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Signs of Leaking Breast Implants

I've had my breast implants for about 4 years.  When I lie down my implants sometimes feel like a misshapen, hard lump.  I can also feel the implants and some soreness. Are these signs my breast implants are leaking?  How can I tell?

Doctor Answers (33)

Leaking breast implants?

+1
You could have capsular contracture with or without leaking implants.   The only way to tell for sure is to be examined by your plastic surgeon who may order imaging studies such as a mammogram or MRI to evaluate what is going on.

Best of luck,

Dr. Michelle Spring

Web reference: http://www.marinaplasticsurgery.com

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Leaking Breast Implants

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Make an appointment to see your plastic surgeon. My patients have post -operative appointments scheduled regularly following surgery with the final schedule appointment at 12 months. However, if a patient has a concern beyond that time I would want to know about it. Contact your plastic surgeon.

Web reference: http://www.michaellawmd.com/breast-augmentation_breast_implants.html

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Please be seen!

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You need an exam by your Plastic Surgeon!Please find an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and member of the Aesthetic Society using the Smart Beauty Guide. These Plastic Surgeons can guide you on all aspects of facial surgery, breast augmentation and body procedures including tummy tucks or mommy makeovers!

Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Implant Leak or Rupture

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I'm sorry you're having difficulties. You should make an appointment to see your surgeon to be evaluated. The firmness you describe sounds like you are developing scar tissue. The body forms a capsule around the implant. In some cases those capsules can thicken and constrict in a condition known as capsular contracture. That could cause some of the symptoms you've described. At 4-5 years it is very unlikely your implant has leaked, but your surgeon may recommend an imaging study to evaluate. Best of luck.  

Web reference: http://www.maryleepetersmd.com

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Leaking Breast Implants

+1
It can sometimes be difficult to determine if a breast implant is leaking.  This will vary depending on the type of implant, saline or silicone.  Generally, with a saline implant, your breast size will decrease as saline leaks out of the implant.  With a silicone implant, it becomes a little more difficult to determine because you have to determine in there is an intracapsular or extra capsular leak. Based on your question, it sounds as if you may have a component of capsular contracture (scar tissue) around your implant.  When a capsular contracture develops, it tends to shrink the breast to the smallest diameter possible ( a sphere) and will move the breast implant up higher on your chest.  Your breast will also become more firm and the breast may become sore.  I would recommend you consult your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to determine the best course of action for you.

Best regards,
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

The signs vary depending on your implant type.

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Since it sounds like this issue has been going on for a while, my guess is that you have silicone and not saline implants. A saline implant typically deflates very quickly if there is a leak or breach because the fluid simply dissipates and is absorbed by the body. Silicone gel, on the other hand, is designed to be thick enough to stay in place even if the shell is damaged. The body may respond to this by building thicker scar tissue around the implant. This capsular contracture could be the hardness you’re feeling. The only definite way to diagnose an implant leak from silicone implants is with an MRI. You should contact your surgeon if you have any concerns that this may be the case.
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Detecting leaking breast implants

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When saline implants leak, it's generally obvious because the saline (salt water) is absorbed by the body and disappears from the breast. That breast would look and feel much smaller than the other breast. If silicone implants leak, the silicone usually remains around the implant, still in the breast. That means that the breast may not look or feel much different even if silicone is leaking. Sometimes it's possible for a plastic surgeon to determine this by examination. If there's doubt, the best test to determine whether silicone implants are leaking is an MRI. This study is very accurate, but can be costly and may not be covered by health insurance. 

If you're not satisfied with the look for feel of your breasts, or if the hardness is causing discomfort, you may wish to consider a revision breast surgery whether the implants have leaked or not. You may have developed capsular contracture (tight, firm scar tissue around the implants) or other conditions which can potentially be improved. 
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Signs of Leaking Depend on the Type of Implant

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Signs of leaking depend on the type of implant you have. A leak in a saline implant typically allows the salt water to escape and be absorbed by the surrounding tissues. Normally, the diagnosis of a leaking saline implant is easy to make. The breast is typically significantly smaller than it was before. When only one side is affected it has a marked difference in its appearance compared to the opposite side.

The diagnosis of a leaking silicone implant is more difficult to make. A small leak in a silicone implant may show no external signs. When the silicone escapes it normally is contained in the natural capsule or lining that forms naturally around the breast implant. Consequently, there is no change in the size or shape of the breast. In some cases, if the silicone leak is larger there can be some change in the appearance of the breast. Occasionally, patients complain of vague symptoms such as discomfort in a breast that has a leaking silicone implant. Sometimes, a leaking silicone implant can lead to a capsular contracture. A capsular contracture refers to the shrinkage or thickening of the natural capsule that forms around the breast implant.

If you have silicone breast implants and notice some type of change over time, then it is best for you to consult with your plastic surgeon so that he or she can decide on the best way to investigate the situation.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Breast lump

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Hi ktrees. You could be feeling scar tissue around your implants, or you could be feeling other changes in your breasts. The only way to know for sure is to see your doctor and have him or her examine your breasts. Ideally, you should have some sort of imaging done to rule out abnormalities in your breast tissue and determine if you have problems related to your implants. In either case, you'll feel better when you know what's going on and what options you have for addressing it. Good luck, and take care.

Irvine Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Signs of Leaking Breast Implants

+1

I am assuming you have silicone gel implants because with saline implants your breast would likely be much smaller.  With silicone implants its difficult to tell if your implants are ruptured with a simple physical exam.  A misshapen breast or mass may be an early sign of leakage.   I suggest you see your plastic surgeon, who will likely order an MRI or Ultrasound of your breast to rule out rupture.  

Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.

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