Ruptured Breast Implants
Current breast implants from both of the major manufacturers in the United States warranty their breast implants for life. They also provide additional funds for a replacement surgery if the implants rupture in the first 10 years. Manufacturers currently offer $1200 dollars with the standard warranty and up to $2400 with an upgraded warranty. This can significantly reduce the financial burden associated with an implant rupture.
What do you do if you suffer from an implant rupture?
If you have saline breast implants, then you will experience what is akin to a “flat tire.” over the course of several days to weeks the implant will slowly deflate and the rupture will be quite obvious to both you and your surgeon. The implant will need to be replaced and should be done in a somewhat timely fashion. As the implant deflates, the capsule has a tendency to shrink as well, ultimately limiting the space for the replacement implant. Routinely, the same sized implant will be used as there is normally no need to operate on the other implant. This will maintain your pre-rupture appearance.
If you have silicone implants, the progression will be more subtle. Since silicone gel is more cohesive and less absorbed by the body, a rupture will likely not look terribly different if you have silicone get breast implants. Frequently, women will notice a change – sometimes how the breast feels and more often how the upper aspect of the breast looks. This results from the gel pooling in the lower half of the capsule, making the upper aspect less “full.” A formal diagnosis is hard to make without a MRI, but if there is enough clinical suspicion we would likely proceed with surgery. The cost of a MRI can be close to that of the entire surgery.
How is it performed?
In most cases, the exchange procedure is relatively straightforward with the old breast incision being used (except that an axillary/armpit or belly button cannot be used for revision procedures), the old implant is removed, the capsule adjustments are made and the new implant reinserted into the new pocket.
What About Recovery?
The recovery is normally much less involved, especially in the case of implants placed beneath the muscle, as the muscle stretch is normally the most painful aspect of the surgery. After a few days, most women are able to be back at their normal routine aside from exercise. Pain is regularly mild compared to the first breast augmentation.
What do I do if I think I have a rupture?
Contact your plastic surgeon soon and be seen for an inpatient evaluation to determine what your current issues are and the appropriate next steps to remedy the problem.
Vincent Marin, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon