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When Should I Have Breast Implants Replaced?

I had a breast augmentation in December 2000. I was wondering, when do I need to have them replaced? Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks!

Doctor Answers (15)

Replace or Exchange Breast Implants Only If There is A Problem

+4

Thank you for your question. You should follow up with your Plastic Surgeon to have your Breast Implants checked.

However is you are happy with your Implants and have no problems with them most Plastic Surgeons would not recommend that you replace your Breast Implants.

Problems that can require Breast Implant Replacement include:

  1. Rupture of Breast Implant
  2. Capsular Contracture or hardening
  3. Asymmetry
  4. Deformity of Implant
  5. Sagging of the Breast off of the Implant
  6. You simply no longer want to have them

Consult an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon


Boston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

They only need to be replaced if there is a problem

+2

There is no expiration date for breast implants-- some last 20-30 years or more, others need to be replaced within a few years. In general, the reasons they need to be replaced include deflation, leak, contracture, movement, or cosmetic dissatisfaction, and about 20% of women have their implants replaced within the first 10 years after their procedure for one of these reasons. If they look and feel great and you're happy with them, don't replace them.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Breast Implant Replacement

+1
I know of several women who received implants and have never had to change them, even though they've had the implants for decades. Generally, if you don't have a problem with your implants and haven't noticed any pain or a change in appearance, then there is no need to replace them.

It is important to note that while changes tend to be more obvious with saline implants, silicone implants that rupture may not be as noticeable and remain undetected for a longer time.

You should visit your surgeon or doctor regularly so that they may also examine you to make sure your implants are in good condition.  

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

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When Should I Have Breast Implants Replaced?

+1
There is no time limit as to when or if you need to exchange your breast implants. I have heard from patients that they have heard that breast implants need to be changed every 10 years. The only reason you need to exchange your breast implants is if you are having a problem with them or if you'd like to change the size.
Some of the potential complications that may arise would be deflation, capsular contracture, bottoming out, or just size change. If you are happy with the size of your breast implants and are having no problems, you don't need to do anything.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 710 reviews

Breast implants do not have an expiration date

+1

You do not need to exchange your implants unless they are leaking or causing a problem (capsular contracture, etc). Implants do not have an expiration date, so you do not need to remove them unless there is a problem.

If you have any questions about your implants, I advise you to visit with a board certified plastic surgeon. I hope that helps and wish you all the best.

James Knoetgen, III, MD
Fresno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

When to replace breast implants

+1

Unless there is an issue, there is no reason to replace the implants. Some of our patients have enjoyed their implants for over 20 years.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Breast implants do wear out over time

+1

Breast implants do wear out over time and all will eventually leak. The shell or container of the breast implant is a silicone rubber elastomer, not to be confused with silicone gel material. The rubber membrane is coated to reduce leakage, and the outer surface is occasionally textured in the belief that it will reduce capsular contracture, or help maintain the orientation of the implant.

In the year 2000 we used many saline implants in augmentation of the breast, and many silicone gel breast implants for those who needed replacement of worn gel implants, or often in the case of breast reconstruction. It is important to know what implant you are wearing and you should have been provided a card by your sugeon with your implant size, manufacture and serial number to keep in your home records.

The life of an implant before it leaks is generally 10 to 12 years, and the time can be affected by the type of fill, texturing on the surface, the manufacturer, even lifestyle. Implants can even leak prematurely for unknown reasons. This is why the FDA in the US recommends an MRI study for all silicone gel implants on a regular basis starting after 3 years. Compliance is another issue as the study is expensive and often not covered by insurance.

In our practice patients with saline filled implants will not need replacement until the implant leaks and "goes flat". We replace them under minimal sedation or even local when they have worn and patients are good to go for another 10 to 12 years or more.

Gel filled implants have become quite popular again and we advise all of the FDA recommendations and suggest they see us perhaps every two to three years. When the silicone gel implant leaks the first sign may be increasing capsular contracture or a slightly tender drawing sensation in the breast. Again the MRI test may confirm this though we also have false positive tests as well. Removal and replacement of an intact nonleaking silicone implant can be as straight forward as replacement of a worn saline implant, however once a leak has occured it becomes a different matter. At that point removal of the implant material, and the capsule are required: a bigger surgical procedure. We advise that patients with an old silicone gel implant, 10 years or older, should consider replacement before a leak occurs.

Best of luck,

peterejohnsonmd

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Breast implants don't last forever

+1

Dear Emily,

There are 2 components to all implants: The shell and the filler material.

The shell in all FDA approved implants available in the USA are silicone. The filler material can be either saline or silicone.

The saline is basically salt water at the concentration that is equal to our body's salt water concentration. So if it leaks, it gets absorbed by the body with no harmful effects. What the patient would notice is that the breast that has the leaking implant has decreased in size.

The silicone is a gel made of a material that is kinda like jello, but it is very sticky. The silicone gel material has changed over the years. The newer material is called the gummy bear silicone. This is because it is less likely to travel if it leaks.

Keep in mind that nothing lasts forever. All materials degrade over time. This is also true of breast implants.

Studies have shown that the leak rate of breast implants increases significantly after 10 years.

If you had your augmentation in 2000, you most likely have saline implants.

Saline implants generally do not have to be changed unless you are having a problem with them.

In the case of silicone, you need to be followed with regularly scheduled MRIs to make sure there is no leakage.

Furthermore, we currently recommend implant replacement in patients with silicone implants that are more than 10 years old.

Good luck with your surgery.

A. Peter Salas, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

+1

Unless you have a deflated saline or ruptured gel imppant, or unless you have a capsular contracture, or unless you are unhappy with the size or need a lift, don't do anything. I have seen patients with 35 year-old saline implants who would have had 4 "tire changes" if they went in every 10 years for an exchange - and they never would have needed one of them!

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

It depends on whether you have saline or silicone implants.

+1

Hi!

1) If you have saline implants, you never need to replace them unless one leaks. You know it's leaking because your breast will gradually get smaller.

2) If you have silicone implants, you might have a leaking implant and not know it, because the silicone stays in place and the breast doesn't change. So we recommend an MRI of the breasts every two years, because the MRI will pick up a "silent" leak in a silicone implant

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.