The Truth about Breast Implant Replacement

The Truth about Breast Implant Replacement

It’s a common concern many women have when considering breast implants. “How often should I replace them?” There’s a myth that breast implants must be replaced every ten years and the thought of undergoing breast augmentation every decade can seem a bit overwhelming and expensive.  Dr. Bruce Van Natta, a board certified plastic surgeon from Indianapolis, Indiana explains how breast implants actually last longer than most people think.

By Dr. Bruce Van Natta, MD
and Susan Kamyab

No Problems, No Worries

“Over time, your breasts can change due to aging, weight gain or loss, hormonal fluctuations and the effects of gravity,” says Dr. Van Natta.  But, only if you become dissatisfied with the way your breasts look or there is a problem with your implants, do you need to think about replacement. The truth is there is no “exact” expiration date for breast implants.  It is a general misconception that implants need to be replaced every ten years. There are plenty of  patients whose implants have lasted over twenty years without any trouble.  Of course, there are those rare patients who will experience implant leakage or other issues after only a few years.  But, if you are not having any problems with your implants at ten years, there is no need to replace them no matter how much time has passed.

The Right Time for Changing

There are certain problems that may occur with your breast implants that will make it necessary for you to have them removed and replaced.  A rupture of the breast implant, causing leakage, is one problem that will require you to replace the implant. Saline implant leaks are easily identified:

  • Patients will notice the breast deflating and it will become smaller in size.
  • It will not harm or hurt the patient because the salt water will be absorbed by the body.
  • Even though it is not dangerous to your health, replacement is suggested as soon as possible before the tissues begin to shrink.

Ruptured Silicone Implant

When it comes to silicone implants, a rupture or leak is harder to tell:  

  • The silicone gel is likely to stay in the area of leakage, causing the implant to maintain volume.
  • If there is a small leak in the shell but the surrounding scar pocket, or capsule, is intact, it may be impossible to tell that there’s a problem.
  • Sometimes the only way to tell if there’s such a leak is to have an MRI or CAT scan.
  • Many surgeons won’t necessarily recommend replacement if the leak is contained within the scar pocket. In essence, the scar pocket acts as a second container around the silicone gel.
  • In the rare case that the leak extends outside the scar pocket/capsule, then most surgeons will recommend replacement.

Implants are not Forever

Breast implants are not permanent devices.  Most everything we place in our bodies will need to be replaced at some point.  Dr. Van Natta says, “It’s not a bad thing that people think they need to replace their implants every ten years.  This makes patients aware that these are not forever devices.”  If you are cautious and follow the proper instructions your plastic surgeon has given you, it will ensure the best results and longer-lasting implants.

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