How do I find out if my breast implants are intact?

First of all, it should be said that a breast implant is only defective in very rare cases. Because we work with premium implants in our practice, which guarantee the highest safety standard, there are seldom defective breast implants. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that even the highest quality products, which are subject to very strict quality controls, are never immune to technical errors. 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 or shorter period of time. For this reason, we advise our patients of all ages to have regular check-ups by means of MR mammography (MRI) or ultrasound as part of the classic breast cancer screening.

Important: Control of the implant as part of regular breast cancer screening

As part of breast cancer screening, women are encouraged to feel their breasts for lumps on a monthly basis. It is also recommended that a preventive check-up using MR mammography or ultrasound be carried out every two years¹. For women who have a menstrual cycle, the ideal time to do this is the tenth day after the menstrual period has started. This is the best day to assess the mammary gland tissue. For women without a cycle, every day is equally suitable.

What is the best method to check the implants?

Whether our patients should opt for an MR mammography or an ultrasound for routine breast cancer screening is of course up to you and we do not want to make a recommendation at this point. Notwithstanding, leading scientists say that MRI mammography has the highest sensitivity of all examination modalities². High costs have long been an argument against this method. A shortened examination protocol was therefore developed to reduce costs. It has the same sensitivity as full MR mammography, but is less time-consuming and can therefore be offered more cheaply. The health insurance company usually pays part of the costs, both for an MRI and for an ultrasound.

Do I generally notice the point in time when the implant “brakes”?

As a rule, the modern implants are not vulnerable from the outside or the inside and you can lead your everyday life or pursue any hobbies without hesitation. However, should it happen that an implant becomes defective, almost all of our patients have felt this up to now as soon as the implant broke. They noticed that the chest felt different. The breast has often been described as being softer. This is because an intact implant that is compressed gives way relatively quickly and returns to its original shape. This is not the case with a defective implant. However, the exception confirms the rule and there are also patients who no longer remember the trauma. We therefore recommend the regular checks mentioned above.

What are the risks if I have a defective implant in my breast?

As mentioned earlier, the implants we use meet the highest quality standards. They have a very stable cover and are filled with silicone gel, which is no longer liquid and therefore cannot leak. Nonetheless, an implant that is defective should be replaced, as there is a possibility that the silicone gel could be carried away by the lymph and swelling of the lymph nodes could occur.

What is the basis for deciding whether an implant needs to be replaced?

Whether an operation needs to take place is always decided on the basis of an MR mammography, whereby the clinical picture can also play a major role. The reason for this is that we already had patients with a positive ultrasound result and it turned out during the operation that the implant was still intact. If a tactile finding suggests that the implant is broken, an ultrasound can be performed as a first step, as this can be done quickly and inexpensively. If this is positive, however, an MRI is indispensable as a decision-making basis for replacing an implant.

Implantat kaputt

A defective implant is removed.

Who bears the costs in the event of an exchange?

Recently there have been implant manufacturers offering guarantee programs. These include free implants. If the patient was previously operated on by us, the fee for the surgical intervention is waived. However, the costs for the operation (hospital stay, anesthesia, etc.) must be borne by the patient. A flat rate of approx. € 2,900 will be charged.

Conclusion

Every operation carries a risk. This also means that an implant can become defective. We therefore recommend having the implants checked as part of regular breast cancer screening. If you get a positive result, please contact us and we will discuss the next steps together.

1 www.frueh-erkennen.at

2 www.bader-mr.at/infos_mr_mammographie/