What Would Cause Breast Implant Rupture?

Doctor Answers 13

Implant Rupture

The manufacturers of breast implants clearly state that these devices aren’t intended to last a lifetime.Despite this, many patients can expect to have implants last their entire lifetime.Current studies suggest that implants deflate at a rate of one percent at one year and three percent at three years.Over time, this number can be expected to grow.
Implants may deflate with no apparent cause or may deflate secondary to some type of trauma.When implants spontaneously deflate, the cause is usually implant fatigue.Over the course of time, implants simply wear out.Under these circumstances, the decision to replace implants is easy.If a patient is doing well and not having problems with breast implants, we see no reason to routinely replace implants, just because a set time period has passed.
Although insurance doesn’t generally cover the cost of implant replacement, these devices do come with a warranty.In some cases, extended warranties can be purchased, as well.When implants deflate, the warranty usually covers the cost of replacement.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Cause of a ruptured implant

The usual cause of a leaking implant is a crease in the implant.  This can occur when the capsule tightens around the implant or if the pocket is not big enough for the implant. It is the daily grind of working against the fold that causes a pin hole leak in the implant.   With the new form of breast implants produced after 2009 there is little chance of the implant gel material migrating since the gel is more cohesive than it was prior to this time.  Therefore it may be difficult to tell if it is ruptured since the implant tends to keep its original shape. The problem is non an emergency.  You would need some type of diagnostic study to determine if it was actually ruptured such as a  mammogram, MRI or ultrasound.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Implant Leaking Rupture


The most common cause of breast implant failure is fatigue and breakage of the implant envelope/shell.

This happens most commonly near a fold. Repeated folding-unfolding-folding at any one spot cause a weakness and then a leak. (This has been seen with airplane wings and other man-made structures repeatedly subjected to compression-decompression). Less commonly leaking is realated to a faulty valve in some saline implants. This was more common 20 years ago than it is now.

Breast implants are very resistant to compression. Being hugged, unless by a very powerful force (like hitting the steering wheel) will not cause rupture.

Because smooth implants are less stationary in the breast pocket than textured implants, their folds are also less fixed. As a result, textured surface breast implants are associated both with more rippling and with a higher rate of earlier leaking.

Unlike many other devices, BOTH Allergan and MENTOR, the producers of the majority of breast implants in this country, will replace all their implants FREE. Make sure your Plastic surgeon uses one of their breast implants and not a cheaper overseas implant. It will become much more expensive when your breast implants deflate.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Implant rupture

There are a few reasons why an implant might leak. If there is a valve as is the case with saline implants, the valve can become unplugged and/or tissue can grow into the valve causing the saline to leak. Fold-failure is also a presumed cause, particularly for silicone gel implants where the bag fractures at a point of folding and subsequent micro-friction. Implants might be defective or the bag might be inadvertantly damaged during insertion.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Implants do Not Last Forever

Our own bodies give out with time as does our cars and just about everything else in life and so is the case for implants.  For silicone implants prior to 2006, ruptures occur at rates of approximately 1-2% per year for the first ten years then markedly increases after that time period. A rupture or deflation of the implant may be experienced at any point after the initial augmentation; this complication may be increased by an under-filling or overfilling of saline solution into the implant, excessive compression, trauma, and other causes. (If the implant shell if not filled with the correct amount of saline, there may be a crease or fold in the shell which often leads to a rupture). You will be able to self-diagnose the need for an implant exchange (if using a saline implant) because if the current implant ruptures, the breast will shrink to approximately its preoperative size. A silicone implant that has a rupture is usually noted on a routine mammogram or MRI scan. In either case although the situation needs to be corrected on a timely basis, it is not dangerous to your health from our current knowledge base. Silicone implants after 2006 are more cohesive and less likely to leak or have silicone migration.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Breast implant rupture

Implants are made of a durable silicone shell that can withstand tons and tons of pressure. Simply squeezing them with your hand will probably not rupture the implant - you'll do more harm to your breast tissues than the implant itself.  It would take a lot of force to rupture them, such as a high speed accident or fall from great height. However, ruptures may also be caused if punctured or if their shell gets more fragile (usually with age).

Michael Constantin Gartner, DO
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 140 reviews

Several things can cause rupture.


Thank you for your question!

Breast implants rupture anytime there is a break in the shell or when a valve is damaged or unsealed. This can be caused by several different factors. The implant could be damaged before it was inserted in your body. Over or under filling could potentially lead to an increased risk of rupture. Capsular contracture, trauma to the breast such as a car accident, pressure during a mammogram, or any other medical procedure performed in the breast area could all possibly cause a breast implant rupture.

With saline implants, the rupture is pretty noticeable as your implant will just deflate, and the saline will be absorbed by your body. With silicone implants, it can be a little more difficult to tell. The silicone can stay within the capsule of your breast or it could leak to other surrounding areas. The best way to tell if you have a rupture with silicone implants is to have an MRI.

Obviously, you should also have your plastic surgeon examine you.

Best regards,

Dr. Speron

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

If we knew we would correct the problem

Both Mentor and Allergan spend a lot of time and money researching the causes of implant rupture. No one knows for sure but the consensus seems to revolve around fold, either gross or micro, in the implant. These folds create weak areas that can rupture over time. True? Who knows but I suspect there is more to it such as weakness in the silicone elastomer shell that occurs at the time of manufacturing. Only time and research will tell.

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Implants leak with normal use, and from problems


Surgeons and patients share a desire for long-lasting breast implants, but the facts are that they are temporary devices. They move with each movement of your body, and we want them to do that. They undergo pressure, rubbing, etc within your body. This cannot be expected to go on forever without wear and tear on the device.
Implants from Allergan and Mentor, whether filled with saline or silicone gel eventually will need replacement in most women.

The occasional problems or specific causes include: fall, car wreck, other chest trauma, overly vigorous manipulation, distortion by capsular contracture, breast biopsy or other mechanical damage to the implant. Gradually wearing out is probably the most common reason for leakage. Most women we see in daily practice had no specific cause for their deflation or leakage.

Saline leakage is easier to diagnose and treat than silicone gel leakage.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Causes of implant rupture

First of all, implants are man made, so they are not perfect. The most common cause of implant rupture is capsular contracture. This is a progressive process that develops in some patients where the scar tissue pocket around the implant shrinks and squeezes the implant. creating folds in its shell. Over time a plane of weakness develops and the shell cracks. If you have saline implants you'll notice a decrease in your breast size, but with silicone gel implants you might not notice anything, or oyur breast might feel softer or might have a change in shape. Other causes could be trauma from a car accident.

George Marosan, MD
Bellevue Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 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.