Silicone breast implants are not intended to last a lifetime and occasionally these devices fatigue and rupture. When this happens, the silicone is usually contained within the fibrous capsule that surrounds the implant.
Although removal of ruptured silicone breast implants is not an emergency, most surgeons agree that ruptured implants should be removed as soon as possible. When ruptured silicone implants are left in place for prolonged periods of time, the silicone can actually leak into the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. This can result in an inflammatory process known as a silicone granuloma. Although this problem is not life threatening, it can make subsequent reconstruction more difficult.
When ruptured implants are removed, it may be necessary to remove the breast capsule as well. In most cases, new breast implants can be placed during this operative procedure.