Is Breast Implant Rippling Dangerous? How to Identify and Address It

Posted on: June 1, 2024

Understanding Implant Rippling


Implant rippling is a common side effect in breast enlargement procedures. It occurs when the surface of the implant creates visible or palpable waves on the skin. This happens due to the nature of fluid dynamics in soft containers like implants.


All breast implants can exhibit rippling. The phenomenon is more common with saline implants compared to silicone ones. Saline implants have a higher chance of showing folds or wrinkles because they are filled with a saltwater solution.


Rippling is often felt rather than seen. It usually occurs around the implant’s perimeter, especially near the edges where there is less tissue coverage. A person may notice it when touching their breast or during certain movements.

Risk Factors

Several factors increase the risk of implant rippling:

  • Low body fat: Less natural tissue to cover the implant.
  • Large implants: Higher likelihood of folds.
  • Subglandular placement: Implants placed above the muscle show more ripples.

Prevention Methods

To minimize rippling, surgeons use various techniques:

  1. Choosing silicone over saline: Silicone gel reduces visible ripples.
  2. Submuscular placement: Placing implants under the chest muscle adds an extra layer of coverage.
  3. Textured implants: These reduce movement and potential for folding.

Emotional Impact

e women feel self-conscious about rippling. They may worry about others noticing it through their clothing or by touch. This concern can affect their confidence and emotional well-being.

Causes Behind Rippling

Insufficient Tissue

Insufficient breast tissue can cause rippling. Patients with little natural breast tissue who choose large implants are at higher risk. The lack of tissue creates less coverage for the implant. This makes the edges and folds of the implant more visible.

Women with thin skin also face this problem. They have less padding to hide the implant’s texture. This can make the rippling effect more noticeable.

Saline vs. Silicone

Saline implants show more rippling than silicone ones. Saline implants are filled with a saltwater solution. This solution can move around more easily inside the implant shell, creating folds.

Silicone implants contain a cohesive gel. This gel is thicker and holds its shape better than saline solution. Silicone implants are less likely to ripple because they maintain their smooth surface.

Studies have shown that saline implants have a higher rate of visible rippling compared to silicone implants. Many patients prefer silicone for this reason.

Implant Placement

Implant placement affects rippling visibility. Subglandular placement means placing the implant above the chest muscle but below the breast gland. This method often shows more rippling because there is less tissue covering the implant.

Submuscular placement involves putting the implant under both the chest muscle and breast gland. This provides an extra layer of coverage, reducing visible ripples.

Plastic surgeons often recommend submuscular placement for patients with thin skin or little breast tissue. It helps create a smoother look by hiding potential folds in the implant.

Implant Shape

The shape of an implant also influences rippling visibility. Round implants tend to ripple less than teardrop-shaped ones. Round implants have uniform thickness throughout, which helps them maintain a consistent shape.

Teardrop-shaped implants are designed to mimic natural breast contours but have varying thicknesses across their structure. These variations can lead to uneven pressure within different parts of the implant, causing more noticeable folds and wrinkles on its surface.

Identifying Rippling and Its Dangers


To identify rippling, begin with touch. Gently feel the implant area. Notice any uneven surfaces or ridges. These might indicate rippling.

Visual inspection also helps. Stand in front of a mirror. Look for visible waves or wrinkles on the skin over the implant. Photo courtesy from medical sources can provide examples to compare.

Aesthetic Concerns

Rippling is usually not dangerous. However, it can cause aesthetic concerns for some patients. The uneven texture may be noticeable in certain positions or clothing.

This can lead to self-consciousness or dissatisfaction with appearance. Some patients might feel discomfort due to the irregularities.

Potential Complications

It’s important to distinguish between normal rippling and complications requiring medical attention. Normal rippling is often just an aesthetic issue.

However, if there are signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pain, seek medical help immediately. Other symptoms like fever or unusual discharge also need attention.

Implant Types and Their Risks

Saline Implants

Saline implants use a silicone shell filled with sterile salt water. These implants are more prone to rippling. The liquid inside can move, causing waves on the surface of the implant. This makes rippling more noticeable, especially in patients with thin breast tissue.

Patients often report less satisfaction with saline implants. The texture can feel less natural compared to other types. Some people describe them as feeling like water balloons.

Silicone Implants

Silicone implants contain a silicone gel that is thicker than saline solution. This type of implant tends to ripple less because the gel holds its shape better. Silicone implants also feel more like natural breast tissue, which improves overall patient satisfaction.

However, these implants have their own risks. If a silicone implant ruptures, it can be harder to detect. Regular MRI scans are recommended to check for leaks.

Impact on Appearance

The choice of implant material greatly impacts the look and feel of the breasts after surgery. Saline implants might make rippling more visible under the skin, especially in areas with less tissue coverage.

Silicone implants generally provide a smoother appearance. They are often preferred for their more natural look and feel. Patients usually find that silicone implants mimic real breast tissue better than saline ones do.

Newer Technologies

Newer implant technologies aim to reduce rippling effects. Textured silicone implants have a rough surface designed to stick better to surrounding tissue. This helps prevent movement and reduces rippling.

Another innovation is cohesive gel or “gummy bear” implants. These have a thicker gel that holds its shape well, minimizing ripples and providing a firmer feel.

Placement Impact on Rippling

Submuscular Placement

Placing implants under the muscle can reduce rippling visibility. Submuscular placement means the implant is positioned beneath the chest muscles. This location provides an extra layer of tissue over the implant. The muscle and tissue help hide any ripples that may occur.

The muscle acts as a buffer. It smooths out the surface of the implant. This makes it less likely for ripples to show through the skin.

Subglandular Placement

In subglandular placement, implants are placed over the chest muscle but under the breast tissue. This method can increase rippling visibility. There is less natural tissue covering the implant.

Without enough tissue, any imperfections in the implant surface become more noticeable. Women with thin skin or little breast tissue are more prone to this issue.

Anatomical Benefits

Submuscular placement offers several anatomical benefits. The muscle provides a thicker coverage over the implant compared to subglandular placement. This thicker coverage helps create a more natural look.

The incidence of rippling is lower with submuscular placement due to this added coverage. The muscle also supports the implant better, reducing movement and potential distortion.

Body Type Considerations

Choosing between submuscular and subglandular placements depends on body type and existing breast tissue. Women with more natural breast tissue might opt for subglandular placement since they have enough coverage to mask ripples.

For women with less breast tissue, submuscular placement is often recommended. The additional muscle layer compensates for the lack of natural padding.

Detecting Lumps Near Implants


Regular self-examinations are crucial. Check your breast tissue for any unusual lumps or changes around the implant area. Use a mirror to visually inspect your breasts. Look for any differences in size, shape, or texture.

Feel your breasts with your fingers. Move in circular motions from the outer part towards the nipple. If you detect any lumps, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

Post-Surgical Changes

Normal post-surgical changes can include swelling and bruising. These usually subside within weeks after surgery. Some rippling might occur due to the placement of implants under thin breast tissue.

However, be aware of signs that may indicate complications:

  • Persistent pain
  • Hardening of the tissue
  • Unusual lumps

These symptoms could suggest issues like capsular contracture or infection.

Monitoring Texture and Shape

Monitor changes in breast texture and shape as part of post-operative care. Rippling often appears as waves on the surface of the skin. This is more common when implants are placed above the muscle.

Check for squamous cell carcinoma signs, although rare, it is possible around implants after several years. Early detection is key to effective treatment.

When to Seek Medical Help

Symptoms to Watch

Patients should pay close attention to any changes. This includes lumps or unusual sensations near the implant. Pain or discomfort can be a sign of complications. If the skin feels different, it might indicate rippling.

Professional Evaluation

Seeing a doctor is crucial if there are concerns. The doctor will perform an evaluation. Imaging tests like ultrasounds or MRIs may be used. These tests help in assessing the implant’s condition.

Open Communication

Communicating with a health care provider is essential. Share all post-surgery concerns openly. Timely intervention can prevent further issues. Many patients find that early action leads to better outcomes.

Reasons for Concern

There are specific reasons to seek medical help:

  • Persistent pain
  • Visible rippling on the outside
  • Changes in how the implant feels to touch

Each case is unique, but these signs warrant professional advice.

Managing Weight Post-Surgery

Weight Changes

Significant weight loss or gain can affect the appearance of implants. When you lose a lot of fat, implants may become more noticeable and rippling might increase. This happens because there is less soft tissue coverage to hide the implants. On the other hand, gaining weight can stretch the skin and alter how implants look.

Stable Weight

Maintaining a stable weight helps preserve the aesthetic results of breast enlargement surgery. Frequent changes in weight can lead to complications such as increased rippling or unevenness. Plastic surgeons often advise patients to keep their weight consistent after surgery. This consistency ensures that the implants stay in place and look natural.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Adopting healthy lifestyle choices supports overall well-being. Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients helps maintain a stable weight. Regular exercise keeps muscles toned and supports good posture, which can enhance surgical outcomes.

e tips include:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, or tofu.
  • Avoid processed foods high in sugar and fat.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Exercise regularly with activities like walking, swimming, or yoga.

Soft Tissue Coverage

t tissue coverage plays a crucial role in how implants look post-surgery. Thicker soft tissue can better conceal implants and reduce rippling. If you have thinner soft tissue, your surgeon may suggest adding fat transfer during your procedure to improve coverage.

Scar Tissue Management

Scar tissue forms around implants as part of the healing process. Excessive scar tissue can cause hardening or distortion of the implant shape, known as capsular contracture. Keeping scar tissue manageable is vital for maintaining good results.

Final Remarks

Implant rippling isn’t just about looks; it can signal serious issues. Knowing the causes and recognizing symptoms is crucial. Different implant types and placements have varying risks, so choose wisely. If you detect lumps or experience discomfort, seek medical advice immediately.

Stay proactive with your health post-surgery. Monitor any changes and manage your weight to minimize complications. Don’t wait—consult a specialist if something feels off. Your peace of mind and well-being are worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is implant rippling dangerous?

Rippling itself is not usually dangerous but can cause discomfort. In some cases, it may indicate issues like implant displacement or capsular contracture.

What causes implant rippling?

Implant rippling is often caused by thin skin, insufficient tissue coverage, or saline implants. Implant placement and overfilling can also contribute.

How can I identify implant rippling?

You may notice visible folds or wrinkles on the breast surface. These are more noticeable when bending forward or pressing on the area.

Are certain implants more prone to rippling?

Yes, saline implants are more likely to ripple than silicone ones. Textured implants can also show more ripples compared to smooth ones.

Does implant placement affect the risk of rippling?

Absolutely. Implants placed above the muscle (subglandular) are more likely to ripple than those placed below the muscle (submuscular).

When should I seek medical help for implant rippling?

Seek medical advice if you experience pain, significant changes in breast shape, or detect lumps near your implants. Early intervention is key.

Can weight changes after surgery impact implant rippling?

Yes, significant weight loss can increase the visibility of rippling due to reduced tissue coverage. Maintaining a stable weight helps minimize this risk.