How Strong are Breast Implants?

Samantha Johnson

by Samantha Johnson | August 29, 2012 @ 02:00PM

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Mostly due to the PIP implant scare, many women worry about the durability of their breast implants.  Will a mammogram cause them to rupture?  What situations will do some real damage? 

Car accident

Thirty-two year old Sheyla Hershey held the Guiness World Record for the world's largest breast implants with a bra size of 38KKK.  After driving home from a Super Bowl party in Houston, Texas, she crashed into a tree, and her airbags did not deploy.  "I think my breasts saved my life," she told Barcroft Media. "The accident was bad, and my boobs are sore, but they protected the rest of me."  Hershey used to have 38MMM breasts, but had to have them removed because of a serious infection.  She then received 2,500 cc of saline implanted into her breasts and then gradually increased the injections over a two-month period until she reached 4,300 cc to get to her size of 38KKK.  There are no reports on whether or not she had to get them replaced after the accident, but it seems as though her and her implants were left unharmed by the crash.  Read more.                                               

Gun shot

Back in 2009, Lydia Carranza was working in a dentist’s office in Beverly Hills. It was an average day at the office, until a co-worker’s ex-husband charged in with a shotgun and fired at everyone in sight, killing his intended target, Mariela Paredes (his ex-wife) and wounding everyone else.

Lydia was shot once in the arm, and again in the chest. Still alive, she wanted to beg and plead that he let her live, but fearing the worst, Lydia remained quiet. An hour later, with Lydia still hanging on to life, the crazed ex-husband surrendered to police.

The shotgun blast would have killed Lydia had it not been for her breast implant, according to her doctor, Ashkan Ghavami, who believes the implant stopped the bullet from entering her heart. Lydia’s implant turned her chest in to a bullet-proof vest. Read more

In flight or at high altitudes

According to Dr. Joseph Mele, saline and silicone expand and contract with changes in pressure at essentially the same rate as the human body does.  Even under the extreme conditions of sudden cabin decompression, breast implants will not explode.  Myth Busters put this to the test when they put an implant in a hyperbaric tank, and the implant showed minimal expansion, even at 35,000 feet.  However, the same cannot be said for air-filled organs like the inner ear, lungs, and GI tract.  Fill your breast implants with air, and you'll have a real problem. Read more at   

Run over by a car 

Dr. Sanjay Grover put a saline and a silicone implant to the test when he ran over them with his BMW.  The saline implant exploded, and the silicone did not. Watch the video.


Like we learned in What Happens to Breast Implants When You Die, fire will cause implants to explode.  If a deceased person has breast implants, they must be removed before the person is cremated, or they will make quite a mess in the crematorium.  This is probably only true for saline implants, as silicone is generally heat-resistant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Silicone implants will not warm and cool at quite the same rate as the rest of your body because the gel retains the heat and cold longer than natural body tissue.  According to Dr. Daniel Turkeltaub, "The difference between body temperature and implant temperature will be greater in those with thinner skin and minimal fat and breast tissue."  However, having implants inside your body puts them generally near your body temperature.  The implants cannot freeze inside your body unless the rest of your body becomes frozen as well.  Interestingly, we put a saline implant in the freezer, and it wouldn't freeze.  


Most breast implants are built to withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure. The average mammogram generates less than 4 pounds of pressure, so the incidence of the implant 'popping' because of a mammogram would be highly unlikely.

So what?

Now, we're not suggesting you go out and get breast implants in order to protect yourself from bullets, knives and fire, but it's good to know that the huggable, squeezable implants you choose to put into your body are a lot tougher than you think.  Breast implants have come a long way, and the FDA has taken extra precautions in ensuring that they are safe devices.  New innovations are also in the mix, and the future of breast augmentation looks brighter than ever before.  If you're thinking of getting breast implants,  find a doctor near you and book a consultation to get more information. Good luck!  

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