Whether you have breast implants from breast augmentation or breast cancer reconstruction surgery, it is possible that your implants may rupture. Dr. John Kim of Northwestern Plastic Surgery in downtown Chicago has extensive experience performing secondary breast surgery, also known as revision breast surgery, during which he can remove your compromised implant and replace it with a new one. Your implant may break or burst due to physical trauma such as a fall, a surgical error, or even the pressure exerted on the breast during a mammogram, among other causes. Both saline and silicone breast implants are susceptible to rupture, but there are different implications for the two types. A saline implant rupture is relatively easy to spot because as the saltwater leaks out, the breast changes shape rapidly and noticeably. The saline solution is readily and harmlessly absorbed by the body.
Dr. Kim as well as the FDA recommends removing your implant (whether silicone or saline) if it has ruptured. You and Dr. Kim will then need to decide if you should have the implant replaced or removed without replacement. A recent study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal reported a 5.7% rate of implant rupture in 941 patients who were undergoing breast augmentation or breast reconstruction, and a study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal found that risk for rupture increases over time. Once it has been determined that your implant has ruptured, you should meet with your doctor right away to discuss your possibilities moving forward.
If you have had breast implants placed for either breast augmentation or post-mastectomy breast cancer reconstruction, it is likely that your implants were produced by one of the following companies: Mentor, Allergan, or Sientra. Dr. Kim utilizes all three companies’ implants in his breast augmentation and breast reconstruction surgeries. If you have Mentor implants, this corporation has a series of product replacement and warranty programs set up. In the event of a qualifying deflation of a saline implant or rupture of a silicone implant, Mentor will replace the product free of charge for the lifetime of the patient. Additionally, if a qualifying implant replacement surgery occurs within ten years of the original implantation, Mentor will pay out of pocket costs for anesthesia, operating room, and surgical expenses up to $1,200. You can find all details of these policies on the Mentor website via this link:
If you have Allergan breast implants, they too have quality assurance policies in place, including a warranty program in which you are automatically enrolled if you received their implants after March 31, 2004. This warranty guarantees your implant against rupture that requires surgical intervention. In the event of a qualifying rupture that requires surgical intervention, Allergan’s warranty features lifetime product replacement as well as 10 years of financial assistance, meaning payment of out of pocket expenses for surgical, operating room, and anesthesia fees for the revision surgery (up to 700£). Further details of Allergan’s warranty plans can be found here:
If you received Sientra implants during your breast reconstruction or breast augmentation surgery, this company too has Limited Warranty and Product Replacement program in place for rupture occurrences. These policies are available to all patient implanted with Sientra silicone breast implants in the US after April 1, 2012. Under the Sientra Limited Warranty Program, they will reimburse patients up to $3,600 for out of pocket costs directly related to revision surgery performed within 10 years of the original date of implantation. They will also replace the compromised implants themselves at no charge to the patient or surgeon in qualifying events. The full description of Sientra’s warranty policies as they pertain to implant rupture can be found here:
Breast implant rupture is a relatively uncommon event in women who have had first time or revision breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery; however, it is a complication of these types of surgeries that is known to occur. Thus, the corporations that manufacture the implants have plans in place in the event of rupture necessitating removal and/or replacement. Be sure to discuss all the risks and benefits of surgery with your physician prior to the operation, and familiarize yourself with the warranty plans in place in the event you need to utilize them. Dr. Kim has extensive experience performing secondary or revision breast surgery, so if your implant has ruptured, set up a consultation with Dr. Kim at his offices in downtown Chicago to discuss your personalized options for revision.