Although there is no expiration date on breast implants, they are not lifetime devices. However, there is a common misconception that implants, whether saline or silicone, only need to be replaced if there is a problem with them. Even though a problematic issue with any implant should be addressed immediately, it is just as crucial for women with breast implants to have regular check-ups to monitor their breast health.
As part of a routine physical check-up, it is important for a health professional to do breast exams regularly. Breast exams should be scheduled every three years for women over the age of 20 and yearly for women over the age of 40. The examination will focus on any changes in shape, size, or symmetry of the breasts, along with any skin changes such as rashes, redness, or dimpling. With or without implants, regular check-ups are crucial for early detection of breast cancer and other abnormalities.
Unfortunately, there are a number of complications that can arise with having breast implants, requiring the patient to undergo a second breast augmentation. Among these complications are implant rupture and capsular contracture.
A rupture is a tear or a hole in the outer shell of the breast implant that causes it to leak. As time goes on, the risk of implant rupture increases. With saline implants, the body typically absorbs the saltwater solution, which leaves the saline implant deflated and causes an obvious change in size and firmness of the breast. Silicone ruptures vary in that the gel is thicker and may remain in the shell or the scar tissue that forms around the implant. Silicone implant ruptures may be undetectable to the human eye, which is why periodic MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are important. In both cases, the ruptured implant should be replaced.
Capsular contracture is another complication that will lead to implant replacement. This occurs when there is a hardening in the tissue surrounding the implant in one or both of the breasts. Sometimes, this hardening can be painful. Although the cause of capsular contracture is unknown, it may happen at any time after the primary procedure.
Therefore, given there are no complications, breast implants typically last between 10-15 years and replacement should be considered. Aside from the natural gravitational pull that will cause breast implants to sag, other operations may also be considered as time lapses. This may include changing the size of implant or a lift in the breasts. Considering the individual needs of each patient, a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon will determine when replacement is best.
If your desire is to achieve beautiful breasts through augmentation or if you are considering breast implant replacement, Dr. Samuel J. Beran offers many different types of cosmetic surgery procedures to provide you with healthy, natural looking results. To schedule your consultation with Dr. Beran, please call us at (212) 792-7938 or fill out our contact form.