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Silicone breast implants: What happens if they rupture?

If silicone breast implants rupture, what are the possible complications?

Updated: 2022-12-07

Answer Section

Ruptured silicone breast implants can cause breast pain or changes in the contour or shape of the breast. However, ruptured silicone breast implants aren't thought to cause breast cancer, reproductive problems or connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

When a silicone breast ruptures, it might go unnoticed because the silicone tends to remain trapped in the surrounding tissue. This is known as a silent rupture.

It's possible, however, for the tissue to become irritated and swollen. Additional scar tissue also might form. This can cause problems in the breast, including:

  • Pain, soreness or swelling
  • Changes in size or shape
  • Lumps
  • Hardening

If you have silicone breast implants and suspect that an implant might have ruptured, talk to your plastic surgeon. An imaging test, such as an MRI or ultrasound, can show whether the implant has ruptured.

If you have a silent rupture — one that's not causing signs or symptoms — your plastic surgeon will explain possible treatment options. Some women take a wait-and-see approach, while others prefer to remove or replace the ruptured implant. Ask your surgeon to help you weigh the pros and cons.

If you have a ruptured silicone implant that's causing signs or symptoms, your surgeon will likely recommend surgical removal. If you want, a new implant can usually be inserted at the same time. If you no longer want breast implants, you might want a breast lift or other corrective surgery.

Keep in mind that breast implants aren't guaranteed to last a lifetime. Continue to have yearly clinical breast exams by your doctor. If there are new changes, see a plastic surgeon for monitoring and to review treatment options.