When we visit a plastic surgeon to receive breast augmentation surgery, we trust that the products and the procedure are up to professional standards. However, this is not always the case – and we can suffer from severe pain and develop dangerous diseases, such as cancer.
One such risk is the rupturing of a breast implant. While a ruptured implant may cause significant pain and discomfort, a rupture itself is not likely to cause cancer.
What Happens When a Breast Implant Ruptures?
Breast implants may rupture after surgery inside of your body, leading to pain and changes in the appearance of your breast. You may experience swollen, irritated tissue and additional symptoms, such as lumps or hardening of the breast.
Silent ruptures do not result in symptoms, and you may not notice that you have a rupture at all. This is because the silicone inside the implant tends to stay in the surrounding tissue, which traps it from causing pain to other areas in your breast. Your plastic surgeon can provide guidance on whether you should remove the implant.
The good news is that while a ruptured breast implant may cause irritation and swelling, the issue is not likely to cause breast cancer. In addition, it isn’t likely that you will develop a reproductive issue or a connective tissue disease after suffering a breast implant rupture.
What to Do After an Implant Rupture
If you believe you may have a ruptured breast implant, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Typically, your surgeon will recommend you receive a MRI scan for any issues with your implant every 2 years. Aside from these screenings, you can visit your surgeon for an MRI or ultrasound to diagnose this condition.
After you receive confirmation of the rupture, your surgeon will determine the best course of treatment. In most cases, your surgeon will surgically remove both of your implants – even if only one of them has a rupture. If you want new implants, your surgeon can replace them during this surgery. You may receive a different type of implant to reduce rupture risk.
Another course of treatment your surgeon might prescribe instead of removal surgery is reconstruction. This procedure involves taking a flap of tissue from another area on your body to stop the risk of another rupture and to restore the appearance of your breast. However, this surgery is usually more invasive and leads to a longer recovery.
Breast Cancer Risk and Breast Implants
While a ruptured breast implant may not put you at risk for breast cancer, certain types of implants could lead to the development of lymphoma. BIA-ALCL, linked to textured breast implants manufactured by Allergan, is a rare but treatable form of breast cancer that many women have developed after augmentation surgery.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL typically do not appear until eight to 14 years after the initial surgery, including the following.
- Enlargement of one or both breasts
- Breast pain and asymmetry
- A rash over the skin of the breast
- Hardening breasts
- Large fluid collection and lumps in the breast or armpit
If you believe you could be at risk for BIA-ALCL or you notice any of these symptoms in the years following your surgery, visit your doctor as soon as possible. If you do have BIA-ALCL, your doctor can prescribe the best courses of treatment for you, including removal surgery and chemotherapy.
While ruptured breast implants may cause pain and other damage to the breast, experts do not believe that they lead to cancer. You may have to undergo reconstructive or removal surgery to fix the damage to your breast, along with implant replacement.
If you are a woman who received a textured breast implant, you may be at risk for a certain type of cancer. Visit your doctor as soon as possible to review your symptoms and evaluate your risk. If you receive a diagnosis, contact a defective breast implant attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.