Longitudinal studies have suggested that the breast implant rupture rate at 10 years post-implantation (involving primary breast augmentation) was 10 percent, or 1 percent per year.
Dr. Tarick Smiley, a celebrity Los Angeles plastic surgery expert, has recently posted some mammogram photos on his Snapchat depicting a completely deflated saline implant, which he said could be verified through physical exam and mammogram.
Dr. Smiley said that saline implants often deflate completely after 3-4 days of leak, causing the affected breast to look smaller than the other side. Meanwhile, it does not cause serious complications because the filler material, which is a sterile saltwater solution, is naturally found in the body.
Nonetheless, immediate removal of the deflated implant is strongly advised by experts to prevent “irritation” or damage to the scar capsule or implant pocket.
The term deflation does not apply to silicone implants, which are filled with medical-grade silicone gel. Dr. Smiley said that the latest silicone implants, also referred to as gummy bear implants, are semi-solid and so their shell does not leak out any liquid.
And with a semi-solid filler material, in the event of rupture the new silicone implants’ gel remains in the shell or inside the scar capsule, which naturally forms around any synthetic device.
As with any manmade device, Dr. Smiley said there is no guaranty that the breast implants can last a lifetime due to the natural wear and tear. Nonetheless, there are many ways to prolong their lifespan and at least postpone a revision surgery.
Preventing capsular contracture in which the body produces copious scar tissue around the implant—causing breast deformity, pain, and increased risk of rupture—is one sure way to prolong the implant’s lifespan. Studies have suggested that this complication is closely tied to implant contamination during surgery and low-grade infection during recovery. Hence, Dr. Smiley has emphasized the use of strong antibacterial solution to irrigate both implants and the breast pocket during surgery.
Too much handling during surgery has also been tied to increased risk of breast implant rupture. One way to minimize this is to use Keller Funnel technique in which the [silicone] implant is propelled into the pocket in one squeeze using a cone-shaped device.
Dr. Smiley said that Keller Funnel allows him to propel implants into their pocket in which the force is equally distributed around the shell, unlike the finger-push method wherein a small portion of the shell would receive most of the “pressure” during implantation.