What the Best Plastic Surgeons Want You to Know About Silent Rupture

by | May 31, 2019 | Breast Implant Complications, Breast Implant Education Center

Are you researching breast augmentation or plastic surgery recovery? What about life after a breast augmentation? Even after you are “done” recovering from a breast augmentation, you might still encounter complications that require additional surgery. One term you may see when researching breast implant types is “silent rupture.” What is silent rupture, and how can you reduce your risk of encountering it? To help you learn more about silent ruptures, we talked to several of the best plastic surgeons around the country.

What is a Silent Rupture?

A silicone gel breast implant is made by filling a solid silicone shell with thick, sticky silicone gel. The stability this gel provides means silicone gel breast implants have beautiful, natural looking results. If a rupture occurs the silicone gel must be removed with the shell because, unlike the saline that fills saline and structured implants, silicone gel cannot be absorbed by the body.

According to the FDA, symptoms of a ruptured breast implant include, “a decrease in breast size, change in breast implant shape, hard lumps over the implant or chest area, an uneven appearance of the breasts, pain or tenderness, tingling, swelling, numbness, burning, or changes in sensation.”

However, not all silicone gel breast implant ruptures show symptoms, which can cause some anxiety during plastic surgery recovery and beyond. According to the FDA, “If a silicone gel-filled breast implant ruptures, it is not likely that you or your doctor will immediately notice because most silicone implant ruptures are without symptoms, ‘silent ruptures.’” Even if a rupture is causing no problems, the FDA still recommends removal with or without replacement.

How Silent Ruptures are Detected

How do you know you have experienced a silent rupture? Women with silicone gel breast implants are encouraged to get magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) every few years in order to detect a silent rupture. As Dr. Constance Barone, board-certified plastic surgeon in San Antonio, points out, not all women like this recommendation. She tells us, “We like the feel of silicone gel implants. We just don’t like the fact that we should be getting MRIs at three years and every two years thereafter. That’s an out- of-pocket expense, which can be quite expensive.” According to a recent report the average MRI cost is between $444-$1468.

Some of the best plastic surgeons around the country tell us detecting a silent rupture can be more difficult than just getting an MRI. Dr. Joshua Waltzman, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Long Beach, says “I’ve had multiple patients who have experienced some type of silent rupture. The more common scenario is that I find the rupture during an implant exchange and/or upsizing or downsizing. I discover it once I am operating on the patient, which is really the ultimate silence.”

Even if you do your best to detect a rupture, Dr. Sophie Bartsich, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, says that may not be enough. She tells us, “In the last couple years I’ve had several patients who’ve had MRIs done because there was a question about their existing silicone gel implants. I’ve found that sometimes MRIs are not actually very reliable. In some instances, a patient’s MRI said the silicone gel implant had ruptured, and then when I went in to operate on it, it actually hadn’t. I’ve had one or two patients where an MRI showed the implant wasn’t ruptured, but based on my clinical exam I really thought there was a concern, so I went in and it turned out it was ruptured.”

Are Silent Ruptures Avoidable?

Is there anything you can do to avoid a silent rupture, which will lead to revision surgery and plastic surgery recovery? The short answer is, no. According to the FDA “silicone breast implants can rupture at any time after your implant surgery, but the longer an implant is in place, the greater the possibility an implant may rupture.” Dr. Eric Desman, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Alexandria, Virginia, echoes the FDA when he tells us, “breast implants are man made devices. They’re not lifetime devices. So every implant, in my opinion, eventually will leak or rupture.”  Furthermore, after removing a ruptured silicone gel breast implant, Dr. Desman says, “If the patient puts new silicone gel implants back in, then they’re just restarting the clock on the next problem or process with a leaked silicone gel implant.”

Silent Rupture and Anxiety

Occasionally, some of the best plastic surgeons will recommend replacing your silicone gel breast implants at ten years, but if they are not causing issues there is no reason for a replacement. Some women are able to keep their silicone gel breast implants for 20 years or more with no issues. However, the anxiety caused by possible silent rupture should not be discounted. In a recent independent survey, 98% of women surveyed said they would be concerned about silent rupture with silicone gel implants, 95% of women say they would want a ruptured silicone gel implant removed, even if they didn’t show symptoms, and 89% of women reported that they were less likely to choose silicone gel after learning of the FDA’s MRI recommendations. Dr. Mathew Plant, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Toronto, says “Patients have aesthetic surgery to feel better about themselves and gain some confidence that they may be missing. So the last thing that I ever want to do is put a device into someone that then gives them a whole bunch of new anxieties and keeps them up at night. If all we’ve done is trade one insecurity for another then we haven’t really accomplished anything at all.”

Plastic Surgery Recovery and Beyond

Not every women will experience a rupture in her silicone gel breast implants but it is important to know statistics about rupture rates before you choose a breast implant. Choosing a breast implant with a low rupture rate will help you avoid future surgeries. Unfortunately, many silicone gel breast implants have high rupture rates. The FDA collects this data from core clinical trials so every patient can be informed and empowered to make the best choice for her future. To compare the benefits and compromises of some of the most popular breast implants, click here.

Beauty and Peace of Mind After Your Breast Augmentation

Women choose silicone gel breast implants because they offer beautiful results, and as Dr. Plant pointed out, aesthetic surgery should boost your confidence. In the past, silicone gel was the top choice for a great aesthetic. Now there is a new breast implant option that offers beautiful, natural looking results but without the risk of silent rupture. The IDEAL IMPLANT® Structured Breast Implant is filled with saline for a women’s peace of mind. If the IDEAL IMPLANT ruptures the saline will leak out and be naturally absorbed by the body, there is no need for an MRI to detect a rupture. The internal structure of the IDEAL IMPLANT gives the implant stability and a natural, beautiful look.

The IDEAL IMPLANT Structured Breast Implant is offered from some of the best plastic surgeons in the nation. All IDEAL IMPLANT surgeons are board-certified, and dedicated to providing their patients with safe and effective treatment options. To find a surgeon near you use our easy surgeon finder: idealimplant.com/find-a-surgeon. To learn more about the advantages of the IDEAL IMPLANT visit idealimplant.com/advantages.