Review Article

Silicone breast implant rupture: a review

Christopher Hillard, Jason D. Fowler, Ruth Barta, Bruce Cunningham


Silicone breast implants have been in use for nearly 6 decades. In this time they have undergone significant changes in design and use. They have been subject to intense scrutiny with regard to safety and efficacy, including an almost 10 years moratorium on their use. The current generations of implants have been followed via the manufacturer’s Core studies in order to obtain long term data regarding safety and complications. The results of the more recent studies are compiled in this review. Rupture rates are initially very low and begin to increase after 6–8 years of implantation. Implant rupture may be detected by physical exam, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The majority of silicone implant ruptures are clinically undetectable. Symptomatic patients may present with capsular contracture, breast lumps or changes in breast shape. The most common cause of implant rupture is instrument damage during placement. Implant rupture may be confined to the peri-prosthetic capsule or may extravasate into the breast tissue. Patients with ruptured implants have been studied closely and the consensus of the literature states there are no health risks associated with implant rupture. Symptomatic patients with ruptured implants should be offered the choice of observation, or explantation and capsulectomy with or without replacement.

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