Saline implant ruptures require a very different approach than silicone implant ruptures. This is because the saline implant deflated immediately like a car tire. The advantage of a saline implant is that you know pretty quickly that you have a problem. This is because the implant volume literally disappears within a week.
This means that you don’t have to worry whether your implant has popped or not. It is either intact and inflated or popped and deflated. This is in contrast to a silicone implant that you do not easily know whether it has ruptured. In fact, early signs of a silicone implant can be a slight twinge or no signs at all. If you are worried about a silicone implant you no recourse but to obtain a screening mammogram or ultrasound if you are young. In addition, treatment for saline implant differs from silicone implants.
Treatment for saline popped implants requires immediate attention and revision surgery. This is because when the implant deflates, the breast tissues around the implant will collapse and contract around the implant. If the breast tissues are not expanded back out within a few weeks, patients do have the disadvantage of having breast tissue becoming contracted. What makes this a difficult problem is that it becomes technically difficult to achieve symmetry with the contralateral side once the deflated implant is replaced.
This is because the contracted tissues will not act like the supple breast tissue on the contralateral side. This is in contrast to a ruptured silicone implant which has its silicone gel leak out but not immediately escapes. In patients with a ruptured silicone implant, there are no immediate changes in the breast shape and no immediate contracture. This provides patients with ample time of duration of several months prior to implant replacement.
However, patients with ruptured implants should be cautioned that prolonged delays of several months to years in replacement of ruptured silicone implants will result in a secondary deformity called capsular contracture. In summary, if you are worried that your saline implants have popped, we encourage you to seek the care of a breast specialist. Your breast specialist will be able to easily diagnose a popped saline implant.
He or she will also urge you to have this implant replaced sooner than later to avoid breast tissue collapse and contracture. If you had your saline implants placed years ago, you may want to consider replacing both sides. If you have your implant cards, you should bring them with you so that your surgeon can order your replacement implants to match your old ones. Finally, depending on your implant manufacture, you may actually be able to obtain a warranty replacement and potential compensation for your revision surgery.
Please see this 69-year-old patient who underwent Bilateral breast implant and capsule removal. Unfortunately, her saline implants popped. She did have some early breast contracture of her right breast, but this was managed to provide her appropriate breast replacement and symmetry.