Breast implants & contact sports: What you need to know

In our mission to protect your breasts while you play contact sports, we have discovered that many female athletes with breast implants have experienced ruptures due to hard knocks to the chest.  Like many breast injuries, ruptured breast implants go unreported due to the stigma around breasts in the sporting world.  Such stigma should not exist - the injuries that women experience to their breasts during training and competition is legitimate and it certainly does not make them weak.  Whether you already have breast implants or are thinking of getting them, it is understandable to worry about them rupturing when playing contact sports.  

While there is a risk that breast implants may rupture when you rumble around the sporting field or the fighting ring, the good news is there are ways to prevent this from happening so you can compete at your best.  Here is what you need to know about protecting your breast implants, what happens when they rupture, how you  know if they have, and why you should report it when it happens. 

First things first

If you have breast implants and you think there is even the slightest chance you have ruptured one during training or a game, report it to your coach and seek professional medical help. Your safety is the most important thing and reporting any suspected rupture will ensure that you get the right treatment so you can get back on your path to victory as quickly as possible.  Remember ‘being tough’ and ignoring such injuries are not conducive to achieving a successful, fulfilling sporting career. 

What happens when implants rupture

There are two types of implants: saline and silicone.  Each lives in a silicone shell.  When ruptures occur, the silicone shell of an implant breaks open, causing the contents of the implant to leak into the body.  As saline implants are filled with salt water, when it leaks out it is absorbed very quickly and is considered harmless.  While also considered harmless, silicone can travel to other parts of the body where it cannot be removed [1].

The most common causes for breast implant ruptures in athletes are trauma to the breasts, or compression or extreme pressure on the breasts.  This is why those who have them and play contact sports need to take extra care to protect their breasts. 

How to tell if your implants have ruptured 

Within the first few days of a saline implant rupturing, the deflation of a breast implant will be noticeable: it is like a water balloon popping.  

Silicone implants are filled with a gel material which makes it harder for ruptures to be noticed as they usually do not present immediate symptoms and you may not know until a routine mammogram picks it up.  Other times, those with ruptured silicone implants will experience changes in the size and shape of the breasts, hard lumps, or pain, tingling, or numbness of the breasts.  

Protection is not a weakness

Don’t let having breast implants hold you back from reaching your sporting goals!  If you have them, taking steps to prevent rupturing is important, and easy.  Here are our tips for taking action to protect your breast implants while playing contact sports and to participate in the fight against the stigma of breast injuries:

  • Report it - if you have had a knock to the chest and it hurts or you think your breast implant has ruptured, let the coach know and seek medical attention.  Remember having a breast injury and seeking help is not a weakness.
  • Wear chest protection - doctors recommend wearing breast padding as it is an easy way to minimize the risk of injury as it is an effective way to protect the body from the impact of sport [2].  
  • Speak with your coach - request they develop a team strategy for chest protection if one does not exist that will include educating your team on the risks of breast injury, how they can to protect themselves, and how to report any bang ups.  
As the old saying goes ‘prevention is the best cure’.  The Zena Z1 impact protection vest has been specifically designed for females who play contact sport to minimise the risk of injury to breasts.  The vest is extremely lightweight and not only protects from impact, it increases confidence.  Do the right thing for your breasts and get one today!

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