Antique Silicone Implants - Should I Have Them Removed?

I had silicone breast implants done 30 years ago and my last mammo showed them intact. Should I have them removed because they are old?

Doctor Answers 21

Antique silicone gel implants

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While I'm glad that your mammogram was normal, it isn't really the best test to look at implants - it's better for examining the breast tissue itself.  Mammograms can miss more subtle implant problems.

I'd prefer if you had a normal breast ultrasound or MRI.  If those were normal, then I'd be OK with leaving the implants alone for now.

Changing the implants is something you will have to address eventually.  The surgery and recovery are not difficult, if there are no capsules or implant leakage issues.

All the best,

Antique implants

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Congratulations, 30 years is remarkable! While it is good news that your mammogram is normal, the “Gold Standard” for detecting a ruptured silicone implant is a MRI study. If that confirms that they are intact and you are happy with their appearance, there is typically no need for plastic surgery. More accurate advice can be given after an examination and review of your studies by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon

Should older silicone implants be replaced?

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The make of implants from 30 years ago is different from current FDA-approved silicone gel implants. It is possible that in spite of a negative mammogram that the outer shell of the implant has leaked but typically any silicone is contained within the scar surrounding the implant called  the capsule. If you really want to avoid surgery but want to make sure the implants are intact, a breast MRI would be the best atarting point.

I hope this helps.

Dr Edwards

Remove and exchange very old silicone breast implants

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One point to made is that you are in no health risk by doing nothing. On the other hand, the likelihood of an intracapsular leak in 30 year old breast implants is very high and often the leak is not detected on mammogram. Intracapsular leak is when the gel is leaking and present within the scar capsule formed around the implant in the healing process. When the gel contacts the capsule it can cause irritation and tenderness, calcifications, and eventually capsule contracture. You could wait for the problems to arise, or count your blessings and invest is new implants.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Very old silicone gel implants

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Mammograms do not reliably show rupture of implants.  We have all seen many cases, particularly in very old silicone gel implants, where the entire implant shell was degraded, and they appeared normal on mammogram.  MRI is better for detecting leakage or rupture than mammogram.

Statistically, implants from 30 years ago are probably ruptured.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 195 reviews

Antique Silicone Implants - Should I Have Them Removed?

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Regarding: "Antique Silicone Implants - Should I Have Them Removed?
I had silicone breast implants done 30 years ago and my last mammo showed them intact. Should I have them removed because they are old

LOVE your description!

Just because something is new, does not necessarily make it good and just because something is old does not necessarily mean it is bad and needs to be replaced. Our roads have plenty of vintage cars which run perfectly well.

Since breast implant exchange is relatively straight forward with intact implants there are definite advantages to getting new breast implants. However, NO operation is free of complications and this is no exception. If you are willing to accept the potential complications of implant exchange, then go ahead and have the surgery. If you are not, especially in light of having intact implants, then wait until the implants leak. (Be advised that a MRI is a far better tool to detect implant failure than mammogram).

Dr. Peter Aldea

PS - You may also want to wait until the Antique Road Show comes to town and get a second opinion. JUST joking,

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Thirty year old silicone implants: should they be removed.

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In general, I don't feel they should be removed if they are intact. The real question is knowing if they are intact. Although your mammogram provides some reassurance, and MRI is a better test with higher sensitivity.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Only if you want something to change....

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If you like the way your breasts look, there is no reason to have your implants changed out.  If they are not causing you any problems, you don't need new implants.  There are a few reasons to exchange your implants - if they are ruptured, if you have capsular contracture (bad scar tissue formed around the implant), or if you want to change the size.

Antique Silicone Implants - Should I Have Them Removed?

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Well, as you can see there are a variety of opinions on this subject. I would tell you that I am a big believer of the if it is not broken don't try to fix it, however, I have been putting in implants for almost 30 years and I will tell you that your implants are not in the same shape they were in when they were first placed. The older generation implants were not built like the current implants and often rupture. Further the technology we have to determine whether an implant is ruptured or not is really not very good. You would be well served to replace your implants with the current version as there is a very high likelihood they are ruptured or will be ruptured during a mammogram.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Ruptured implants

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30 year old implants are usually not visibly ruptured, but every single one I've visited (in the pocket for one reason or another) I notice that the implant is very oily and the silicone is not visibly ruptured but has lost its turgor.  It has been sweating oily stuff all along.  Your mammogram won't see this.  Your MRI may not even see this (it will see that the implant is ripply and shaped as though it were deflated but it won't demonstrate spillage so many MRI interpreters will simply read it as 'intact').

My suggestion is to remove the implant and place a new 3rd gen implant which is form stable, especially while you're healthy and happy with everything.  I'd consider it a tune up.  The risk is low and if you're happy then you should continue to be happy after you have a new set of implants.


Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 125 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.