If your silicone gel implant ruptures, you might – or might not – notice a change in the size or shape of your breast. You might feel pain, tenderness, swelling, numbness, burning, or tingling on or around your breast. However, you might not have any symptoms, and might not realize that your implant is broken and possibly leaking. This can be harmful to your health, and the longer the implant is leaking silicone in your body, the more harm it can cause.
The best way to know whether your silicone breast implant has ruptured is to have an MRI with a breast coil. Unfortunately, MRIs are expensive and MRIs to check for implant rupture may not be covered by insurance.
Because most women don’t realize that a silicone gel implant has ruptured, the FDA recommends having breast MRIs regularly to detect ruptures that have no symptoms. When silicone breast implants were first approved, the FDA recommended that all women undergo a breast MRI 3 years after getting breast implants, and every other year after that. However, because of the expense and the reluctance of plastic surgeons to encourage MRIs for silent ruptures, very few women followed the FDA’s advice. As of October 2020, FDA now recommends an MRI 5-6 years after the initial surgery and every 2-3 years after that. That way any leaks can be caught early, helping to protect your health.
A mammogram is not usually an accurate way to diagnose a ruptured silicone-gel breast implant. In addition, the pressure from mammography could cause the implant to break and could cause a broken implant to leak.
If even one of your silicone gel implants is ruptured, it should be removed as soon as possible. The longer the silicone is leaking into your body, the more time it has to migrate to your other organs, such as your lungs or liver, or even your brain. When that happens, the silicone can be impossible to remove.
All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.