If you’re thinking about having breast augmentation with implants, you probably have a list of questions you’d like answered. Of all plastic surgery procedures, breast augmentation is probably the one with the most variables: What implant material will you choose? What size and shape do you prefer? It’s also the surgery associated with the most confusion and misinformation.
One significant question among our prospective patients is how long implants last before they need replacing (in a procedure known as breast implant revision). We’ll do our best to clarify things here by explaining what science and experience have shown.
How Long Do Breast Implants Last?
It’s true that breast implants don’t last forever. However, there’s a common misconception that they have expiration dates and need replacing every few years. Every woman’s experience is unique, but averages from thousands of patients and years of experience can give you a sense of what to expect.
Sometimes, breast implants have flaws that require revision surgery. The most common problem is a rupture of the implant shell, allowing the saline or silicone gel filling to leak into the body. This phenomenon happens to about 20% of implant recipients by the 10-year point. That means roughly 80% of women have implants that remain stable beyond then — often well beyond. Some implants last a lifetime without needing replacement.
Rarer issues with breast implants include capsular contracture, which is a painful condition where a thick layer of scar tissue forms around the implant. It’s also possible for implants to shift out of position, which changes the breasts’ appearance.
Often, people with breast implants decide to have them replaced for reasons that have nothing to do with durability or other problems. Many women choose to have their implants exchanged for larger or smaller ones as time goes by. Some women have implants replaced because of changes to their bodies as they age, and a desire to adjust implant size to better balance their contours. Patients may opt to switch to smaller implants because of lifestyle changes, and a desire for smaller breasts for greater comfort during exercise or other physical activity. You might choose to change your implant size for a better fit in your preferred clothing styles.
Combining implant replacements for all reasons — both problems with the original implants and personal decisions to change implant size — the average patient has implants replaced after 11 to 15 years.
What the Numbers Mean for You
How should you think about these numbers? After all, they represent averages, ranges, and possibilities, and not defined predictions. We suggest that you make your decision to have breast augmentation with the understanding that you may need or choose to have the implants replaced at some time in your future. Your implants could last a lifetime, or they might last only a few years. You may remain satisfied with their size 20 years from now, or you may want to exchange them for a new look and body shape well before that.
As you consider breast augmentation, you should also understand you’ll need to have regular screenings for implant-related problems. When a saline implant ruptures, you’ll know almost right away: One of your breasts will get noticeably smaller. We recommend regular check-ins with your doctor to watch for signs of a leak in a silicone implant – which won’t be immediately obvious to you – and for indications of other problems, such as capsular contracture.
Learn More About Breast Augmentation in Annapolis
At the Sandel Duggal Center for Plastic Surgery in Annapolis, Dr. Claire Duggal has years of experience in all aspects of cosmetic surgery, including breast augmentation and breast implant revision. She has earned a stellar reputation for her beautiful results and her caring attention to patients’ health. Call us today at (410) 266-7120 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn more.