capsulectomy surgery is about two weeks, after which time, patients can expect to feel physical and emotional relief. 

Many patients also opt to have a breast lift following their breast implant removal to correct sagging. Dr. Willard waits three to six months after breast implant removal to perform breast lift surgery.

If you wish to receive further care and treatment after your breast implants have been removed or replaced, you can request to spend the night at the Comfort Cottage with a nurse available to help you. 

What Will My Recovery be Like?

Recovery from your breast implant exchange generally takes four to six weeks. 

During this time, you will likely experience swelling and bruising in your breasts as well as pain and tightness in the surgical area. 

You will need to wear a compression garment and surgical bra after your surgery, as this will help speed up your recovery time and ensure proper results. It is also important that you allow your body to rest and heal during your recovery. This means refraining from any strenuous activities, including exercise and lifting anything of weight. 

You will be able to return to your normal, daily activities once Dr. Willard clears you to do so. 

What Are Some Frequently Asked Questions About Ruptured Implants and Breast Implant Exchange?

Will my breast implant exchange procedure be painful?

Because breast implant removal and implant exchange procedures are performed under general anesthesia, you will not experience any pain or discomfort during the surgery. However, you may feel some discomfort during the week after your procedure. 

Medication can be taken to alleviate any pain you may experience; however, if pain persists or increases, it is important that you contact Dr. Willard immediately.

Can I change my implant size during a breast implant exchange?

Yes. During your implant exchange, you will be able to change implant size (up or down) if you desire to do so. However, this would require removing both breast implants instead of only the rupture implant. Because of this, many patients choose to keep the same implant size as the ruptured one.

Which implant type should I have for my replacement?

Both types of implant material (saline and silicone) offer beneficial results to women looking to have a larger, fuller breast appearance. While silicone implants tend to resemble the natural feel and look of breast tissue, saline implants also have a natural feel and can give you a transformative appearance. 

Which is safer, saline or silicone implants?

While both silicone and saline implants can rupture, because saline implants are made of saline (essentially salt water), the ruptured material is absorbed naturally by your body. Silicone is not absorbed by the body and must be surgically removed. Fortunately, modern silicone implants are made with a cohesive gel that tends to remain in place even in the event of the rupture. This makes today’s silicone implants much safer than previous models.