Breast augmentations are a great way to improve your profile and your confidence. That being said, they aren’t necessarily a one-and-done solution. Breast implants may need to be replaced as a part of routine maintenance or due to prior complications or changes in your body. Overall, breast implants are completely safe and effective but don’t necessarily last forever. So how can you tell that they need to be replaced? Read on to learn everything you need to know about the longevity of breast implants.
How Long Do Breast Implants Last?
Believe it or not, breast implants don’t last forever. Although they don’t technically expire and are designed to be long-lasting, most breast implants will need to be replaced 10 to 20 years after the initial placement. That being said, many plastic surgeons recommend that breast implants be replaced after 10 years to decrease the likelihood of rupture or additional complications. Additionally, about 20% of patients with breast implants will need to have them removed or replaced before that 10-year timeframe due to complications.
When it comes to the different types of breast implants, saline and silicone, there’s no discernable difference in terms of longevity. That being said, silicone implants do need to be monitored by your doctor regularly through imaging such as MRIs or ultrasounds. This is because silicone implants, when punctured, do not noticeably deflate as saline implants do. In the unlikely event of a rupture, the implant will need to be removed or replaced. As a result, the FDA recommends that patients with silicone implants check the implant placement through an MRI three years after the initial placement and every two years thereafter.
What Causes Implants to Fail?
As mentioned above, implants do run the risk of rupturing or deflating over time. The good news is that this risk is very small — less than 3% in the modern type of silicone implant. That being said, there is no real way that you can prevent failing implants, as this is usually caused by direct trauma or normal wear and tear over time. Overall, you should know that breast implants are extremely durable, long-lasting, and safe despite a small risk of complications.
Signs Your Breast Implants Need to Be Replaced or Removed
If you’re worried about your implants failing, there are several signs that you need to be on the lookout for, including:
- Hardening: This could be a sign of a capsular contracture, which occurs when scar tissue hardens around one or both implants. Implant hardening can lead to tightness, pain, tenderness, and changes to the appearance of the breast.
- Saline rupture: In the event of a saline rupture, the saline will quickly leak out and be reabsorbed safely by your body. The implant will noticeably deflate, usually over a few days. Although the saline is safe for your body, removing the capsule and replacing the implant will be necessary.
- Silicone rupture: In the event of a silicone rupture, the gel is thicker than saline, so it often stays in the implant or the surrounding scar tissue. As a result, silicone ruptures are harder to notice and are often known as silent ruptures. Although many patients will not experience any signs that a rupture has occurred, some symptoms include a decrease in breast size, hard knots, pain, tenderness, tingling, swelling, numbness, burning, or changes in sensation.
- Rippling and palpability: Sometimes, the implant will develop ripples that you can either feel underneath the skin or even see through the skin. As implants are meant to have a natural feel and appearance, patients with this complication should consider replacement.
- Change in position: Weight gain, weight loss, and aging can cause stretching and sagging of the breasts over time. These are all normal occurrences that can lead to implant placements that are no longer ideal. In those cases, it may be a good idea to replace your implants or even get a breast lift to further enhance the appearance of your chest.
What to Expect When Getting Breast Implants Removed or Replaced
Understandably, you may be worried or anxious about an implant removal or replacement. After all, it’s a legitimate surgical procedure! The good news is that with the right plastic surgeon, you can safely get through the procedure while still maintaining your desired look. Depending on your exact situation, your plastic surgeon may recommend simply removing the implant, removing and doing a breast lift, removing hardened breast tissue, or replacing the implant altogether.
While it may be tempting to simply take the implant out without replacing it, this could lead to cosmetic abnormalities such as deflating, sagging, dimpling, and asymmetry. For this reason, many surgeons often recommend replacing the implant with a different size or shape so that you can maintain an aesthetically-pleasing profile.
Recovery will differ depending on which option you decide on. Overall, the recovery will likely be quite similar to the initial placement. For example, many patients will be able to return home the day of surgery, while some will have to stay overnight for observation. The first few days post-op, you will require assistance with everyday tasks, but you should be able to be back on your feet within a week or so. Finally, after about six weeks, your surgeon should clear you for a full range of physical activity such as running, lifting weights, etc.
Even though breast implants aren’t supposed to last forever, they are still a safe and beneficial option that hundreds of thousands of patients undergo every year. The right surgeon can help minimize the potential for complications and help your implants last as long as possible. Dr. Applebaum in Beverly Hills has been doing these procedures successfully for decades and can help you come up with the best treatment plan to address all your concerns.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum
Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.