There’s a lot of misinformation about the supposed shelf-life of breast implants, prompting many patients to ask “when do I need to have my breast implants replaced?” Saline, silicone and gummy bear implants do not have an expiration date — nor are they lifetime devices. The short answer is there is no hard and fast timeline for breast implant removal. Ten years is an arbitrary time frame that does not apply to all situations. Some women have lived happily with their breast implants for more than 20 years. Others experienced early complications like capsular contracture after just seven or eight years.
No expiration date for breast implants
Contrary to popular belief, breast implants are not fragile and are designed to withstand the rigors of high impact sports. Some of the leading implant manufacturers feature a 10-year warranty on their products, which may have sparked the misconception that implants should be changed every decade. Women who are not having any clinical problems with their implants do not need to replace them, no matter how much time has elapsed.
In her experience performing hundreds of breast augmentation surgeries, Dr. B. Aviva Preminger has had patients whose implants have lasted 15 plus years without trouble. There is no easy way to predict the longevity of your implants, since so many factors are at play. Generally speaking, implants can last anywhere between 10 and 25 years.
Over the years, breast implants are more susceptible to normal wear and tear. Periodic self-examinations and check-ups with your doctor can detect signs of early failure, which occurs in just 3 percent of patients. If you’re concerned about the integrity of your breast implants, always consult with your plastic surgeon, who can advise you on the proper course of action.
Why do breast implants fail?
The primary reasons for breast implant failure are deflation (leakage), rupture and capsular contracture. The rupture of a saline implant will be quite obvious, as the salt water solution leaks from the shell, noticeably reducing the size of the breast. Saline is totally harmless and is gradually re-absorbed by the body over a period of weeks.
With today’s silicone implants, a leak may be more challenging to detect, as cohesive gel tends to stay in the area of the implant, maintaining the normal breast volume. Patients may notice some unusual thickening of tissues, but one of the best way to diagnose a rupture is with an MRI scan. The newer ‘form-stable’ gummy bear implants are incredibly rupture-resistant and have a low failure rate compared to earlier silicone implants. That said, the FDA recommends still that silicone breast implant patients undergo an MRI every 2 years to screen for possible ruptures.
Some women experience capsular contracture, or the tightening of the scar tissue formed around the implant. This is not an implant defect, but rather the body’s own defense mechanism to what it perceives as a foreign object. This complication causes the implant to harden considerably, giving a deformed appearance. It can also cause the implant to rupture and leak. Several studies have established that textured breast implants are associated with a lower incidence of capsular contracture compared to smooth implants. It has also been discovered that implants which are placed below the muscle, as opposed to just under the skin, have a lower risk of excessive scar tissue and contracture.
Breast augmentation in NYC
Dr. B. Aviva Preminger is an award-winning, board-certified plastic surgeon who performs breast augmentation, breast lift surgery and breast reconstruction in her Manhattan surgical suite. If you are experiencing problems with your current implants, or are interested in meeting with a top breast enhancement surgeon in NYC, we invite you to schedule a private consultation by completing our online form or calling today.