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Why Do Breast Implants Sometimes Leak?

Breast implants don’t normally last a lifetime—most augmented women have to replace their implants within ten to fifteen years. The most common reason for a replacement surgery is an implant that has ruptured or leaked. There are a number of contributing factors to leaking implants, including damage during the procedure by a surgical tool, overfilling or underfilling, capsular contraction, or physical trauma. Both silicone and saline implants are at risk for rupture, but they will show different signs once they’ve started to leak.

Leaking Silicone Implants

A silicone implantleak happens rather slowly and is easy to go unnoticed for many years. Sometimes a leaking silicone implant is only discovered during a revision surgery when the implant is being removed. When a silicone implant leaks, two things may happen: the cohesive silicone gel may leak into the scar tissue that has built up around the implant. The condition of having hard scar tissue around the implant is known as capsular contraction and is its own issue entirely, but in the case of a leaking implant it may help the implant maintain its structure.

However, even a leaking silicone implant saved by capsular contraction will eventually leak beyond the scar tissue and that’s when leaking silicone gets dangerous. Silicone that is free to travel throughout the body can get into fragile areas like the lymph nodes or lungs. Once the silicone has gotten inside of these areas it’s impossible to remove.

How Do I Know If My Silicone Implants Are Leaking?

If your silicone implant has leaked, you may notice that your breasts have changed size or shape. You may also experience numbness, swelling, tingling, and other discomfort. Of course, most of these symptoms only apply to patients whose silicone gel has leaked outside of their scar tissue capsule. Many patients with leaking silicone implants have no noticeable signs, which is why it’s incredibly important to visit a plastic surgeon for regular checkups. If you think your silicone implants may be ruptured, call your plastic surgeon or nearest hospital for an MRI. Experts agree that immediate explantation, or removal, of silicone implants is necessary because the long-term effects of silicone in the body are unknown.

Leaking Saline Breast Implants

A leaking saline implant is much easier to identify than a leaking silicone one. Saline has a much thinner consistency, which allows it to run out of the implant more quickly. Saline is a natural solution that the body can absorb without detrimental effects—the only immediate danger of a leaked saline implant is if the implant is infected with bacteria, and the body absorbs the harmful saline.

How Do I Know If My Saline Implants Are Leaking?

Saline leakages are easily identified because the breast will drastically change in shape and size rather quickly. Hospital or doctor verification is not required, but you should call your plastic surgeon immediately to get the implants removed or replaced.

How To Avoid Implant Leakage

Your implants should bring you satisfaction—don’t tip toe around them to avoid springing a leak! Most implant ruptures are out of a patient’s control, but there are certain precautions you can take to lower your chances for a leaking implant.

Certain insertion methods may increase the risk for rupture. Implants that are inserted through the bellybutton (trans-umbilical) have to be pushed further through the body and have a greater chance of being cut with a surgical tool. On the other hand, some surgeons believe that inserting the implant sub-pectorally protects it against physical trauma.

High-impact activity is dangerous. If a large part of your life involves major physical activity with contact, like football, wrestling, or otherwise putting pressure on your breasts, implants may not be the best choice for you as prolonged physical trauma will cause your implants to leak quickly.

Warn the mammogram technician. Do not avoid mammograms if you have implants—but do tell the technician that you have implants beforehand, so he or she can take extra care not to squeeze your breasts too hard.

Check in with your plastic surgeon. If you have silicone implants, a rupture may go unnoticed. To be on the safe side, get regular checkups with your plastic surgeon or MRIs at a hospital. If you’d like to learn more about breast augmentation or to schedule a free consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area , contact our representatives today!

 

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