Gel bleed in breast implants

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 27 Sep 2021

Gel bleed is a phenomenon associated with silicone breast implants.


Gel bleed refers to microscopic diffusion of silicone gel through the breast implant elastomer shell. The implant shell, made of silicone, is a semipermeable membrane that allows for the egress or bleed of silicone naturally.

This bleed may be low or high grade, depending on the amount of cross linking of the silicone elastomer shell.

Radiographic features

Gel bleed is not imaged on mammograms or ultrasound.  On magnetic resonance images, gel bleed is characterized by the filling of wrinkles ("key-hole”) present in otherwise intact implants. This is in contrast with the extravasation of silicone resulting from a disruption of the implant shell.

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Cases and figures

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