BREAST IMPLANTS how long do they last?

This is a common question within my practice from patients considering breast augmentation. Patients have often heard from friends or relatives that breast implants have a “life span” and must be changed periodically over time. A common misconception is that they must be replaced every 10 years.

Fortunately breast implants do not have a set expiration date or require revision surgery on a routine basis. If pleased with their appearance and there are no medical concerns regarding the implants (e.g. rupture, capsular contracture), implants may remain in place and be monitored over time.

If a saline implant ruptures, patients will note loss of volume on one side. The saline is resorbed by the body.  The implant may then be replaced to restore the desired aesthetic appearance and symmetry.  Newer generations of silicone breast implants generally have silicone gel of higher viscosity than earlier implants. Rupture of cohesive silicone gel implants generally remains contained within the implant pocket. Patients may have concerns clinically (for example, discomfort or swelling) and rupture may be confirmed by imaging. For others with silicone breast implants, silent rupture may be detected by routine mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI. A silicone breast implant if ruptured will also require exchange (or removal depending on the patient’s goals). For earlier generations of silicone implants, the gel was less viscous and rupture may result in greater contamination of the implant pocket. Removal of these implants if ruptured may require capsulectomy (which refers to removal of the fibrous tissue shell that encapsulates the implant).

Capsular contracture may also develop following breast augmentation, which was discussed in a recent blog post. This is another reason that patients may require revision surgery following breast implants. Correction of capsular contracture may be indicated (including potential implant exchange) both to improve the aesthetic outcome as well as to reduce associated firmness and/or discomfort.

So breast implants how long do they last?  The long story short, breast implants do not have a set expiration date. Given that many young patients elect to undergo breast implant surgery, it is likely that further surgery will be required at some point during one’s lifetime. It is not possible however to predict how many surgeries or the estimated time line. Many patients will have breast implants for decades and not encounter any issues that require further surgery.   Others may require revision surgery if complications develop relating to the implant itself (rupture, device failure) or healing (capsular contracture in particular).

Companies provide a limited warranty for breast implants, generally for ten years, which covers implant failure or rupture. Given that breast implants are one of the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries, imaging centers are more accustomed to imaging augmented breasts through routine mammogram screening. If any concerns are identified on imaging following breast augmentation, it is important to follow up with your plastic surgeon for further management.

If no concerns arise however, a patient may have breast implants in place for many years and not require further surgery.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding breast augmentation or would like to schedule a consultation.

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