Whether or not silicone breast implants pose a health safety risk to women has been the subject of debate for years. In addition, it may be very difficult to tell if you've even had a rupture. This is called a "silent rupture," although some women do have symptoms. Fortunately, there is no scientific proof that silicone implants, when ruptured, cause any serious health risks.
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Signs of Rupture
Unfortunately, most women do not notice if their silicone breast implant has ruptured. This is because silicone leaks slowly. For this reason, many plastic surgeons recommend having an MRI done every 3 years after you get silicone implants. Some women do have symptoms, however. These can include a change in the shape or size of your breast, lumps in the breast, hardening, pain, swelling, or other unusual sensations. If you suspect you have a rupture, do not get a mammogram, since the compression of the breast could cause more of the silicone to leak out.
Causes of Rupture
Most often, the cause of the rupture remains unknown. Implants last an average of 10 years, so sometimes they rupture due to age. Other times, there is damage done to the implant during the implantation process. Sometimes trauma to the chest causes them to rupture, or they might rupture during a mammography, when the breast is compacted. To treat a rupture, the implant is surgically removed and replaced.
The body reacts to the implant by forming a scar tissue shell around it. Usually, the scar tissue remains soft. If there is a rupture, the silicone may stay inside the scar tissue shell, preventing it from leaking into the body. When that happens, more scar tissue will form around the leaking silicone. This new scar tissue will probably become hard and painful, distorting the shape of your breast.
If the silicone is not trapped by the scar tissue shell, it may leak into the surrounding area and travel to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes. It cannot be removed from these areas, and the long-term health effects are not known. For this reason, if a rupture occurs, the implants should be removed as soon as possible.
Although there is no scientific evidence that silicone from ruptured breast implants is the cause of any major health problems, studies by the FDA show that women who have suffered from leaking silicone implants are more likely to be diagnosed with painful diseases such as fibromyalgia.
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