How Do You Know if Your Silicone Breast Implant Is Leaking?
- 25 July 2014
- Dr. Nidal (Nick) Masri
Breast implants can make you feel beautiful, restore confidence, and enhance one’s love life. They can truly make a world of difference to a woman, especially if they are a follow up to a mastectomy procedure.
A mastectomy is done by removing the tissue of one if not both breasts. The indications for this can vary
but it is usually done as either treatment or prevention of breast cancer. After a mastectomy, woman will often look to plastic surgery to help restore their body with a breast reconstruction. One of the options in breast reconstruction is silicone implants.
Silicone implants are a good option to regain shape and symmetry of your breasts. But, five years after the implantation, a check-up to ensure that everything is going as expected and there are no leaks is recommended. Imaging is generally indicated at this point in time. Previously, it was thought that an ultrasound was the best technology for detection of a leak in silicone breast implants. However, recent studies have been done that show MRI is the most reliable imaging test for diagnosing a silicone breast implant leak.
Click Here to Download Your Free Checklist
How do I know if my silicone implant has ruptured?
Sometimes people experience what is known as a ‘silent rupture’. This means that there is virtually no signs or symptoms of a rupture and it is usually first detected through imaging. A silent rupture occurs because the leaking silicone stays trapped within scar tissue capsule your body has created for the implant. Your body naturally forms this hard, capsule-like structure around the implant when it is first inserted. When the silicone begins to leak, the scar-like tissue encapsulates the leaking silicone and virtually nothing changes for the patient.
However, sometimes you will notice significant changes when a breast implant leaks. If the capsule that surrounds the implant becomes inflamed, you will experience other symptoms. Pain may be associated with the inflammation along with soreness and swelling. Other signs of a leaking breast implant include:
- a change in shape or contour
- lumps appearing in the affected breast
- a hardening or softening of the breast tissue
- a change in breast size
What do I do if my silicone implant is leaking?
If it is confirmed that you are experiencing a silent rupture, then it will usually be left up to you whether to have the implant removed or not. Many times, patient opt to wait and see what happens over the next few months.
If it is confirmed that you do have a leaking breast implant and you have the symptoms, which can sometimes be severe, it is likely that your surgeon will recommend removal of the implant. It is up to you whether or not to replace it. More often than not, the replacement can be done at the same time as the removal, resulting in only one surgery.
Opinions differ on whether or not the cost of an MRI is justified for screening purposes, but an ultrasound is a good alternative if you do not wish to have an MRI. If an ultrasound screening shows a possible leak, then an MRI can be done to definitively diagnose a ruptured silicone breast implant.