What is the Life Span of the "Improved" Silicon Gel Breast Implants?

I've heard that because of the thicker shell and the more cohesive gel, the silicone implants nowadays will last much longer. What is the average life span of the improved silicone implants?

Doctor Answers (12)

Silocone breast Implants

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Silicone gel is inert and is not absorbed by the body, and in cohesive silicone gel implants the material remains inside the implant shell rather than leaking into the space around the implant contained by the fibrous capsule. So when the shell of a cohesive silicone gel implant fails, there are no signs or symptoms that this has happened. The breast looks and feels the same, and the only way a patient would know that one of their cohesive silicone gel implants has failed would be to undergo a radiologic study such as an MRI scan, which currently is the most sensitive and specific study for detecting gel implant failure.

This is sometimes referred to silicone gel implant 'rupture', but I think that term really reflects what happens to liquid silicone gel implants when the outer shell fails - the liquid gel material leaks out of them into the space contained by the fibrous capsule around the implant. These implants are no longer available, and I think the term 'rupture' should be discarded along with them. Implant 'failure' is a better term, I believe, for cohesive silicone gel implants, as the solid-state gel material remains within the outer shell when there is a break in the integrity of the outer shell.

Because cohesive gel implant failure is silent, i.e. there are no detectable changes in the augmented breast when it occurs, the FDA has recommended that patients receiving the new silicone gel implants undergo breast implant MRI screening for implant rupture at regular intervals following breast augmentation surgery. Postoperative MRI screening is a recommendation, not an FDA requirement, and the interval at which any cohesive silicone gel breast augmentation patient undergoes such testing is purely the decision of each individual patient.


Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Implants have a life time warranty

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Hello,

All implants, silicone or saline carry a life time warranty against defects.  Most women get them replaced as part of improving the size and shape of their breasts as they age.  I think national average is around 10 years for this process but if you are happy with the appearence of your breasts with the implants that you choose there is no specific time fram or reason to have them replaced.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Life span of silicone implants

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Silicone implants of today are made of a cohesive gel .  This gel does not leak or break down even if the outer shell is compromised.  In fact, you can cut these implants in half and you will see very little change.  These implants have been nicknamed, "Gummy Bear Implants."  These silicone shells are stronger and less prone to leasks and the filler gel is still far thicker and vicous than fillers in the past.  Regardless, the life span of the implant is difficult to answer exactly.  Usually I recommend changing implants; silicone or saline, every 10-12 years.

Christopher W. Chase, MD
Chattanooga Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

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Life span of Implants

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I tell all my patients that there is no guarantee on how long they will last.  On average maybe around 15 years but I've changed implants out that were 25 years old and I have seen implants fail in just a few years after surgery.  As is true with any man-made device, there will be wear and tear.  Bottom line: at some point you will need to change your implants out.

Jeffrey Hartog, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

What is the Life Span of the "Improved" Silicon Gel Breast Implants?Answer:

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It kind of depends on what you mean by “lifespan” because it’s probably 10-12 years on average before they get a hole in the shell, but then who knows on how long they might go until you would eventually notice anything different…if ever at all! We have all seen patients even with the old gel implants that had theirs for 30 yrs only later to discover on a routine mammogram that they were broken! However with the new cohesive gel, its hard to say what we will see 30 years later!

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Life span of implants

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It is hard to predict the lifespan of breast implants. They can last a lifetime for some but most need to be changed or exchanged sometime down the road for either leakage, capsular contracture, infection, etc..

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

What is the Life Span of the "Improved" Silicon Gel Breast Implants?

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Breast implants are no different than all other man-made devices be their cars, planes, roofs, shoes etc. Eventually, wear and tear causes all such things to fail. Just as you see old planes flown by collectors and old cars driven about, these devices all have a lift time but it is never uniform. Some live and function longer than others. The same is true with breast implants. It is safe to say that breast implants can fail a day after surgery to as long as 30 years after surgery. Both are extremes. But all Plastic surgeons have seen women with 20 year old intact implants who do not require surgical intervention.

Rather than worrying about WHEN your implants may leak, I suggest you accept that they will eventually leak. But, when they do BOTH Mentor and Allergan, the two largest implant manufacturers in the US and the world, will give you a new pair of implants at no charge at that time regardless of where you live.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Longevity Of Silicone Gel Breast Implants

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The reality is that no one knows for sure how long any breast implant will last. It is presumed that newer generation silicone gel implants will last longer than those in the past and that would certainly seem to be true with improved manufacturing methods and materials development. But until the currently used silicone gel implants have been used for 15 to 20 years, their average lifespan will remain speculative. This is why it is important to recognize that most breast implants will eventually fail (rupture) and have an understanding of how the manufacturer's warranty works.

Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Life span of silicone implants

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The incidence of silicone implant rupture with thicker shells and cohesive silicone gel is around 1% per year based on current statistics. Both Allergan and Mentor currently provide you with a lifetime replacement warranty. If you ever have a rupture, they will give you a free replacement implant and, if that rupture occurs in the first 10 years after surgery, the will also pay you up to $2400-3500 towards the cost of replacement.

James McMahan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Life Span of Silicone Implants...

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I agree with the statistics presented by Dr. Pousti regarding reported silicone gel leakage/rupture rates, although I haven't seen comparable information with respect to, exclusively,  the new Mentor "Memory Gel" cohesive gel implants.

As an additional note, I would like to point out that these implants now carry a standard manufacturer 10-year warranty for surgical replacement of any implants shown to leak or rupture.

I have been using the Mentor  Memory Gel product in patients for the past 6 years (including 1 year of pre-approval study), and I have not, as of yet, had a patient experience leakage/rupture requiring surgical implant replacement. This isn't to say this won't eventually occur... only that the incidence must be quite small, considering the large number of these implants I've used over these past years.

Only the passage of time will provide sufficient data to offer a good answer to your question!

Charles Gruenwald, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 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.