One of my Saline Implants Has Ruptured. Can I Get my Doctor to Drain the Other One?

Hi, I am a breast cancer survivor. I had chemo and radiation on my right breast. Afterwards the muscle on the right breast tightened up around my implant and it burst one night. My implants were 20 years old. I cant afford to have it fixed so what I am asking is, can I get my doctor to drain the other implant so they can be more even...thanks so much...broke in bama

Doctor Answers 6

Dealing With Ruptured Saline Implant

It is fairly simple to remove the saline from or even remove your implant(s).  I have done this on occasion in my office operating room under local anesthesia at minimal cost, if this is your wish.  You did state that you were "broke" but did not state whether or not you have any form of insurance.  If you do have any form of insurance, there is a federal law that dictates coverage of your surgery when it involves someone with a history of breast cancer.  This includes Medicare and Medicaid as well as commercial insurance carriers.

Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Simple drainage of saline implants

Dear Broke in Bama;

Sorry to hear about your asymmetry.  I have had this issue arise with not only one-side leaks, but also in patients who became pregnant and wanted their saline implants drained because their breasts became engorged.  Simple drainage can be done in an exam room.  The surgeon will prep your skin with a disinfectant, inject some local anesthesia, and then insert a needle through your skin and into the implant.  The fluid can then be removed easily.  It is not dangerous to leave an empty saline  implant in you, but some patients have experienced discomfort because the shell of the implant folds.  If you simply remove the implants (which can also be done with you awake using just local anesthesia), you may have a problem with your body filling up the scar tissue capsule left behind with fluid.  This is called a "seroma".  Therefore, if you want to have your implants removed, consider getting a surgeon to remove all the scar tissue capsule your body has formed around the implant as well.  This type of procedure should be done with you asleep (general anesthesia), but your insurance company will likely cover this.

Hope it goes well.

Victor Ferrari, MD, FACS
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Popping Implants

Yes, it is actually quite easy to deflate saline implants.  You want to make sure that you have saline implants.  But, before you go to deflation you should seriously consider exchange of the already deflated implant.  Your health insurance should cover the cost since the implants were placed for reconstruction.  If you do not have insurance, look into costs in your area for an exchange.  You might also consider going to a Resident's or Fellow's plastic surgery clinic in your area.  These are clinics that are staffed by physicians in training with supervision by experienced surgeons.  I know UAB has an excellent reputation, try there before losing the other side.

Suresh Koneru, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Draining saline breast implants without surgery

It is possible for your physician to create a leak intentionally in your remaining saline breast implant in a sterile manner. The better approach is to remove the implants, which often can be done at a very low cost under a local anesthetic. Because you are a breast cancer survivor, all insurance including state Medicaid will cover the removal and replacement of your implants, which is of course the best option.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Ruptured implant

This question comes up from patients from time to time.  While I don't advise patients to do this, if you are certain that you have saline implants, your plastic surgeon may be willing to rupture the other one so that you are more symmetric.  If you have health insurance, it should cover the replacement of the ruptured implant, however. 


Laurence Weider, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 97 reviews

Breast Implants Covered for Mastectomy Reconstruction

First of all it is not a good idea to have leave deflated implants in your body.Although it is possible to leave ruptured saline implants in your body it is not recommended by most plastic surgeons. Once there is a leak in the implant, then serum can also enter it which is a potential site for infection. In general leaving a foreign body without providing a purpose doesn't make a lot of sense. Removing implants is straight forward and can even be done in the office under local anesthesia to minimize costs if this is what is preventing you from considering this recommendation. More importantly it is a   federal law that  you will have  coverage of your surgery for such problems following mastectomy for breast cancer.   This includes commercial insurance, Medicare, MediCal (California) and Medicaid.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 150 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.