How Long Will My Breast Implants Last?

breast implants

Breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. A woman’s breasts change with age, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy. Over the course of several years, these changes can affect the appearance of your breasts and the positioning of the implants. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation, also known as breast enlargement has become the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure performed on women in the United States.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most manufactured breast implants have a normal life span of approximately 10 to 15 years.

There are two types of breast implants used to enhance and enlarge the size of a woman’s breasts. Saline-filled implants consist of silicone shells filled with sterile saline solution, similar to salt water. The silicone shells are surgically implanted and are then filled with saline once they are in the proper position. Silicone-gel breast implants use the same type of shells, pre-filled by the manufacturer with a plastic gel substance called silicone. Many women report that silicone-gel implants have the appearance and feel of normal breasts. Although silicone breast implants may be softer and feel like normal breasts, they can cause serious health issues if they rupture.

In a warning issued on June 23, 2011, the FDA warned that women should be aware that silicone-gel breast implants should not be expected to last a lifetime. According to agency statistics, various complications including scar tissue and implant ruptures have caused one in five women to undergo surgery for removal and replacement of breast implants within 10 years. Women who receive breast implants following breast cancer surgery have a higher revision rate than women who receive implants for cosmetic reasons.

The longer a woman has breast implants, the more likely she may experience complications. The FDA urges women with breast implants to undergo regular examinations and MRI scans to determine the health and safety of the implants and to make sure they have not ruptured or shifted from place.

Most breast augmentation surgeons recommend that women with silicone-gel implants undergo a routine MRI scan approximately three years after implantation, followed by scans every two years thereafter. The purpose of the MRI scans is to maintain the health of the implants by detecting small ruptures or leaks that may not have become symptomatic.

As women’s breasts change with age, weight fluctuations and pregnancy, the tissue and skin surrounding the implants can sag or droop. Revision surgery may be necessary to remove and replace the implants, creating the desired shape and contour of the breasts. In some instances scar tissue can form around the implant and eventually harden, causing changes in the shape of the breast. If an implant ruptures, the affected breast may become wrinkled or lopsided.

If a saline implant ruptures or leaks, the saline will be absorbed into your body. The implant will deflate immediately. If a silicone-gel implant ruptures or leaks, the silicone gel will either remain inside the shell or leak into surrounding tissues. In either case, revision surgery must be performed to remove and replace the affected implant.

Contact Dr. Steven Warnock’s office in Draper, UT, to schedule a private and confidential consultation. You will be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. Doctor Warnock can explain the differences between saline and silicone-gel implants and will work with you to determine the best option to suit your needs. You will receive detailed information about the breast augmentation surgical procedure, follow-up care and what to expect during your recovery.