One of the most common plastic surgeries done today is breast augmentation with implants. Breast implants are used to increase the size or appearance of the breasts, or as part of a reconstruction following breast cancer surgery.
Types of Implants
There are two main types of breast implants used in the United States: saline and silicone. Both have a soft outer shell of silicone, but the contents inside the shell are either one or the other. Saline implants are filled with a saline solution or sterile saltwater, while the silicone type is filled with a gel form of silicone.
Silicone implants are generally considered to look and feel more like a natural breast, due to the rippling that can occur with saline implants.
Even the process of getting the implants placed are different. Saline breast implants can be inserted while deflated allowing for a smaller scar, they also can be increased or decreased in size by a doctor injecting more saline into the implant, without the need for surgery. On the other hand, silicone implants will always remain the same size, necessitating a larger scar to permit the implant to be inserted, as well as another surgery if a woman is displeased with the look or size of the implant.
Breast implants typically have a lifespan of approximately 10 to 20 years and there are many reasons it might become necessary to have surgery to remove an implant – such as after a rupture.
Detecting Breast Implant Rupture
Implants may rupture due to surgical error, a fall, or even due to the pressure of a mammogram. A rupture can be more easily detected depending on its type: saline implants are easy to spot while the rupture of silicone implants are much harder to detect
Saline ruptures cause a rapid change to the shape of the breast in a matter of days. The saline itself is reabsorbed by the body.
In the case of a silicone implant rupture, the silicone remains in the body where it can spread to areas outside of the breast and into the lymphatic system. Your surgeon may recommend removal of the burst implant as well as any loose silicone before it can travel throughout the body.
Detecting a silicone rupture is often difficult for both patient and surgeon, so women who have had silicone-based breast implants are encouraged to have an MRI done three years following the implantation and then again every two years after that. Unfortunately, most insurance carriers do not authorize these MRIs, so the costs associated with these precautionary MRI screenings can run far upward of the original cost of the breast implant surgery – and many women may opt not to have them.
Reducing the Risk of Rupture
All breast implants used today have a limited lifespan and pose a risk of rupture.
It may seem that more breast implants are rupturing these days because more patients are opting for the silicone implant. Sure, it has a more natural look and feel – but it may also be more prone to result in a rupture. For example, it requires regular preventive MRIs after the initial implant surgery, which can be costly. If patients opt not to do this, it lessens the ability to detect issues with the implant before a rupture occurs.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best way to care for your breast implants, whether saline or silicone. Either way, you should be wary of contact sports or other activities with a risk of trauma to the chest area. Advise your mammogram technician that you have breast implants so they can accommodate that during the mammogram procedure.
If you live in Washington, Oregon, or near Albuquerque, New Mexico, contact the Lynx Healthcare facility nearest you by calling (509) 591-0070 or request an appointment now, and they will set you up with the facility closest to you.