Breast Implant Ruptures and Leaks

Breast implants are used in elective cosmetic surgery to improve the breast’s appearance or can be used in reconstructive surgeries after breast cancer. Surgical breast enhacement should not come with an unreasonable amount of risks to the patient. Before receiving this type of breast augmentation or reconstruction, a physician should properly screen each patient. Some women are not good candidates for breast augmentation surgery and could be at higher risk of issues such as developing thick scar tissue (capsular contraction). Physicians should also inform patients of all potential health risks and complications – including breast implant ruptures and leaks.

What Causes Breast Implant Ruptures and Leaks?

Breast implant rupture refers to the sudden burst of the silicone or saline implant, resulting in a fast release of the gel or liquid inside the implant. An implant could rupture if something punctures its outer shell. Common incidents that could lead to a rupture are motor vehicle accidents and needles during biopsies. One study found that up to 64% of silicone breast implant ruptures stem from damage by surgical instruments during the plastic surgery. The natural aging of the implant could also increase the odds of the implant shell rupturing.

A breast implant leak is a slower loss of fluid, more likely from a problem or defect with the implant. Saline implants, for example, have a history of valve failures and saline leaks. Valve failures could lead to a fast rush of saline, with the breast appearing deflated over a day or two. Defective implants could also experience leaks over time that slowly release saline or silicone gel into the body.

Are Ruptured Implants Dangerous?

In most cases, the body will absorb saline (saltwater) from ruptured saline implants without any injuries or illnesses. The gel from a silicone implant will leak out more slowly than saline due to a thicker consistency. The body cannot absorb silicone gel. Silicone gel breast implants manufactured after 1992 will have lower odds of a leak making it past the capsule of scar tissue surrounding the implant.

Silicone breast implants manufactured before 1992 are more likely to bypass the scar tissue and spread to other parts of the body in a rupture or leak. This could result in rare complications such as silicone granulomas forming in the chest, arms or elsewhere in the body. A silicone granuloma is a lump of scar tissue that collects around the silicone gel from the ruptured breast implant. In rare cases, a patient may need to undergo corrective surgery to remove silicone granulomas.

In 2006, new laws in the United States required silicone gel breast implant manufacturers to create implants with thicker shells and safer gel fillers. These newer types of breast implants can still experience gel fractures, or tears in the silicone shell, but the silicone gel may not spread as easily throughout the body as older silicone implants. Breast implant ruptures and leaks can change the shape of the breast implant making it appear deflated or deformed.

Symptoms of a Ruptured Breast Implant

If a ruptured implant starts to leak, it could take days or weeks for the patient to notice a problem. Slow leaks could deflate the breast slowly, in unnoticeable increments. A silent rupture in silicone implants does not cause any recognizable symptoms. Fast leaks and ruptures, on the other hand, could cause a noticeable physical change in a matter of days. In some cases, a patient may notice a variety of symptoms of a saline or silicone implant rupture within hours or days.

Signs and symptoms of ruptured implants may include:

  • Swelling in the breast area
  • Chronic pain
  • Pain to the touch
  • Firmness or hardness in the area
  • Capsular contracture
  • Changes in breast appearance

A patient with symptoms of a possible rupture should see a health care provider for an evaluation. A plastic surgeon can use an MRI or ultrasound to detect a leak or issue. Treatments for a breast implant rupture or leak typically require corrective surgeries. The plastic surgeon will remove the compromised breast implant, as well as the scar tissue capsule in some cases. Even if only one breast implant ruptured, the surgeon will typically remove both. The surgeon can immediately replace the ruptured implants or reconstruct the breasts without new implants depending on the wishes of the patient.

Can I Sue for My Implant Rupture?

If a defective implant ruptures or leaks, after a breast augmentation surgery, the patient may have grounds for a product liability claim against the implant manufacturer. The manufacturer may owe affected patients compensation for their damages, including revision surgeries, implant removal, new implants, lost income, physical pain and emotional suffering. A breast implant recall lawyer in Southern California could help patients with breast implant rupture and leakage seek damage recovery. Contact the legal experts today for a case review.

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