Breast Implant Rippling

November 21, 2013

Breast augmentation is an effective way to increase the size and reshape the breasts. Though the surgery generally produces excellent results, complications can occur. One complication associated with breast implants is rippling. The rippling that occurs with breast implants has two primary causes.

  • Traction rippling occurs when the breast implant is too large. The connective and breast tissues and skin of the chest are strained against the implant - this is what causes the rippling. It can happen in both silicone gel or saline breast implants. 
  • Fill rippling is associated with saline breast implants. It happens when the implant is not filled up enough, resulting in rippling of the implant shell, which can sometimes be seen beneath the skin. Saline breast implants are more likely to cause wrinkling than silicone gel implants; this is because saline implants are filled after they are placed in the breast pocket. If the saline implant is underfilled, ripples can develop. 

It is also possible for saline implants to quickly deflate, particularly if they are overfilled. This can cause a rippled appearance.

Breast implants are more likely to result in rippling if they are textured. Conversely, smoother implants are less likely to result in wrinkling.     

Breast implants that are placed underneath the pectoralis major result in rippling because the muscle provides more coverage of the implant. However, implants placed above the muscle are more likely to show rippling of the implant because there is less muscle and tissue coverage.

Capsular contracture, which results when connective tissue has formed around the implant, can also cause a rippled appearance in the breast. You will need to go to a trained surgeon to diagnose and treat the problem.


Choosing appropriately-sized, smooth, silicone gel breast implants will decrease a patient’s chances of developing the appearance of ripples and wrinkles in their breasts. Placing the implants underneath the muscle also helps. Thinner women are more likely to experience wrinkling because they have less soft tissue covering the periphery of the implants.

Patients are most likely to experience wrinkling or rippling if they are thinner, they choose to use larger, textured, slightly underfilled saline breast implants, and have them placed subglandularly rather than under the muscle. 

Larger breasted women usually don’t need to worry about rippling and wrinkling as much. Women who start out with medium to large size breasts generally have enough soft tissue to cover the implants on all sides. The breasts will also look and feel more natural.


The treatment for rippling is generally surgical. Patients who have saline implants may need to have them replaced with newer silicone gel models. The implants may need to be placed underneath the pectoralis major muscle to cover the implant. If the patient is especially thin or has recently lost a lot of weight, they may need to gain a little weight so there is more soft tissue coverage. 

Despite what you may read, rippling and wrinkling of breast implants cannot be massaged out, and there are no exercises that will make them go away. Typically, breast implant revision surgery is required to address breast implant rippling. 

Contact Crawford Plastic Surgery to find out if you are a good candidate for breast implant revision surgery.

Add new comment