Breast augmentation has been the most popular plastic surgery procedure performed in the United States for several years. The procedure can increase the size of the breasts with the placement of saline or silicone implants, helping women feel sexier and more confident. However, like anything, implants don't last forever.
So how long do breast implants last? The lifespan of breast implants depends on the individual; in some cases they will need to be replaced within the first couple of years after surgery, while others can last as long as 25 years. In general though, manufacturers of breast implants say the products should last about 10 years, on average. Through normal activities, the implants will move and shift within the body over time, eventually wearing down and requiring replacement.
To recap, breast implants can last from 2 days to even 25 years, but on average they last 10 years.
Signs that Your Implants Need Replacement
Implants are usually a bag of silicone filled with either saline or silicone solution. There are other types of implants, like the "gummy bear implant" which are undergoing clinical studies in the USA, but the most common are saline and silicone filled implants.
One of the things that makes the answer to the question, "How long do breast implants last?" so variable is that the skin of the implant can break under certain circumstances. If the skin of the implant ruptures (whether its a small hole or a large tear), the saline or silicone solution will begin to leak. Older implants are usually more susceptible to ruptures since they have been worn down more, and can sometimes rupture if worn all the way through. Accidents or trauma can rupture the bag as well, as well as defective bags or other complications.
Symptoms of a ruptured implant include a decrease in the size and shape of the breast, pain, tingling, numbness, burning, swelling, and nodules. In some cases, women can't tell when their breast implants have ruptured; experts recommend that women undergo regular MRIs so doctors can see if the implants remain intact.
Over time, the breast implant can begin to ripple as the filler material and shell shift. The most common type of rippling that's created is from shell rippling, where a slender woman has received an implant placed over their chest muscle, but under the mammary gland. Since there isn't normally as much tissue to cover up the implants, they look find in the beginning, but can show ripples later. This is because the implants, being filled bags, tend to fold in on themselves while under pressure from the body. Breast tissue that covered it initially may also recede a bit, revealing the ripples even more.
In short, skinnier women are more affected by rippling, so discuss this with your surgeon if you are concerned. Also, saline implants tend to ripple the most, with silicone rippling less, and "gummy bear implants" the least.
Capsular contracture is a side effect that sometimes occurs after breast implants are placed. Scar tissue can build up around the implant as the body's immune system responds to a foreign object in the body. Signs of capsular contracture include pain and hardening of the breasts. If you feel this may be happening to you, promptly contact your surgeon or doctor to determine the best course of action.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast augmentation before and after photos.
Photo credit: Accent Plastic Surgery
Ask a Qualified Surgeon "How Long do Breast Implants Last?"
If you are considering breast implants and want to ask a professional surgeon "How long do breast implants last?" find a breast surgeon in your area through DocShop. Ask about the lifespan of the different types of implants, as well as the risks each one presents and how that may affect their lifespan.
If you have had your breast implants for more than 10 years, you may need removal or replacement surgery in the near future. Schedule an appointment to have your breast implants checked for ruptures or other problems, and speak to a plastic surgeon about your breast implant revision options.