One of the most common questions that patients ask is how long do breast implants last? It is completely normal to worry about the chances of another major operation sometime later. It used to be common to tell patients that breast implants had a lifespan of about 10 years. Then after that time they would need exchanged for a new set. Whilst this might have been true with older-style implants put in in the 1980s, it simply isn’t the case now. Read on to find out more.
Do breast implants need replaced after 10 years?
In 2011, the US FDA reported that 80% of silicone-gel implants were intact and did not need replaced at 10 years. So the great majority of women with implants will not require replacement within 10 years. In fact, breast implant companies often now provide a warranty with free product replacement if required within 10 years.
When would breast implants need to be replaced?
There are still a few occasions when it is right to replace breast implants. You might notice changes in the size and shape of your breasts, and you should always seek advice from your surgeon if this happens. A few situations when implants need to be replaced are:
- Rupture or leakage of the implant- the implant can lose shape and volume as the silicone leaks out and is harmlessly absorbed by the body. This should be a straightforward procedure of removing the implant, washing out any silicone gel and then replacing with brand new implants,
- Capsular contracture- it is normal for your body to create a capsule of tissue around the implant. This helps to ‘seal’ the implant off from the rest of your breast. The capsule is usually soft but for a few women it can become hard or even painful. Surgery to remove both the implant and capsule, and replace with new implants, can help. Many experienced surgeons use an antibiotic wash when placing the implant in the breast. This reduces the risk of capsule formation.
- Changes to the size and shape of the breasts with age- as you get older your breasts change naturally. This can sometimes lead to changes in the appearance of a breast augmentation. This particularly affects women who gain or lose a significant amount of weight. These patients may prefer to have their implants changed or a have breast lift procedure to make the breasts ‘perkier’ and more youthful.
How do I avoid needing to have my breast implants replaced?
The most important thing is to get the right type and size of implants put in at the first surgery. This requires a good surgeon who listens to your ideas and hopes. But it also requires honesty between the surgeon and patient about the likely results of surgery and reasonable expectations. Your surgeon should guide you to choose from CE-mark approved breast implants. Other techniques that are shown to reduce the need for breast implant replacement are the type of incision (usually in the breast crease) and placement of the implant (partially under the muscle).