Breast implants became popular way back in 1960. Two plastic surgeons named Corning and Gerow invented them. Later on the implants were manufactured commercially. Today millions of women all over the world have undergone breast implant surgery. There are two types of breast implants, saline filled implants and silicone gel filled implants.
Many women have done breast implant surgery to enhance their self image cosmetically. Implants are also used to reconstruct breast after mastectomy in case of breast cancer. Although widely used, breast implants have negative consequences such as rupture and infection.
Trauma, puncture wound, aging, medical procedures can cause rupture and leakage besides infection. Implants which leak or get ruptured require to be removed. It can be replaced with other new implant if the woman desires so.
What Happens When Breast Implants Leak?
Leakage of breast implants can manifest in several signs and symptoms. However, some time they remain asymptomatic for long duration and rupture is revealed only on diagnostic radiography such as mammogram, MRI or CT scan. Here are some of the important features to keep in mind when breast implants leak.
- The saline variety of implant upon leakage can reduce the volume of breast. Saline implant is made up of sterile salt solution. The fluid that is leaked is absorbed by the body. However, deflation of the implant may result in loss of volume of the breast tissue. The area around the implant constricts and hardens.
- Leakage in silicone implants can cause inflammation in the breast tissue. Leakage is associated with pain, soreness, and redness in the affected breast. As a result the breast appears swollen. Patient can feel small lumps in the breast. Shoulder and arm on affected side can have discomforting pain. Tingling and burning sensation persists for a long time after leakage.
- There is obvious deformity in shape and size of the affected breast due to rupture of silicone as well as saline implants. However, deformity after leakage from saline implant is more noticeable.
Causes Of Breast Implant Leakage
Leakage from breast implant can occur due to variety of reasons. Usually leakage from implants is due to break in the implant shell. Over a period of time the implant shell ages and becomes soft. As a result it may break from area leaking the content from the implant.
Traumatic injury to chest is another common reason for leakage. Car accidents or injury during implantation or fall from a height can be a reason for leakage.
Overfilling of implant with saline or silicone material or damage to the valve can lead to leakage.
The good news is that the rate of leakage is very less, it is 1 percent. With changing time and material implants used today are quiet durable and they last longer than those that were used few decades ago.
Treatment For Leaking Breast Implants
According to most experts, ruptured implants needs to be removed as early as possible. Surgical removal of breast implants is called explantation.
In most cases a leakage from ruptured saline implant is harmless. The body absorbs saline. However, if the saline contains bacteria or any other organisms it can lead to infection. If the implant is broken and woman has fever, breast tenderness, and rashes on skin, she has to immediately consult her doctor. She may need antibiotics and further removal of the implant.
Leakage of silicone implant often remains asymptomatic for a long time. Silicone gel is thicker in consistency than saline water therefore the gel may still remain in the shell or in the tissue around the implant. There may be decrease in breast size or change in shape. In some cases there may be burning pain, swelling and tenderness. Silicone gel leakage is confirmed after radiographic MRI. The implant has to be removed soon before silicone seeps into the nearby tissue or in armpit or chest wall.