By John Di Saia, MD
When a reality show contestant ruptured her breast implants after jumping 20 feet off a rope swing, I felt compelled to address the concern that some breast augmentation patients have about this problem.
Bursting a breast implant is not usually so dramatic as what the reality show girl experienced. Then again, it is uncommon for a patient to know when the break occurred. Breast implant rupture is usually a low key event. Maybe in this case the lady did do some soft tissue damage as well as the break seems to have occurred with a fall from some height. It is conceivable to cause a muscle tear although I have only seen small ones. Torn muscle can hurt.
Usually the implant ruptures quietly and slowly over a few days the breast gets smaller (with a saline implant). If the implant is a silicone gel type, the rupture may not be noticed for quite a while. This is one of the reasons the new FDA recommendations are for breast MRIs periodically after silicone gel breast implant surgery.
The “fix” involves removal of the broken implant and frequently the capsule of scar tissue around it. Silicone gel implants generally have a larger amount of this scar reaction and in removing this scar the healthy tissue available to cover the implants gets thinner. This can be a problem if done repeatedly or if the reaction is long standing or extensive as the breast can be left looking more foreign. The newer generation silicone gel implants will hopefully have less of this reaction than their predecessors, but the truth is we don’t have enough information yet to really say that. The answer to how surgeons minimize this potential problem is a matter of opinion.
John Di Saia MD (www.ocbody.com) is a board certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. He has been board certified by both the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He reviews cases for the California Medical Board in their expert reviewer program and contributes to a number of medical journals and internet forums. His practice is founded on the concept of a Higher Level of Care.