HOW DO I FIND OUT IF MY BREAST IMPLANTS ARE INTACT?
It should be said at the outset that a breast implant only becomes defective in very rare cases. Because we work with premium implants in our practice, which ensure the highest safety standards, defective breast implants rarely occur. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that even the highest quality products, which are subject to very strict quality controls, are never immune to technical defects. An implant is a foreign body that is inserted into the breast, and there is a possibility that it will become defective over a longer, but also shorter period of time. For this reason, we advise our patients of any age to have regular check-ups using MR mammography (MRI) or ultrasound as part of the classic breast cancer screening.
Important: Checking the implant as part of regular breast cancer screening.
As part of breast cancer screening, women are encouraged to palpate their breasts for lumps on a monthly basis. In addition, it is recommended to have a screening examination every two years1 using MR mammography or ultrasound. The ideal time for this in women who have a menstrual cycle is the tenth day after their period begins. This is the best day to evaluate the breast tissue. For women without a menstrual cycle, any day is equally good.
WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD FOR CHECKING IMPLANTS?
Whether our patients should choose MR mammography or ultrasound for routine breast cancer screening is, of course, up to you, and we do not wish to make a recommendation at this point. Regardless, leading scientists say that MR mammography has the highest sensitivity of all screening modalities2. High costs have long been an argument against this method. Therefore, to reduce costs, an abbreviated examination protocol was developed. It has the same sensitivity as full MR mammography, but is less time-consuming and can therefore be offered at a lower cost. Typically, health insurance will cover a portion of the cost, both for MRI and ultrasound.
DO I GENERALLY NOTICE THE TIME OF “BREAKING”?
As a rule, modern implants are not vulnerable, neither from the outside nor from the inside, and you can go about your daily life or pursue any hobbies without hesitation. However, if an implant should become defective, almost all of our patients have felt this as soon as the implant broke. They noticed that the breast felt different. Often the breast was described as softer. This is because an intact implant, when compressed, gives way relatively quickly and returns to its original shape. This is not the case with a defective implant. However, the exception proves the rule and there are also patients who do not remember the trauma. That is why we recommend the above-mentioned regular check-ups.
WHAT RISKS CAN ARISE IF I HAVE A DEFECTIVE IMPLANT IN MY BREAST?
As mentioned above, the implants we use meet the highest quality standards. They have a very stable shell and are filled with silicone gel, which is no longer liquid and therefore cannot leak. Nevertheless, an implant that is defective should be replaced, as there is a possibility that the silicone gel will be carried away via the lymph, which could lead to lymph node swelling.
WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR DECIDING WHETHER AN IMPLANT NEEDS TO BE REPLACED?
Whether an operation has to take place is always decided on the basis of an MR mammogram, although the clinical picture can also play a major role. The reason for this is that we have already had patients with positive ultrasound findings and it turned out during the operation that the implant was still intact after all. If there is a suspicion that the implant is broken on palpation, an ultrasound can be performed as a first step, as this is quick and inexpensive. If this is positive, however, an MRI is indispensable as a basis for deciding whether to replace the implant.
A defective implant being removed.
WHO BEARS THE COSTS IN CASE OF REPLACEMENT?
Recently, there have been implant manufacturers who offer warranty programs. These include free implants. If the patient has been pre-operated on at our clinic, the fee for the surgical procedure is waived. However, the costs of the operation (hospital stay, anesthesia, etc.) must be borne by the patient. A flat rate of approximately € 2,900 is charged.
Every operation involves a risk. This also means that an implant can become defective. We therefore recommend that you also have your implants checked as part of your regular breast cancer screening. If you receive a positive result, please contact us and we will discuss the next steps together.