Breast Implant Problems: Symptoms and Risks

Breast augmentation can be done to change the size/shape of your breast or as part of breast cancer treatment. You might experience some breast implant problems like the outer shell breaking or saltwater/gel leaks.

Are you considering getting a breast implant? This procedure is also known as breast augmentation and is done for different reasons. Most implants are done to change the appearance of the breast including the size and shape. However, sometimes it’s also done as part of breast cancer treatment. There are many reasons why women have this procedure done. Sometimes it’s done to improve how the breast looks and feels. Many women also experience boosts in body image and self-esteem. It’s also important to know about breast implant problems. For example, this can include leaks of saltwater or gen inside the implant’s silicone shell.

There are three main types of breast implants that can last up to 10+ years. The main options are ones that are filled with a salt-water solution or gel. The units have different structures. However, the main issue is if the silicone shell gets damaged. If it breaks then it can cause a substance within the implant starting to leak. It’s important to know the symptoms caused by the problems. There are also potential risks involved, which you should also know about. This will help you to deal with the situation as effectively as possible and minimize the effects of problems like leaks.

Common Breast Implant Problems  

After you have breast implants inserted there are various problems you might encounter. In fact, it’s quite common to experience them. There’s some debate about how often problems occur with them.

There are two main types of issues. They include system and local problems. Some local issues involve the implant breaking, losing air, or wrinkling. Sometimes the implant’s capsule is also affected, which causes another type of local problem.

Then there are problems with the implant’s system. This can involve different’ problems related to immune system problems and diseases related to connective tissue. These are more serious issues so it’s also important to know the signs that you’re experiencing them.

Sometimes women experience symptoms right after breast implant surgery. They include ones like:

  1. Swelling
  2. Pain
  3. Tightness
  4. Bruising

Sometimes there are problems that happen during the surgery. If you experience such symptoms post-surgery you should contact your doctor immediately. The reason is some possible complications can be serious like nerve damage. The symptoms can also be either short-term or long-term.

One of the most serious results of implant surgery is a type of “cell cancer” that involves the immune system. This involves a type of cell known as ALCL. The good news is that cancer is very rare. However, it’s still possible after surgery.

If you get saline solution (saltwater) implants the implants could leak over time. The good news is that the body can absorb the saline solution then get rid of it. However, the implant will still have to be removed afterward. It’s also a fast leak so it’s easy to detect.

The situation is different with silicone gel implants. The leaks are slowly so it’s tougher to detect them. There’s also a lower chance they’re wrinkle compared to saline implants.

The body can’t absorb the gel. This requires the implant/gel to be removed immediately if it starts leaking.

Breast Implant Problems: Symptoms

It’s important to know the possible signs that your breast implant has been damaged or is leaking. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Bruising
  • Breast discomfort
  • Change in breast size/shape/feeling
  • Unbalanced breasts
  • Nipple discharge
  • Breast tissue/skin thinning
  • Slow healing
  • Bleeding
  • Skin issues
  • Calcium deposits
  • Implant deflating/breaking
  • The buildup of scar tissue
  • Blood clots

These are a lot of symptoms that could show something is wrong with your breast implants. Make sure to watch for multiple ones. If you observe one symptom many health conditions could be causing it. However, if you experience several of the above-mentioned symptoms there’s a greater chance your implants are damaged/leaking.

The seriousness of the problem can also vary. For example, one thing to watch out for is silicone leaking throughout the entire body. This could result in more serious issues like inflammation. If you experience major symptoms it’s important to contact your doctor ASAP.

A type of serious illness is known as Bia-ALCL. This is a type of cancer that involves the white blood cells of the immune system. What’s the problem? The American Cancer Society reports that these cancers are often fast-growing.

Imaging tests can be very effective for checking if your breast implants have problems like damaged shells or leaking saltwater/gel. Options like CT scans can also be effective in diagnosing people with BIA-ALCL.

The goal after having breast implants inserted should be to monitor if there are any structural problems related to the implants. These units usually last for up to 10 years or more. So, if you’ve had implants for several years it’s normal to start experiencing different issues.

That said, it’s also critical to get such issues checked out immediately. This is especially important in terms of strong chemicals getting into your bloodstream and spreading to different body parts.

In general, saline solution implants are safer in a sense since the body absorbs any saltwater that leaks.

Breast Implant Problems: Risks

Silicone gel implants were unveiled 55+ years ago in 1962. Their popularity spiked in the 1980s but several health risks were also reported. For example, it was reported that the implants were linked to various serious diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received the safety of silicone breast implants for several years. They were only allowed for breast cancer patients until 2006.

So, there are question marks about whether silicone gel units are safer than saline implants. The truth is that both types have pros and cons. Here are some of the main issues:


In terms of how the implants look/feel, patients and surgeons generally prefer silicone implants. That’s because they’re closer to breast tissue. On the other hand, saline implants cause a higher risk of wrinkly skin.


The method is somewhat different for the two main options. Saline implants are filled up after the breast augmentation surgery. They also can get adjustments afterward in many cases.

For example, let’s say a woman wants to boost/drop her breast’s size following saline implants. The doctor can do this easily in a basic procedure requiring a syringe. This differs from standard implants with silicone gel. They can’t be tweaked.


This super-strong substance is contained in silicone gel implants but not saline implants. This issue is a mixed bag. The FDA reports that studies show platinum causes no risk when used in breast implants.


It’s easier to detect when saline implants have ruptures/breaks. The breast changes shape quickly as fluid leaks. Another major difference is it’s just saltwater, which the body absorbs.

There’s a difference with silicone gel. The body doesn’t absorb the gel.

There are other issues. The leak is also slower so it’s tougher to notice. Another drawback is leaking gel results in a higher risk of disease, which is one of the breast implant problems.

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