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Are Breast Implants Lifetime Devices?
Breast Augmentation

Are Breast Implants Lifetime Devices?

Written by
Juli Albright
Updated
Juli is our patient advocate and community connection. She balances work, life and family with grace.
Juli is our patient advocate and community connection. She balances work, life and family with grace.

Are Breast Implants Lifetime Devices?

Breast implants typically last 10-20 years. In some cases for women in their 30's or 40's when they first had breast implants they may last the rest of their lifetime.  This article helps explain the basics of breast implants so you can make the best decision for yourself.

How Long Can My Breast Implants Last?

This is the most common question patients ask. There is no specific answer to this question. It’s true, some people need to replace their implant before ten years, and others don’t have to even after ten years. Most likely if you undergo breast augmentation surgery with breast implants in your 20's, you will need to replace them or remove them in your lifetime.

Besides that, you also need to understand: there is no specific shelf life or expiration date for implants.

What Is The Average Period?

The average silicon or saline implants can last for around 10 to 20 years. Unfortunately, most patients chose to remove and / or replace them sooner due to cosmetic concerns or complications. Approximately 10-20% of individuals replace or remove their implants within 8 to 10 years either for cosmetic reasons or the implants ruptured.

Wondering how you can predict your time of removing or replacing implants? Also, what will be the indications that you need to remove the current ones? Continue reading to find out.

What Do Implants Fail?

Several reasons can cause your implants, whether reconstructive or cosmetic, to fail. Generally, it occurs because of the multiple normal strain or wear and direct trauma on the breast implants.

These things can cause your implants to rupture or leak. Whether your implant is filled with silicone or saline (saltwater solution), the implants' outer surface is made from firm silicone. It has a design and composition that can withstand extreme heat and pressure, but still, it can break or puncture.

How Would I Know My Implant Is Damaged?

Here are some signs that may indicate damage to your implants.

Hardening

Many patients struggle with the hardened scar tissue or capsular contracture around the implants. Because of this, you may feel pain, tenderness, tightness, and unusual cosmetic changes in your breast. Sometimes, hardening can take place a couple of times on the same breast.

Saline Rupture

Any hole or tear in the implant's shell can cause a rupture in your saline implant.In this case, it starts to shrink like a balloon. When the saline leaks out from the implant, it gets absorbed in your body. This leak can occur over time or all at once.

You will be able to observe the deflation of that breast as saline leaves the implant. Your affected breast will no longer maintain its shape and size and look completely different from your other breast. You also need to understand that this problem is rare in the early years of your surgery. But the risk of complications increase with time.

Silicone Rupture

Like saline, silicone implants can also rupture. However, silicone gel is a lot denser or thicker compared to saline. A Type of silicone implants are the gummy bear implants. If you can envision cutting a gummy bear in half this is a similar consistency to silicone implants.

When the silicone ruptures, the viscous silicone usually stays inside the implant or moves over time to the surrounding scar tissues.

This is why it's challenging to point out the silicone ruptures. Because of that, experts also call it a silent rupture. Mostly, patients don't notice any symptoms, and when they do, they will see the following signs:

·      Hard knots

·      Tenderness or pain

·      Changes in sensation

·      Burning

·      Numbness

·      Tingling

·      Swelling

·      Decrease breast size

·      A strange or uneven shape of breasts

The exact rate of this rupture is unknown, but experts estimate that it is around 2% to 12%.  Some implants rupture soon after the surgery, others take several years, and many last for more than ten years.

Palpability and Rippling

Rippling happens when your implant starts to create ripples or wrinkles. Palpability is the feeling of these ripples when you touch your affected breast. Sometimes, you can also observe these changes on your skin.

If you feel or see that your implant is not smooth, you may need to remove or replace it.

Change in Position

Although breast implants give a new shape or size to your breast, it doesn't prevent your breast from sagging with age. Weight loss and weight gain are some of the reasons that lead to sagging and stretching of the breasts.

You will notice that one or both of your breasts is hanging lower than usual, or your nipples are pointing in a downward direction. Hence, if you are feeling insecure with the changes, you may opt for breast implant revision or a breast lift to restore a more youthful breast shape.

How Do I Know The Right Time To Replace Breast Implants?

Patients opt for additional implant surgery or implant removing procedures for different reasons than just implant failure. You may want to reduce or increase the breast size when you lose or gain weight to maintain balance in your body.

Additionally, some people also chose to undergo additional implant surgery to increase their implant size. Others want to combine the replacement with breast reduction or lift. There are also people who don't want the implant anymore and choose to remove it.

What Can I Expect From Implant Removal?

If you want to remove the implant, seek out a board-certified plastic surgeon with great online reviews. You do not need to visit your previous surgeon to carry out their procedure. At the initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will observe the state of your implant. They will also tell your several options for your surgery.

Your plastic surgeon surgeon can opt for the following methods, depending on your desires.

·      Remove implant

·      Remove breast lift and implant

·      Remove lumpy or hardened tissues

·      Replace implant with or without the breast lift

In some cases, implant removals can lead to the following problems.

·      Sagging

·      Deflation

·      Asymmetry

·      Dimpling

In that case, your surgeon will advise you to replace your implants with new ones that have different shapes or sizes. So, depending on the kind of your surgery, most likely it will be out-patient surgery.

For recovery, you will need to stop any strenuous exercises or activities for around six weeks. Make sure to follow your plastic surgeon's instructions.

What If I Have Concerns About My Implants?

It’s crucial that keep consulting your plastic surgeon after the surgery. If you have any concerns, immediately make an appointment with your doctor. You may be surprised to know that most patients get back to their plastic surgeons, even after ten years of surgery, for a check up. Many of them also ask for further reassurance, such as asking for an MRI to check the state of the implants.  

Therefore, whether you have concerns or not, it’s best to make an appointment for a regular checkup / MRI (if silicone) of your breast implants. This limits the chances of suffering from complications.

What Can I Expect From Implant Replacement?

In the case of implant replacement, your surgeon exchanges your implants with new ones. It’s up to you. You can go for the same shape, size, and type. According to your preference, your doctor may also suggest you combine the procedure with scar tissue removal or breast lift.

You also need to know that the implant replacement cost is a bit higher than the cost of implant removal. This is because you will need to pay for implant removal, new implant placement, and other associated methods.

How Can I Increase Breast Implant Longevity?

You will be surprised to know that most people only remove or replace implants because they are not satisfied with their new shape or size. The best way to increase your implant's longevity is to choose the right shape and size of the implants the first time. Pick the one that you will love even after 10 to 20 years.

Yes, of course, people also change it for complications. In that case, you can do the following things to prevent the development of problems.

·      Pick a qualified plastic surgeon

·      Follow all the precautions and instructions of your plastic surgeon

·      Get regular MRIs (for silicone implants) to check for any sign of rupture

Bottom Line

Although breast implants are the best procedure for women who want to make their breasts look bigger or better-shaped, it also has complications. However, you can prevent any complications from happening if you choose the right shape and size the first time. But for that, you need to keep checking the state of breast implant. Additionally, by knowing all the possible complications and the indications, you can take action at the right time.

Written by
Juli Albright
Updated

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