We’ve all seen the TikTok posts where plastic surgeons and their teams try desperately to puncture, break and tear silicone breast implants – they appear to be unbreakable. Safe breast implants that have longevity are great for patients, however during breast augmentation consults, there are five (5) questions that are always asked: How long do breast implants last? Do breast implants need replacing every 10 years? What are reasons breast implants need to be removed or replaced? How will I know if my breast implants have ruptured? Can breast implants last a lifetime?
To maintain healthy breasts with implants, the FDA recommends an MRI every two (2) years beginning three (3) years after the implant procedure.
- How long do breast implants last?
It is said that the average lifespan of breast implants is 10 to 15 years. However, depending on the kind of implants you may have, where they are placed in the breast and the skill level of the surgeon, it is possible for breast implants to last beyond 15 years. At about the 15 year-mark, some patients with implants may notice a change in their breast shape, hardening of the breast tissue or a difference in texture of the skin surrounding their breasts. When this happens, patients often seek options, including breast implant removal, implant replacement or a breast lift.
- Do breast implants need replacing every 10 years?
At some point there was a rumor going around that breast implants had to be removed and replaced every 10 years. As a rule, that is not true. Implants only need to be replaced if there are issues with the implants themselves or the tissue surrounding them, such as capsular contracture or when the implants rupture. Some patients choose to replace implants 10-15 years after their procedure for cosmetic reasons – they want bigger, smaller or different shaped breasts.
- What are reasons breast implants need to be removed or replaced?
Putting cosmetic reasons aside, capsular contracture and breast implant ruptures are the two major medical reasons patients remove or replace their breast implants.
Capsular contracture is when the scar tissue around the breast implants thickens and causes the implant to be hardened. This process can be very painful for the patient. The remedy for thickened scar tissue around the implants is medication and removal of the implants and tissue. When patients choose to have new implants, they are often placed in a different area in the breasts. Medication that prevents scar tissue from forming may also be prescribed.
When breast implants rupture the outer shell cracks, and the filling of the implant is exposed. New generation silicone implants contain a gel that stays in place and does not leak. For some, ruptures occur due to the age or model of the implant and although rare, breasts implants may rupture from mammograms or severe trauma to the breast area.
- How do I know if my breast implants have ruptured?
It is not always obvious when breast implants rupture. Some patients with saline breast implants will notice the size of the breast will decrease as the saline leaks and is absorbed into the breast tissue. In the new silicone gel implants it can be more difficult to determine if they have ruptured because the gel is created to stay contained within the implant. When the implant ruptures yet remains inside the breast capsule, it is called an intracapsular rupture and can be undetectable without an examination or MRI. In many cases, when a patient sees signs of an implant rupture, the surgeon may order an ultrasound or MRI to confirm.
- Can breast implants last a lifetime?
Breast implants are not meant to last a lifetime, including the newest and most innovative models. At some point, if you live long enough, you will need to have your breast implants removed or replaced. With or without implants, breasts naturally change over time due to the decrease in skin elasticity and breast tissue density. As breast tissue thins around implants, rippling may occur, and some opt to have the implants removed or replaced or a breast lift (mastopexy) to restore their perkiness.
If you notice a change in your breast with implants – shape, size or texture, please reach out to your surgeon immediately.