If you are considering breast implants, or have already had surgery, you may have heard the rumor that breast implants have to be replaced every 10 years. This isn’t necessarily the case.
The truth is, your breast implants are designed to be a lifetime device. This means that they should only be replaced if a problem takes place. Today's 5th generation silicone breast implants have an average life expectancy between 15 and 20 years.
So, how long will your breast implants last? Well, the answer depends on a few factors, including: size and shape, doctor’s skill, the healing process, type of implant, and the overall health of the patient. Other factors like the model of the implant also come into play.
To help you get a better idea how long your implants will last, in this article, I explain:
Let's begin, starting with the different types of breast implants, and how their lifespans compare to each other.
I. The Different Types of Breast Implants and Their Life Spans
The lifespan of your breast implants depends largely on the type of implant you have. The two main types of breast implants are:
Saline breast implants involve replaceable, hollow, silicone implants being filled with liquid saline injections, which have the consistency of water. The advantage of these implants is that they can be easily adjusted over time, through additional injections if needed.
Silicone breast implants are a solid injection that has the consistency of a gummy bear like gel. This type of implant often gives the breast a more natural, tissue-like feel to it.
The average saline or silicone implants can last between 10 and 20 years. Some are removed sooner for cosmetic reasons or because of a complication, but this only occurs in a very limited percentage of patients.
a) How Long Do Silicone Breast Implants Last?
There have been many improvements in breast implant design and performance over the years. The current 5th generation of silicone breast implants are made of a “highly cohesive” silicone gel that provides the best performance compared to previous models, and are expected to last 15-20 years or more.
b) How Long Do Saline Breast Implants Last?
Saline implants will typically last between 8-10 years without any issues. In part, the longevity of these implants is contingent upon the experience of the surgeon, your overall health, and your health throughout the years. With saline implants, there is more room for complications, due to the liquid they contain.
II. When Do Breast Implants Need to Be Removed or Replaced?
Today, patients can expect their implants to last very long. The chance of something going wrong with your implants increases by about 1% per year. This means that after having your implants for a full decade there is still a 90% chance that your implants will be just fine, and not require removal or replacement.
Women who choose to undergo breast augmentation should be prepared to perform self checks and undergo regular, annual checkups just to make sure their implants are intact.
In the rare occasion that breast implants are removed or replaced, there are typically a few reasons for it:
1. A Size Change is Desired
Replacing your breast implants doesn't have to be a medical emergency. Plenty of women simply choose replacement surgery because they want to change the type of implant they have, or want to change size.
This is possible thanks to advances in modern breast augmentation. You might decide that you want larger breast implants than the ones you originally received. Conversely, you might have paid for large implants and now want to replace them with smaller breast implants.
2. An Implant Fails
Implants can fail for a number of reasons. Usually, this happens in the first few weeks or months after surgery, and is typically either surgeon or patient error. If doctor’s orders are not followed, this can lead to ruptured or failed breast implants.
When a breast implant fails, some women exhibit little to no symptoms. Others have symptoms including:
Since your implants can occasionally fail with very little warning immediately after surgery, it is very important to keep in touch with your surgeon and check in regularly.
3. A Breast Implant No Longer Looks Good
As women age, skin increases in laxity, hormones change, and body weight fluctuates. This can cause the look and feel of your breasts to change. As a result, some women with breast implants become uncomfortable with the way their old implants look as they age.
Over time, implants can also drift out of normal position due to:
This results in what is called breast implant malposition, which can come in a few different forms:
a) Common Types of Breast Implant Malpositions
Bottoming out (inferior malposition) due to gravity and tissue stretching is one potential risk. This is where the breast begins to settle down over time.
Lateral malposition (shifting the the side) due to gravity and tissue stretching is another. This is where over time, the breasts begin to shift to the outside of the torso, settling to the sides.
Some patients also experience Symmastia (medial malposition) due to tissue stretching, tissue failure, or error of placement. This occurs when the breasts become closer to one another, settling towards the center of the torso.
Superior malposition can happen due to capsular contracture. This causes the breasts to settle higher than the initial implants.
b) Breasts Changing As You Age
As the tissues age in your body, rippling can occur. Rippling is when visible ripples appear on the surface of your skin. If this detracts from your confidence and the enjoyment you get out of your breast implants, talk to your plastic surgeon about what options can be use to fix the problem.
Some women will also develop what is called a capsular contracture or hardened scar tissue around the implant. This can cause your implant and the area around it to harden, and become uncomfortable.
c) Fixing Breast Implant Malposition
With saline implants, additional injections may be able to alleviate these problems.
For women with silicone implants, you may need to consider a replacement or removal in order to solve this problem.
Again, as your body starts to age, your tissues might sag and while the implant remains in its original position respective to the internal tissue, as those tissues sag, the implant might sag as well. In such situations you can visit your plastic surgeon to receive a breast lift.
If you experience any of these problems with your breast implants, you should speak with your plastic surgeon immediately. If you think that the problem has come as a result of their work, we strongly recommend working with a breast implant removal/replacement specialist to fix it.
4. Other Problems That May Occur
There are other medical problems that can take place, which can require additional surgery to replace or remove the implant. These include the following:
Regardless of the reason, an experienced breast implant revision specialist can help you to get rid of, or replace your implants.
III. How can I tell if I need a breast implant replacement or removal?
Women who need a breast implant revision or removal often experience one or multiple of the following circumstances:
Hardening can cause tenderness, pain, and physical tightness. Again, this is related to having excess scar tissue at the incision site and it can result in abnormal cosmetic changes to the breast implant. Some patients experience this on just one breast, while others experienced it on both.
b) Silicone Rupture
A ruptured silicone gel implant might be slightly more difficult to detect, which is why people refer to the rupture of silicone implants as the “silent rupture”. You will probably notice a shift in sensation in the affected area, or you might feel small lumps. The change in your breast size or shape may be slightly less evident which is why it is important to visit your doctor regularly and always have your breasts checked every few years.
c) Saline Rupture
A ruptured saline implant will start to deflate rather quickly. The saline itself is sterile, but a loss of fluid into your breast tissue can still be dangerous. In such cases, you will notice your implant change in size and shape.
If you experience the symptoms of a ruptured saline or silicone implant, it is extremely important that you meet with your plastic surgeon or doctor immediately to discuss the severity of the situation and how quickly you need to have surgery to rectify the situation.
d) Look or Feel of Implants
You might notice wrinkles or ripples in your breast implants over time. Palpability refers to your ability to feel those wrinkles or ripples just by touching your breasts. You might even be able to see them through your skin.
This is part of the natural aging process, and can be hard to avoid. However, breast implant revision surgery can be done in order to get the young, perky look you desire, even in old age.
IV. How frequently do breast implants need to be removed?
Over the first 10 years after implant placement, here are the average risks in the US for silicone implants according to a recent review published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal:
In total, you will likely not need a replacement or removal in the first 10 years of your implants. After this, your implants begin to show signs of age and have a higher likelihood of needing additional surgery.
However, as long as you have a highly trained surgeon, obey doctor’s orders, let them heal properly, and treat them well, chances are, your breast implants will last well beyond a decade with little to no problems.
V. Breast Implant Replacement Surgery - What to Expect
A qualified plastic surgeon will be able to remove or replace your breast implants. You don't necessarily have to use the plastic surgeon who completed the procedure initially.
When you undergo your consultation, the plastic surgeon will evaluate the state of your implants and your situation. Based on your surgical preferences, your situation, and your implants, your breast implant replacement surgery can require different solutions:
Chances are, unless you have a massive leak or rupture, or have additional health concerns that make surgery impossible, you should be able to easily have your implants replaced, or fixed to look as good as new.
VI. How much does breast implant replacement surgery cost?
The average cost of breast implant replacement surgery in the United States is $7,950. On the low-end you can pay as little as $3,000 on average. Dallas, Texas offers some of the cheapest surgeries in the nation at only $1,500. On the high-end you can pay well over $13,000, with Massachusetts charging some of the highest for surgeries, over $14,000 on average.
Again, this cost is going to be greatly influenced by where you are but also what procedures you have done. Here are some average costs for breast implant replacement in some of the large US cities:
Average Cost Per Treatment
New York City
The cost of breast implant replacement surgery is also contingent upon the specifics of the procedure. Removing hardened tissue is going to cost less than removing and replacing an implant. The price will also be influenced by the skill of the surgeon, and the location of the clinic or facility.
VII. How to Make Your Breast Implants Last Longer
In order to make your breast implants last longer, you should do your best to choose the right size the first time. Often times, many replacement surgeries result from patients who did not listen to the surgeon’s implant recommendations.
Only work with the best doctors. The best plastic surgeons are those with experience in your surgery specifically. A general plastic surgeon with limited experience handling silicone breast implant surgeries might not be the best option for you. Given the fact that your health is on the line and that breast implant surgery is expensive, paying more for a highly skilled cosmetic surgeon is well worth it.
Once you have undergone your procedure, make sure you allow for a proper recovery by following your surgeon’s instructions.
VIII. Looking to Learn More About Breast Implant Surgery?
If you are interested in considering breast implant surgery, I strongly recommend that you take our breast implant self evaluation in order to find out if surgery is right for you.
Or, if you still have questions, these resources should help to answer them:
You can also check out our blog for even more healthy and helpful tips, guides, and strategies on breast implants, health, aging, and cosmetic surgery.
IX. Speak With A Breast Implant Surgery & Revision Specialist
My passion is helping my clients look and feel more confident in their bodies, in order to help them live their best lives. I have over 10+ years of experience with breast implants, replacements, removals, and augmentations, and have helped hundred of clients get the results they were looking for.
I have also been voted one of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons, 10 times in a row, and am Board Certified. I am confident that I have the experience and the passion to get you the results you are looking for. Contact 77 Plastic Surgery today to setup a consultation in which we will go over:
Don’t hesitate, you deserve the body you’ve always wanted. Look and feel better today!