What is a breast implant deflation?
Saline and silicone filled breast implants can break. A tear in the structure of the implant is called an implant leak or rupture. In the case of the saline filled breast implant:
- The implant will go flat, either slowly over a few days or weeks, or fairly quickly.
- The salt water contained in the implant will be absorbed by the body
In the case of the silicone filled breast implant:
- Most patient do not have any signs or symptoms of implant rupture
- The silicone material stays in the implant pocket
- In some cases the body will react to the silicone gel forming a thicker scar (“capsular contracture“) that may be easily felt as breast hardening or shape change.
When does the breast implant leak?
Breast implants may rupture or leak at any time. However, the data indicates that leak rate is very low, and breast implants may not break until 7 to 10 years from breast augmentation procedure. The current leak rates at 3 years are:
- Saline filled breast implants leak rate: 3.3 %
- Silicone filled breast implant leak rate: 0.5%
What can be done to prevent a breast implant from leaking or breaking?
The most important factors in preventing implant leak depend on the particular surgical technique used during the implant procedure:
- Incision size adequate for the implant
- Avoiding certain substances like Betadine
- Avoiding trauma to the implant with surgical instruments
If my breast implant breaks, can I feel it?
Usually not in the case of a silicone filled implant. In some cases, after silicone implant rupture, the body may respond to the silicone material and form a layer of hard scar tissue that leads to a thickening of the implant capsule and a capsular contracture. If a saline filled breast implant leaks, it usually goes flat over a period of hours to days, so the breast becomes smaller due to the implant losing volume.
How can I tell if one of my silicone breast implants is leaking?
There is no way to reliably detect a silicone implant leak by physical exam. MRI evaluation is recommended periodically starting at 3 years from the breast augmentation surgery and every two years after.
I heard I need to get an MRI to see if my saline implant is leaking. Is that true?
No. A leaking saline breast implant will become smaller, feel more wrinkly, and the respective breast will decrease in size. MRI evaluation is often needed to detect a rupture in silicone filled breast implants.
What do I need to do if I have a deflation?
If a deflation is confirmed either by physical exam in the case of a saline filled implant or by MRI in the case of a silicone filled implant, the implant must be replaced at the earliest convenience. Although this is not an emergeny, it is prudent to replace the implant as soon as possible to avoid breast shape changes, capsular contracture, or possible tissue reaction to the silicone material.
How much does it cost to replace a deflated or broken breast implant?
The cost of the removal and replacement of a breast implant will vary with the possible other procedures that may need to be performed. The implant manufacturing companies (Mentor and Allergan in the USA) have limited and extended lifetime warranties that usually cover the basic costs of implant replacement due tto deflation.