Rupturing and leaking in breast implants is very rare, but it can occasionally happen. There are various reasons as to why this might occur. Leakage can occur in both saline and silicone implants. Breast augmentations last on average from 10 to 15 years, and leaking can be a sign of implants that have exceeded their lifespans. Accidents (falls, blunt force trauma) and surgical procedures can also cause this type of leaking. An opening as small as a pinhole can cause it. A crease forming in implant material can lead to rupturing. Issues with valves in saline implants can also cause leaking. And sometimes the aggressive growth of new breast tissue can lead to rupturing. One popular “urban legend” that doesn’t cause implant rupturing is squeezing the implants. This still shouldn’t be done however, to avoid injury to breast tissue.
How Can You Tell That A Breast Implant Is Leaking?
Ruptures in both saline and silicone implants can be difficult for their wearers to detect. As time passes, a saline implant leak can cause a noticeable reduction in breast size. In silicone implants, wearers might begin to experience pain laying in certain positions or notice that the implants feel hard or “lumpy”. If an implant wearer notices differences in appearance or feeling with older implants, than a consultation with a plastic surgeon is warranted.
Leaking Implant Safety Concerns
Currently, there is no evidence that indicates a safety issue for an implant wearer who develops a rupture. Leaking saline does no harm to bodies. And while silicone implants do contain both silicone and platinum, studies so far have shown no ill effects caused by these materials leaking into the body. But these reports are based on observations of women who are not nursing infants. Is there a reason for concern if a nursing mother experiences an implant rupture?
Can Leaking Breast Implants Harm Breast Milk?
Research has shown that most women who wish to nurse after receiving implants experience some challenges in doing so. Breast milk production can be affected by surgery incisions and the placement of the implants themselves. Scar tissue can have an impact on the ability to produce milk, and so can nerve compression as a result of surgery. And the enhanced breasts themselves may cause some issues with new mothers and nursing infants. Nursing mothers may find newly augmented breasts very sensitive, making it painful to nurse an infant. And both mothers and infants may find it more challenging to find a comfortable nursing position with altered breasts.
But what about the breast milk itself? Can it be contaminated by materials leaking from implants? As in adults, saline leaking from implants is simply absorbed into the body with no ill effect. In the case of silicone implants, studies done here indicate that neither silicone or platinum is absorbed from the mother’s breast milk into the infant’s GI tract. In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a paper that stated that silicone breast implants should not serve as a deterrent to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding And Breast Implants
It is now possible to have breast augmentations performed that are far more accommodating to wearers who want to nurse infants in future. Start by letting your surgeon know that you would like to nurse with augmented breasts. He or she can assist with this in how the surgery is performed. This includes placing surgical incisions in specific locations (including the belly button!) such as the armpit or breast fold and changing the location of implants. Implants placed more deeply under muscle tissue seem to have less impact on milk ducts and glandular tissue, for example. After surgery, new mothers should plan on working with both a lactation specialist and a nutritionist. A lactation specialist can work with new mothers on milk production and nursing positions. And a nutritionist can help determine if an infant is receiving sufficient amounts of milk from augmented breasts, sometimes an issue.
In additions to concerns about implants harming a nursing baby, some women worry that nursing infants can harm implants. It’s almost impossible for nursing babies to damage implants. But nursing mothers should be aware that milk producing breasts are very different from those that are not. Nursing (and pregnancy) can temporarily affect both the feel and appearance of augmented breasts. Mothers with more recently augmented breasts should continue to examine them for issues like haematomas and extrusions that occur outside of nursing.
Dr. Douglas S. Steinbrech is a skilled and accomplished board-certified plastic surgeon, and one of New York’s leading cosmetic surgeons. Dr. Steinbrech received training in general surgery, as well as plastic and reconstructive surgery, for eight years at New York University. He also received training at the Manhattan Ear, Eye, and Throat Hospital. He was chosen as one of America’s top plastic surgeons by the Consumers Research Council of America. He is a master at creating natural looking breasts, and working with patients to achieve desired results.