Causes of Breast Implant Failure and Rupture

December 16, 2013

It is much safer to get breast implants today than it was even five years ago. Technology has significantly improved, creating better implant shells, with sturdier and more natural constructions, to make them more durable and less likely to rupture once they are in the body. Though implant construction has improved greatly, there is still a risk of implant failure. Implant failure does not typically pose significant health risks, but it does affect the aesthetics of the breast and may require additional surgeries to remove the damaged implant.

Surgical Error

Rarely, rupture is a result of surgical error. With one small nick in the silicone shell of the implant, it can begin to leak its contents.

Pocket Size

Placing a large implant into a small breast pocket may also cause a rupture, as undue stress is put on the implant’s shell, causing it to fail. In that same vein, too small implants into too large of a pocket, allows the implant to shift around more than it should, and can also cause it to fail. Silicone implants come in standard sizes, but most saline implants are filled after they are placed in the breast.

Construction Flaws

It is just as rare that the implant itself has an innate flaw in construction, causing it to break open once it is inside the body. Because they are placed inside the body, silicone and saline implants are heavily regulated and thoroughly checked before they are implanted. Despite this, there is the minute possibility that a faulty implant is placed and begins to leak shortly after the surgery is completed.

Normal Wear and Tear

Most breast implant failures are the result of the standard wear and tear that takes place in the years after it has been placed in the body. The implant is in a high motion area of the body. As the arm and torso lifts and moves and twists, the tissues in the breast move against the implant and can eventually create a hole or fold in part of the shell. With a fold, it creates a weakness in the shell, where eventually, a small tear can develop. Since breast implants are not intended to last forever, there is no legitimate way to avoid this.


On very rare occasions, breast implants fail during a mammogram; however, this cause is so rare that it should not stop a woman from getting her mammogram. Especially when implants are fairly new, before they have settled into the pocket, implants can be ruptured by a sharp bump or an unsupported fall. Any direct impact can burst or tear an implant, even after they have settled.

Saline Implant Valves

Many saline implants have a valve, where the doctor injects the saline to fill them once the implants are in place. This valve may act as a point of weakness for the implant and cause rupture or leakage.

Whether a woman has saline or silicone implants, leakage and rupture presents no health risks when the implants are removed and replaced in a timely manner. Ruptured implants do cause an aesthetic problem, which can be corrected with an additional surgery. To learn more about breast implant revision surgery, contact Crawford Plastic Surgery.


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