Breast Implants: What Happens When They Leak?

Sometimes a leaking breast implant results when the silicone shell gets damaged and saline leaks out. When this happens, a surgeon must remove the implant. Sometimes new implants are inserted during the same surgery.

Causes of Leaking Breast Implant

Today many women are deciding to get breast implants. In the USA 4% of women have had the procedure done. Studies show it can have positive results like increases in body image and self-esteem. For example, some women with breast cancer have implants after surgery to remove cancerous tumors. According to experts, breast implants last for up to 10 years.  Over time you might experience leaking breast implant. When this happens it’s important to know what causes it to happen, possible risks, and what options you have. This will help you make the right decisions about how to deal with the leaking implant.

It can be a tough decision about whether or not to get breast implants. Your doctor can help to guide you about whether or not it’s the right decision for you. Health experts explain that in some situations it’s not a wise choice for some women. However, if the unit starts leaking you should also know what options you have. For example, you might decide to just have the old implant removed or also swap in a new unit during the same operation. You have various options. The best decision is the one that will best suit you in the long-term.


What Exactly Are Breast Implants?

The surgery done to install breast implants is known as breast augmentation. The procedure’s goal is to boost the size or shape of the woman’s breasts. Fun Fact: In 1962 the first modern breast implants were inserted.

The process involves placing the implant under the patient’s breast tissue or chest muscles. The plants can last for up to 12 years based on different factors.

In 2015 there were over 279,100 surgeries for breast augmentation in the US alone. This figure was nearly one-third higher than in the year 2000.

There are different reasons why women choose to have breast implants:

  1. Make both breasts the same shape again
  2. Restore breast(s) following surgery
  3. Make small breasts larger
  4. Restore the size/shape of the breast after pregnancy/breastfeeding or weight loss

There are two main types of surgeries that are performed. The more common one is to improve the breast’s appearance (cosmetic). However, sometimes it’s done as part of breast cancer treatment (constructive).


There are Three Main Types of Implants

Silicone Gel

This type of implant includes an outer shell made of silicone and silicone gel on the inside. If the implant starts to leak then the gel remains within the shell or goes into the pocket of the breast implant.

When the implant leaks it might collapse. If you get this type of implant you should get it checked out more often than an implant with saline solution. Ultrasound or MRI is used to examine the implant’s condition.


The shells are filled with saltwater or a similar solution. Different amounts of solution are added to the shell in order to affect different features like the breast’s shape. If the implant starts to leak the body absorbs the solution naturally.

Alternative Composite

These implants can be filled with different materials. They include soy oil, string, or other material. This option isn’t as common as the other two.


Causes of Leaking Breast Implant

The type of leak an implant has is related to the type of implant you have. All implants contain an outer shell that’s made of silicone. This one can have a rip/hole that’s known as a “rupture.”

In the case of a saline implant, there’s also a valve. This piece can also have problems. Implants tend to last an average of 8 to 10 years. Meanwhile, the longer you’ve had the implant the greater you’ll experience a leaky unit.

There are various causes of a leaky implant including biopsy and auto accidents. However, a 2013 study showed that the main cause of silicone implants leaking was actually the surgery done to insert the implant.

When saline implants break or the value stops working this results in fast-leaking saline. It happens over a couple of days. It’s easy to notice that the implant is damaged. The body absorbs the saltwater.

Meanwhile, when a silicone implant breaks the gel leaks more slowly. The reason is it’s a thicker substance. One result is it takes more time to notice. Another issue is the body can’t absorb silicone gel.

It’s important to have the breast implant screened every few years to check if it’s broken. It’s easy to have a test run like an MRI to check if the unit is broken. If you have a saline/silicone gel implant that’s broken then you should get it removed soon.

If you’ve decided to have new implants inserted then the surgeon might do it while removing the old one. However, there are different factors. In some situations, the new implants might be inserted later. Another issue is whether or not to have the same implant inserted.

You can also have a special procedure that won’t risk the implant breaking in the future or other issues. However, this is a more complex surgery with more recovery time.


Breast Implant Benefits and Risks

Body image

Studies show that having breast implant surgery can boost a woman’s body image. This is related to something called “self-concept” and answers the question: Who am I? The issue of body image has been trending in recent years.

Body image is related to how women see their bodies’ attractiveness/sexuality. There’s no right or wrong way to see these issues. However, there’s no question breast augmentation can increase body image.

It’s important to be realistic about your surgery. Your doctor can help to explain what you should expect in terms of the surgery’s results. This will help you to be pleased with the results. If you have sky-high expectations then you’ll probably be unhappy about how your breasts look post-surgery.

Cost and Insurance

The average price of breast augmentation was $3,800 last year. It can sometimes be tough to get health insurance companies to cover the costs of the procedure.

However, you might decide to pay part or all of the cost is worth it. The reason is you can’t put a money figure on having higher body image and self-esteem.


Studies show that women’s self-esteem is increased by getting breast implants. That’s because it improves their appearance and makes them feel better about themselves.

In fact, various studies show that there are various psychological benefits that result from having implants. Not every patient is pleased about the results based on factors like expectations.

Healthy Lifestyle

It some cases getting implants doesn’t just improve a woman’s self-esteem. It can even improve her lifestyle because they make her want to do more self-improvement. This can include losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly.

This doesn’t mean that all patients will have the same results. In some situations, they might be happy with the results and have higher self-esteem about a decade before a possible leaking breast implant.

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