What Are the Complications from Leaking Breast Implants?

I had my first saline implant on 2000. Last July 2007, I had my first mammogram and the technician repeated the procedure 6 times despite informing her of my implants.

When I got the result, it was noted that there is a leak from the implant. That was almost 2 yrs ago, and I've had this anxiety of complications from the leak. Please let me know what is best to do. Thank you

Doctor Answers 10

Ruptured Silicone? Saline? Combo?

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This is confusing. When saline implants leak they deflate and leak. Eventually, they become flat like a flat tire and usually it is very very obvious. The exception is a partial leak; leaks only when it is compressed or a double lumen implant that is part saline and part silicone. The saline may have leaked but the silicone is intact. Lastly, you could be mistaken and it could be a silicone implant.

However, ruptures are difficult to diagnose accurately with mammograms and usually require MRIs. First, gather or obtain your old records and seek a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss the options.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

It's just IV fluid

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There is absolutely no risk to your health from a leaking saline breast implant. The contents are just IV fluid and will be absorbed by your body and urinated out. The empty implant shell is also of no harm to you but is best removed and replaced.

Saline implant leak

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A leak from a saline implant shows up as a defalted breast. The saline is basically sterile salt water and the body absorbs it. This is very simple to detect in most cases.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Saline leak is very benign

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If your implants are saline there is nothing to worry about from a leak as the implant will deflate completely over time.

It is highly unlikely that your implant has been leaking for 2 years. I recommend that you let a board certified plastic surgeon examine you to rule out any implant problems. If you have gel it is a different story and you will need an imaging study (ultrasound or MRI).

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Leaking Saline or Silicone Gel: Makes a difference

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Melissa10: Leaking saline or silicone gel makes a difference. Saline: There are no complications from leaking saline. It is filled with the same fluid you receive when having an IV for dehydration or medical procedure. You would normally be able to see an obvious difference in implant size and often feel the deflated empty implant. Silicone gel: Gel leakage within the natural scar capsule appears to only cause increased chance of capsular contracture (hardening) and calcium deposition. Gel leakage into surrounding tissues causes scar lumps (silicone granuloma) that may be felt as breast masses or detected on mammogram or ultrasound. As with saline fill, leakage should be treated by removal and possibly replacement of implants. Removal of leaking gel implants is more involved than saline. Mammograms: (1) Breast cancer remains a common and treatable disease, so don't skip breast imaging. Ask your primary care physician or radiologist if mammogram continues to be your best option, whether MRI or another alternative is best. (2) Mammograms are not normally able to detect leakage of a saline implant except to see it completely collapsed, which the patient already knows. Mammograms are also not normally able to detect leakage of a silicone gel implant within the capsule. If it leaked beyond the capsule, I would definitely recommend removal. Hope these points help you.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon

I don't think you have a leak

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Usually, when saline implants fail, they deflate fairly rapidly and you will notice changes. Smaller size and rippling are quite noticeable. There are slower leaks that take longer, but I think in 2 years you should see a difference by now. Mammograms are not a good way to diagnose and failed implant, especially saline. When Saline devices fail, the saline is absorbed into the body and is safe. It is the same as getting Intravenous saline. .

Michael S. Beckenstein, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Leak from saline implant usually obvious

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The report doesn't make sense to me. Since saline is a liquid, if there is a leak then the implant completely deflates almost always. In any case, saline is the same fluid that is in an IV, so it is harmlessly absorbed into the body. And if there is a deflation, then you should be eligible for a replacement implant from the manufacturer.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

There are no health issues.

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Hi! If you have a leaking saline implant, one breast must be much smaller than the other! Even if you have a leaking silicone implants, it is only a local problem because silicone does not cause any diseases.

So, don't worry. You just need to have the implant replaced and the implant pocket re-created to obtain good symmetry. If in fact you have saline implants, you might consider replacing both with silicone implants.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

No complications from leaking implants

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Ruptured saline implants will not cause any complications other than the breasts becoming smaller. It is a relatively easy procedure to replace the implants.  Depending on the age of your implants you may be eligible for warranty coverage. Check with your surgeon.

John Squires, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Saline Breast Implant leak poses no health risks

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If you have Saline Breast implants there is no health risk of a leak. However, if you have had a leak of a Saline breast Implant you should notice a smaller breast on the side of the leak. If your breasts have remained the same size, and you do have saline breast implants, then it is unlikely that you have a leak.

If I misread your question and you in fact have Silicone gel implants, then an MRI is necessary to document the leak.

Long term studies have failed to show a correlation between Silicone Gel breast implants and systemic disease.

A serious rupture of a Silicone Gel implant can cause local problems such as granuloma formation if the gel leaves the breast area and migrates into the under arm area.

MRI is the best technique to detect a Silicone Gel implant Rupture.

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.