I Have Saline Implants That Are Now WRINKLED, Sagging, Resting in my Arm Pits. Are My Implants Disintegrating?

My surgery was in 1995. Are my implants disintegrating? My recent mammo confirmed "they" are leaking. Am I in danger? Does this contribute to fatigue? I am 54; am I too old to have new implants? Are silicon (more natural) implants safe now? As mine are under the muscle; have the muscles pulled the implants under my arm? Why is there a "patch" visible in the structure of my right implant? Am I asking too many questions? I don't have ability to provide a photo.

Doctor Answers 19

Should I Take My Implants Out?

Thank you for your question!  If you have a confirmed silent rupture I would take them out as soon as you can.   I suggest you seek a board certified plastic surgeon and discuss your concerns with him or her.  Best of luck!Dr Dhaval PatelDouble Board Certified Plastic SurgeonChicagoHoffman EstatesOak Brook

Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Saline Implant Rippling with Breast Tissue Thinning

What you are likely experiencing is just the age of the saline implants. They are not disintegrating although they may have a slow saline leak. But most likely your breast tissue has thinned and the normal rippling of the implants is exaggerated and more visibly seen now. The valve on the implants,while certainly capable of being felt, may even be able to be seen. The time is coming where you will need to consider replacing your implants with new ones, perferably of the silicone type which will not develop these same types of future problems.

Saline Implants may need to be revised

Breast implant manufactures recommend that the implant be viewed as a temporary device, although exactly how long the implant will last is somewhat variable. The changes in your breast that you are describing are not uncommon in women with thin tissue who have had saline implants in place for a long time. Although the implant may not change significantly over time, the breast tissue continues it's normal aging process and becomes thinner, revealing more rippling of the underlying implant. Stretching of the implant capsule may lead to malposition of the implant, especially into the armpit. If you can feel a "patch", one of your implants may even be inverted. When saline implants leak, they usually completely deflate, with obvious results. I have not seen significant disintegration of saline implant shells when they are removed for deflation. There have not been reports of illness from deflating implants, they just go flat, so I don't think your implants are a cause of fatigue. At 54, you are certainly not too old to have your implants replaced or revised, in fact this a common procedure. Silicone implants may be an excellent alternative to give softer, more natural results in patients with thin tissue. 

Implant failure

If you have saline implants then they would tend to go flat in a matter of days rather than slowly over time if there is a defect in them.  It may be that your tissue has thinned out over time making them more palpable.  It is also possible that the pocket has stretched out somewhat which would why they have migrated under your arm.  The muscle action may also contribute to this migration.  Based on your description, I can think of a number of things that might improve your situation, however, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon so that he/she can examine you and review your options.

Edwin C. Pound, III, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Saline implants disintegrating?

Thank you for your questions.  The bottom line is that implants can rupture but they do not disintegrate.  If you develop a leak in a saline implant, you know quite readily that you have a leak because one breast becomes smaller than the other.  Mammograms are not used to tell if an implant is leaking.  Some rippling or wrinkling of the shell can be misinterpreted as a leak, this is more so in silicone implants rather than saline implants.  A leaking saline implant causes no ill health issues and would be very unlikely to be causing any fatigue.  It is not uncommon for implants to be laterally displaced (towards the arm pits) over time.  If you are in good health at age 54, you are certainly not too old to undergo an implant revision procedure.  

Best of luck.


Brian C. Reuben, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Saline filled implant problems

A saline implant can develop a small pin hole leak.  This usually happens due to the normal wear at a fold or crease.  If you develop a pin hole leak all of the saline will like out, so unless your breasts have decreased in size then it is unlikely that you have a leak.  I am not sure how a mammogram confirmed a leak of a saline filled implant.  You sound like you have thin skin and not much soft tissue coverage over the implant and may be better with a gel implant. 

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Saline implants do not disintegrate

but they can deflate completely and it would be obvious if they did.  Regardless, your concerns REQUIRE that you see a local plastic surgeon to evaluate your implants and breasts.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Implants wrinkling

It sounds like you need an examination in person.  Wrinkling of implants or rippling can happen in someone with thin tissues.  Sometimes strattice can help with rippling.  It is your choice to remove them or not.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Implant replacement for saline implants

Implant replacement and support could be the answer to your question - I use Strattice to reinforce modifications to the implant capsule which creates an internal bra for the implant.

Implants Disintegrating

You should see a surgeon about having your implants replaced or removed. The choice is yours. There is no link between fatigue and implants. Check with your warranty to see if the implants will be covered should you choose to replace them.

Jeffrey Hartog, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 59 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.