My saline breast implant deflated. What should I do?

Q. My saline breast implant deflated. What should I do?

A. We’re not doctors and we don’t provide medical advice, but I can tell you what we know based on research and from speaking with many experts and with women who have had breast implants.

Once a saline breast implant has deflated, it can not be refilled. If yor implants have not caused any health problems before they deflate, ruptured saline implants are relatively safe if there is no mold, bacteria, or fungus. If any of these are present, you will probably notice symptoms of infection or allergic-type symptoms.

If your implants are more than a few years old, it makes sense to remove both implants at the same time, even if only one of them has ruptured. The cost of implant removal, with or without replacement, is very similar whether it involves one implant or two. As implants get older it becomes more and more likely that they will rupture. Rather than have two surgeries, it makes sense to remove (and if you want to replace) both implants together.

Many plastic surgeons are reluctant to remove an implant without replacing it because they are concerned that the patient will be very unhappy with their appearance after the implant is removed. The breast tissue stretches from the implant, and if the surgeon is not skilled in explantation without replacement, the breast is unlikely to be as attractive as it was before the implant surgery. However, after implants are removed by an experienced explant surgeon, many women are very pleased with the way their breasts look and feel. You can read some of their stories on the www.explantation.com website.

Whether or not you decide to replace your implants, you need a plastic surgeon that you are confident will do a great job. Removal can be much more complicated and expensive than the original surgery. Some plastic surgeons are very experienced at removal and are especially skilled at getting the best possible cosmetic result. The surgeon you choose should be board certified and should be willing to show you pictures of many patients’ post-explantation results, or better still, offer to have former patients talk to you. Find out if they were happy with their doctor and with their results.

The comments and statements of the National Research Center for Women & Families are believed and intended to be accurate, and where applicable, based on scientific literature. NRC’s statements do not constitute medical diagnoses, medical advice, plans of treatment, or legal opinion, and we are not responsible for the use or application of this information. All medical information should be reviewed with your health care practitioner.

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