Warning signs of a ruptured PIP implant 

PIP implants are two to six times more likely to rupture than other silicone implants.

They also leak tiny amounts of silicone through the shell, called gel bleeds, which can result in similar symptoms to a rupture.

How can you tell if an implant has ruptured?

Most women with a ruptured PIP implant will not notice anything different. This is known as a "silent" rupture.

Some women develop symptoms in and around their breast after implant rupture. The breast may change shape or feel harder or lumpy as the implant deflates and scar tissue forms. Also, the leaked silicone gel can act as an irritant, causing pain and inflammation and swollen glands in the armpit.

Is it dangerous if an implant ruptures?

The prospect of a ruptured implant is alarming, but all the research to date has shown no evidence that a ruptured PIP implant can cause cancer or other lasting health problems.

However, there clearly are unpleasant symptoms associated with implant rupture, including pain, swelling and redness of the breast. It can also be more difficult to remove an implant once it has ruptured.

Spotting signs of implant rupture

If you have any of the following signs of implant rupture discuss them with your GP, who will refer you to a specialist:

  • lumpiness or swelling in and around the breast  
  • change in shape of the breast
  • deflation of the breast
  • redness
  • tenderness of the breast
  • pain or sensitivity

What to do if you suspect an implant has ruptured

See your GP to arrange a hospital scan, either by ultrasound or MRI, to confirm whether an implant has ruptured.

Current advice from The Royal College of Radiologists is to start with an ultrasound examination. If this does not show any sign of a rupture but you are still anxious or experiencing symptoms, then you are entitled to an MRI scan, as this is a more sensitive method.

If the scan shows that an implant has ruptured, you should have the burst implant (and any intact implant in the other breast) removed as soon as possible.

Read about PIP implant removal and replacement.

If you are anxious

Many women affected by PIP implants have high levels of anxiety and/or depression.

If you are worrying about your PIP implants, it's important to tell your surgeon and your GP.

Anxiety is a health risk so the NHS will remove your implants with or without clinical signs of a rupture.

If you are experiencing problems sleeping or eating, or you have concerns about your psychological health and wellbeing (for example you think you may have body dysmorphia or depression), contact your GP.

Page last reviewed: 09/07/2014

Next review due: 09/07/2016