Feel Like One Of My Saline Implants Is Slowly Leaking, How Can I Tell For Sure?

My saline implants are only 1 1/2 years old and I feel like the right one is slowly leaking. It is getting smaller than the left one and I ACTUALLY FEEL it leaking sometimes. My plastic surgeon checked it visually, and told me to come back when it looks like a flat tire. Pease give me some advice as to the "feeling" of the leaking and if I should get a second opinion. Very grateful and thank you in advance!!!


UPDATE:  inadvertantly forgot one very important question. I am 47. I received saline implants in Jan. 2010. (under the muscle) There is almost not a day since then that I have not had pain in both breasts. Seems to be in the muscle tightening up whenever I work, clean hose, or sometimes for no reason at all. No one I've asked can help me find the cause of this long-term pain issue and I don't want anymore pills. I REALLY need advice because I don't want to remove them. Thank You in advance!!

Doctor Answers 12

Leaking saline implants

Saline breast implants can have different types of leaks. If there is an implant rupture (or hole in the shell of the implant), the leak is usually quick and obvious, and the breast appears deflated as the body resorbs the fluid. Less commonly, the implant can leak due to a valve malfunction.  If so, the leak may be a slow leak as it can leak on and off depending on the amount of pressure and whether or not the valve is seated in place. (Saline implants are filled through a valve that is securely closed upon removing the tube used to fill the implant. In some cases the valve can become incompetent over time and lead to a slow leak.) Typically the easiest way to tell if there is a leak is by physical exam. Imaging studies are not usually needed for saline implant leaks, but are an option if it is unclear. Regardless of whether there is a leak or not, if you feel you have developed asymmetry compared to before, you may need another operation to restore symmetry. Changes over time can be due to many things, some implant related, and some simply age related.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Breast implant leaking?

Physical examination of your breasts as well as a history of sudden change in size or shape of the breasts will confirm that the breast implant is leaking. Generally, the breasts will feel softer and you may feel more irregularity and/or rippling of the implant itself (than before the deflation).

It may be that during your examination your surgeon was unsure of the answer to question–sometimes if there is a leakage of an implant it will undergo the changes described above over time.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

How Can I Tell if my Saline Implants Are Leaking? Answer:

While rare, they do occur and in my experience it comes from an incompetent valve that loses volume when the implant is full and pressure in the implant is high, and then stops leaking when enough saline is gone to lower the pressure in the implant and it starts holding again. And I have seen capsules stretch where the implant feels really loose, like its losing saline, but not. In both of these cases, unfortunately, you usually have to operate to tell! Pinholes usually go flat fast!

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Implant leaking?

If your implant has deflated it is usually very apparent.  A simple physical exam in most cases is all that is needed.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Is my saline breast implant leaking?

Saline implants can leak. It is uncommon but a known complication. The leak rates can be around 6% at 10 years. Usually, when a leak occurs, the implant deflates within a few days. In this situation, the body absorbs teh salt water and it becomes very obvious that your implant has deflated....like a flat tire. It is possible to have a slow leak but this is much more uncommon. If there is a small pin hole, the fluid will leak very slowly and it may take weeks to become obvious.  There is no good test to determine if you have a very small and slow leak. The best thing to do is to just wait and try to not to agonize over it.  Slight changes in volume and shape can occur as you progress through the healing process and does not necessary mean that there is a leak. 

Matthew Schulman, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 324 reviews

Saline implant leaking? How to know for sure.

Smaller and softer are sure signs that a saline implant is leaking. Your subjective sensation may be something else entirely, but even a tiny pinhole leak will eventually deflate, especially if you squeeze and feel your breasts to "check" them. BTW, textured saline implants leak much more commonly than smooth ones.

No other tests or consultations are necessary. Pick a time for replacement surgery. Discuss the costs with your surgeon--you will likely be pleasantly surprised.

This might be a good time to suggest silicone gel implants--the present 5th generation is made of a cohesive silicone gel that CANNOT leak or rupture, and IMHO, does NOT require periodic MRI scans to look for leak or rupture. (They can't leak or rupture, so what are you looking for? Not to mention that the MRI is WRONG 21% of the time--FDA data). The slightly higher cost of silicone implants will be reduced by the cost of the saline, so now is the time. You will love the softer, more natural feel! For more information on silicone implants, click on the link below. Best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Saline Implant Leaking

If you are noticing a gradual decrease in the size of one breast, it is very possible that your implant is leaking. While most commonly a leaking saline implant will  'deflate' rapidly (i.e. over the course of one day),  you may be experiencing a very uncommon 'slow leak' which is still treated with an implant replacement.  It is highly unlikely that you are feeling the implant leak and more likely you are noting the size change.  As the size discrepancy between the two breast becomes more noticeable, return to your plastic surgeon to develop an immediate treatment plan.  Best of luck!

Louis DeLuca, MD
Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

? Leaking implant

In general the implant usually leaks down rapidly over a few days if that is the problem.  Then there is no doubt.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Unlikely to actually feel leaking

While is it unlikely that what you are feeling is actually the leaking of your saline implant, if you notice that one side is getting smaller than the other side, then you likely are having a deflation of one side.  I suggest you go back to your plastic surgeon and get it replaced.  Usually, in my experience, whenever a saline implant deflates, it does so rather rapidly, often overnight.  Slow leaks are uncommon, but can happen too.

James Tang, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
3.4 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Lost volume is the key to saline leak

A slow leak in a saline breast implant is not common and in our experience if a leak develops the volume loss is rapid and dramatic. A slow leak is possible and again volume loss is the key, quite simply is the implant has become smaller it is leaking. You probably won't feel the leak, though it will be plain over time. See your surgeon again, compare your photos, and see if an early replacement might be an easier undertaking.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 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.