Breast implants can drastically improve and transform the size, shape and symmetry of your breasts. If you have decided to undergo a breast augmentation and get implants, congratulations! While this is undoubtedly an exciting time in your life, you may be left with a variety of questions as your surgery date draws nearer.
One common question many breast augmentation patients ask is how long their breast implants will last. The short answer: it depends! Some implants will last a lifetime, whereas others need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years (or sooner) due to complications. Below we’ll go over a number of factors that will help determine how long your breast implants will last.
Is there any Visible Rippling?
Oftentimes, due to hormonal changes and overall wear and tear, breast implants show visible rippling, or bumpiness through the skin. For aesthetic reasons, you may choose to replace these, although they do not pose any health risk. If your implants are below the muscle, rippling may be more difficult to spot, which will increase the overall the life of your implants. Additionally, rippling occurs more often with saline implants than with silicone implants.
Although aesthetically, many women choose to replace rippling implants because it creates a less natural look, there is usually not a health concern with this side effect of implants.
Are the Implants Leaking?
Saline implants pose almost no safety risk in the event of a leak or breakage, as the saltwater within the implant will be simply absorbed by your body. A leak can be quickly noticed since the breast will deflate, but no pain will be present. On the contrary, although silicone can also be absorbed by your body, a silicone implant leak could cause short-term pain to the breast area. The silicone gel tends to leak at a slower rate than saline, so a leak could take days or months to even notice. Like saline implants, they will need to be replaced to prevent any pain or soreness and to restore the aesthetic appeal of the implants.
Are you Experiencing Any Pain?
If you are not experiencing any pain or discomfort, there is likely no need to replace them at all. This is why many breast implant recipients go well beyond ten or twenty years with their original implants. Pain after a breast augmentation could be the sign of a leaking implant or an excess of scar tissue. In these cases, your implant will need to be replaced in order to prevent any damage to your body and ensure you are comfortable.
Has Your Breast Become Abnormally Firm to the Touch?
In some cases, the breast implant and the capsule of tissue around it can become hard, a condition that’s known as capsular contracture. Capsular contracture can occur almost immediately after surgery, or it can develop many years later. The condition can occur on just one or on both breasts. According to the FDA, there are four stages of capsular contracture, I through IV. In the first two stages, the breast usually looks and feels normal. In the latter two stages, III and IV, the breast is firm or hard to the touch and looks unusual. In stage IV, the breast is also usually painful. Stages III and IV of capsular contracture often call for the replacement of the implant. During the surgery, the doctor will also remove the capsule that surrounds the implant. The condition can recur after replacement. To reduce chance of recurrence, a surgeon might recommend waiting to replace the implants after removal.
Do You Just Want Something Different?
At times, although your implants may be in great shape and pose no health threats, the recipient of implants changes their mind about the aesthetic they desire. Perhaps they have decided they no longer like the look of implants and want to remove them. Or perhaps just the opposite occurred, and the patient likes the implants so much they want to swap them out for larger ones! Either way, if you are no longer happy with the look of your implants, this is a perfectly valid reason to make an appointment for a removal or a replacement.
In conclusion, while breast implants can last much longer than their expected shelf life, implants aren’t guaranteed to last a lifetime. You may need to have them removed or replaced for a variety of reasons. The best way to ensure their longevity is to work with a board-certified plastic surgeon like those at Mia Aesthetics, and to follow all postoperative instructions.