Which Breast Implants Are More Likely to Rupture?

Are Saline Breast Implants more likely to rupture than Silicone Breast Implants?

Doctor Answers 7

Other things to consider other than "rupture rate.".

No one has good data to be able to answer your question exactly. The word “rupture,” however, means different things in the two kinds of implants. Also, it means different things when applied to the different generations of silicone implants. All that is required for deflation of a saline implant is a small pinpoint hole. The saline then leaks out and is absorbed by the body. To detect a “rupture” of a silicone implant, the rent needs to be larger and the silicone needs to have oozed through the hole to the outside of the implant so the “outside” shell of the implant is wadded up inside the gel. This can be seen on an MRI. The new generation implants have a more cohesive gel, and there is some question whether a “rupture” of one of these can be detected by the usual means. In my opinion, it really does not matter in these implants. Even if I know you have a “leak” I would not recommend doing anything unless you are having symptoms. With the saline, however, you will be flat on the side of the leak and will, therefore, be symptomatic and need replacement.

In spite of all the talk about implant “rupture,” the implants are really very sturdy. What really matters, from the research that has been done, is who puts the implant in and how they do it. Although there are reports of rupture rates as high as 10-15 %, studies have shown that most of these are due to something sharp contacting the implant or a rip that occurred at the time the implant was put in. Where care is taken to assure an adequate incision to insert the implant and no instruments are used around the implant, the “rupture” rate is 1 % or less.

In summary, use one of the new cohesive silicone implants and a very reputable plastic surgeon who has a reoperation rate of 3% or less and is willing to share that with you. (A reoperation includes those for “ruptures,” revision for size, capsular contracture, etc.)

Highlands Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Rupture not the right term

Two things: First, the term "rupture" is used routinely but it sort of implies that implants explode. A crack can develop in the shell from wear and tear, and in the case of silicone it is a silent event because the gel inside is a semi-solid (cohesive). It doesn't go anywhere. With saline, the solution is absorbed into the body and so the implants deflates. Neither situation is harmful.

Second, there is no way to truly know what the rate of these occurrences is. You would have to enroll a lot of patients with a specific type of implant and have 100% follow-up for at least 20 years; meanwhile, the design of the implants continues to improve so it wouldn't be relevant to the implants on the market at that time even if you could do such a study. The companies are doing their best to get long-term data but it will never be perfect because people tend to drop out.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

All implants have a risk of rupture

Different studies quote different rates of rupture for both saline and silicone implants, so it really depends on what you read. The take home message is that both carry a risk of rupture-- with salines, you know (the implant will deflate as your body absorbs the saline) but with silicone, often you don't without an imaging study (MRI). It's important to discuss the pros and cons of each type of implant with your surgeon so that he may review everything with you first, prior to choosing the type of implant you wish to have. In this way, you can decide which type of implant you feel the most comfortable with.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 149 reviews


I usually quote 1% rupture rate for saline implants which is usually due to a defect in the valve. I'm not sure if there is an accurate rupture rate for the new silicone implants since the companies have done such a great job at refining the shell that I have not seen one. 

Jacob Freiman, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 268 reviews

Rupture rate of breast implants only part of the story


Rupture rate is only part of the story. Silicone gel implants leak silicone into your body and many women's bodies respond to this with more scar tissue over the long term. So you need to think of which is worse: ruptured saline implants or hardened silicone gel with scarring in your breasts. It is all a matter of personal choice.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

All implants will fail in time...

Hi there-

IT's best to think of your implants as you would a new car- even if you buy a really nice one, you know that sooner or later, you're going to need to replace it...

Today's implants are much better than the ones we used only a few years ago, and they are constantly being improved, but will always be man-made devices- and so will fail over time for one reason or another. Until then, they have been proven to have a very high level of patient satisfaction and safety.

Find a surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and discuss this with them- here's hoping you get the breasts you dream of!

Armando Soto, MD, FACS
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Agree the term rupture is misused as it relates to breast implants

In my experience, I have found that saline implants deflate more frequently than current generation silicone implants.

As has been stated previously when a saline implant deflates, your body will reabsorb it safely and the implant will need to be replaced.

Dr. Edwards

Michael C. Edwards, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 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.