What is the Body's Reaction to a Leaking Silicone Implant?

Fever? Swollen glands?

Doctor Answers 10

What is the Body's Reaction to a leaking Silicone Gel Breast Implant?

Regarding: "What is the Body's Reaction to a Leaking Silicone Implant?
Fever? Swollen glands

No medical device or implant in the history of this country and in the history of Medicine has been more extensively scrutinized more than breast implants, especially silicone filled breast implants. They have been more closely studied than heart valves, pacemakers, artificial joints or blood vessels, shunts etc. The overwhelming consensus has been that silicone ( a polymer of Silicon and Oxygen Si-O2-Si-O2 similar to glass) is inert. By itself, it does NOT cause fevers, autoimmune responses, cancer or swollen lymph nodes.

When silicone gel leaks out of the silicone breast shell it may cause vague, if any symptoms, and may cause an increased scarring around the implant but this is not always the case. In many cases, the only way to actually diagnose a leaking silicone gel implant is with a MRI scan.

When the body reacts with fever, chills and other symptom,s you may have a secondary infection of the implant which is causing the symptoms.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Silicone implant rupture and body reaction

The body's reaction to the ruptured silicone impland is effected by several factors including type of silicone, length of time exposure has occuirred, amount of silicone, etc. Initially inflammation occurs, followed by a foreign body reaction and slow migration through the tissues, Fever can occur but is rare.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Signs/Symptoms of Leaking Silicone Gel

Silicone gel implants have been extensively studied. The synopsis of the data indicate that leaked silicone gel does not cause systemic disease reactions (ie. does not cause lupus, autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc.). What is less clear is the impact upon local tissue. Silicone gel ruptures have been reported to instigate foreign body reactions such as granulomas in breast tissue and effusions within the capsule, however this may be due to the trace elements within the silicone gel itself. Also, the published reports of these reactions typically involve earlier generations of silicone gel implants which contained a less-cohesive, lower viscosity gel. This gel was capable of migrating through the capsule more easily. Today's cohesive gel implants contain gel that is much less likely to migrate. In essence, if a person is experiencing redness, swelling, or pain, the concern is more likely for an infection or a capsular contracture than from a leakage of silicone gel.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Leaking silicone implant

Really, there should be no systemic reaction to a leaking silicone implant. This has been studied extensively. However, I have seen more scar tissue around ruptured implants as the body walls it away and contains the leak. This can present as firmness (capsular contracture) and pain in more severe cases with breast contour distortion.

Body's Reaction to a Leaking Silicone Implant

Interesting question! Medically it has been scientifically proven that silicone causes no medical symptoms or signs. In real life there are always exceptions, fevers, chills, swelling, infections, etc. So please discuss these issues in person with boarded plastic surgeons. 

Symptoms your Body May Feel from a Ruptured Silicone Implant

From what we know, silicone doesn't cause problems.  All the studies in the early 1990s demonstrated that silicone did not cause any disease.  However, if the implant is leaking it should be replaced as it could spread to other areas and may cause lumps in other areas.  Unfortunately, the study could not relate any systemic diseases such as any autoimmune diseases to silicone.

Genevieve MacDonald, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Silicone Implant Leaks

The FDA has extensively studied silicone implants with particular intensity and have found no link to swollen glands, rashes, joint aches and pains.  Leaks from silicone gel implants are contained locally within the capsule.

Dr. ES

Silicone implant leakage

Silicone is an inert substance. The body should not  "react: to it.  This has been study extensively with implants. 

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

What a leaking silicone gel implant can feel like

Silicone gel implants are safe and well studied, however over time all implants can wear and the there can be flaws or holes in the implant shell which contains the silicone. The result is referred to as an intracapsular leak as the gel gets on the outside of the implant, though stays within the capsule which naturally forms around the implant. An intracapsular leak can be 'silent' for many years, hence the need for MRI studies to assist in detecting a leak. Over time however, the gel in contact with the capsule may cause drawing pain or tenderness in the breast, and the irritation in the capsule will lead to calcifications and capsule contracture where the implant rounds up and becomes firm or misshaped. A leaking implant will not produce fever, swollen glands, allergic reaction, or any recognized illness.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Silicone implants don't truly "leak" because gel is cohesive

Silicone implants have been more intensively studied than any other medical device and I can say categorically that silicone gel used in implants today is nontoxic. So even if the gel inside did "leak" out, you should not experience the symptoms you mention in your question. As a point of clarification it is also important to know that because the gel is cohesive, meaning it is a semi-solid and not a liquid, it doesn't leak. A silicone implant could be sliced open and the gel doesn't go anywhere.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 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.