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Breast implants should not be considered permanent and patients who undergo a breast augmentation procedure should be aware of the potential for breast implant rupture which may occur at any time. Breast implant rupture can occur because of the handling during the procedure, a faulty valve, improperly filled implants, trauma, capsular contracture, damage by surgical instruments and normal wear and tear.
When there is a breast implant rupture of a saline implant, the patient is usually aware of the rupture almost immediately. The saline solution which fills the implant shell is thin and will likely leak through the rupture quickly, although in some cases the deflation may take place over a number of days. Patients notice the change in the size and shape of the breasts as the saline solution exits the shell and is absorbed by the body. This solution is similar to other fluids in the body and can be absorbed and excreted by normal body functions. However, removal of the shell is still necessary by way of a surgical procedure.
Breast implant rupture is not as apparent with silicone gel implants. The gel used to fill these implants is much thicker and may not escape through small ruptures as easily, if at all. As a result, the patient may be unaware of the breast implant rupture. Patients who have silicone gel implants are advised to have annual checkups by the surgeon to determine whether or not the implant is intact and functioning properly, although in some cases the surgeon may not be able to detect the rupture either. An MRI is recommended every three years to evaluate the function of the silicone gel implant because the MRI is capable of detecting ruptures in the membrane. When silicone gel does pass through the membrane it may cause lumps known as granulomas in the breast tissue or wherever the silicone has migrated. Escaped silicone may remain in the breast or may migrate to organs throughout the body. Removing the silicone once it migrates can be rather difficult.