Many patients are confused as there is lots of misleading information out there… The truth is, there is no exact “shelf life” or expiration date when it comes to breast implants. It is a common misconception that implants need to be replaced every ten years. I’ve seen patients whose implants have lasted 20+ years trouble-free, but have also seen patients who have experienced implant leakage after only a few years. If you are not having any problems with your implants, there is no need to replace them no matter how much time has past.
With saline implants, a leak is easily identified, because patients will notice the breast deflating and becoming smaller in size. It is not painful or harmful as the saline (or salt water) is just absorbed by the body. Although not critical to your health, replacement is recommended as soon as possible. Saline implants do not require any special monitoring.
A rupture or leak is a harder to tell with silicone implants. The silicone gel tends to stay in the area of leakage and the volume or size of the implant is maintained. The newer generation of implants do have lower rupture rate than older implants, but detection is still difficult.
The first way to evaluate the silicone breast implant is with a physical examination by your plastic surgeon. Very often the first sign of a leak or rupture is thickening or hardening in the tissues surrounding the implant. Confirming a leak can best be done with an MRI of the breast, as a mammogram is not very good at detecting leakages. With silicone breast implant leakage or rupture, it is recommended that the implant be replaced or removed as soon as possible.
If you are happy with your Breast Implants at 10 years and there are no problems with them, most Plastic Surgeons would not recommend removal.
Problems which can occur and may require removal include:
1. Rupture of Breast Implant
2. Capsular Contracture or hardening
4. Ptosis or sag
5. No longer want Implants
Be sure to follow up with your surgeon. Generally Medical Insurance does not cover cosmetic replacement of Breast Implants. Most Implant manufacturers however have a warranty program for their implants.
This is a commonly asked question and frequent source of confusion amongst patients. There is a general misconception that breast implants should be replaced every ten years. The origin of this belief is unclear, but is probably secondary to misinterpretation of implant warranty terminology.
The manufacturers of breast implants clearly state that these devices are not intended to last a lifetime, despite this, many patients can expect to have implants last their entire lifetime. Current studies suggest that implants deflate at a rate of one percent at one year and three percent at three years. Overtime, this number can be expected to grow.
Implants may deflate with no apparent cause or may deflate secondary to some type of trauma. Under these circumstances, the decision to replace implants is easy. If a patient is doing well and not having problems with breast implants, we see no reason to routinely replace implants just because a set time period has passed.
Although, insurance doesn’t generally cover the cost of implant replacement, these devices do come with a warranty. In some cases, extended warranties can be purchased as well. When implants deflate, the warranty usually covers the cost of replacement.