Should Breast implants be replaced every 10 years? If not, how often? Is this covered by insurance?
Replace Breast Implants Every 10 Years?
Doctor Answers 32
No Need to Replace Breast Implants at 10 Years if There is No Problem
Thank you for your question. There is a lot of confusion on this topic.
If you are happy with your Breast Implants at 10 years and there are no problems with them, most Plastic Surgeons would not recommend removal.
Problems which can occur and may require removal include:
- Rupture of Breast Implant
- Capsular Contracture or hardening
- Ptosis or sag
- No longer want Implants
Be sure to follow up with your surgeon. Generally Medical Insurance does not cover cosmetic replacement of Breast Implants. Most Implant manufacturers however have a warranty program for their implants.
Breast Implants: Do They Have an Expiration Date?
Many patients are confused as there is lots of misleading information out there...
The truth is, there is no exact "shelf life" or expiration date when it comes to breast implants. It is a common misconception that implants need to be replaced every ten years. I've seen patients whose implants have lasted 20+ years trouble-free, but have also seen patients who have experienced implant leakage after only a few years. If you are not having any problems with your implants, there is no need to replace them no matter how much time has past.
With saline implants, a leak is easily identified, because patients will notice the breast deflating and becoming smaller in size. It is not painful or harmful as the saline (or salt water) is just absorbed by the body. Although not critical to your health, replacement is recommended as soon as possible. Saline implants do not require any special monitoring.
A rupture or leak is a harder to tell with silicone implants. The silicone gel tends to stay in the area of leakage and the volume or size of the implant is maintained. The newer generation of implants do have lower rupture rate than older implants, but detection is still difficult.
The first way to evaluate the silicone breast implant is with a physical examination by your plastic surgeon. Very often the first sign of a leak or rupture is thickening or hardening in the tissues surrounding the implant. Confirming a leak can best be done with an MRI of the breast, as a mammogram is not very good at detecting leakages. With silicone breast implant leakage or rupture, it is recommended that the implant be replaced or removed as soon as possible.
My recommendations for monitoring silicone implants are a yearly physical examination by a plastic surgeon and an MRI every other year.
Do You Need to Replace Breast Implants Every 10 Years
If you are not have any problems with your implants and they are serving you well, there is no need to replace them.
The new gummy bear implants, for which I have added a video for you, are even stronger than the older ones and the chances of them failing are even less than the are with the older generations of breast implants.
I hope that helps.
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Replace Breast Implants after 10 years?
It is not absolutely necessary to replace breast implants after 10 years. If you are happy with the size and position, you may very well keep them in and get many more years of life out of them. Breast Implants don't expire, but eventually the surrounding shell will break. Women who have sagging, asymmetry, positioning problems, pain or hard capsules surrounding the implants may wish to replace the implants sooner. I tell my patients the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
No Need to Replace Implants Every 10 Years
No need to replace implants every ten years.
Implants are not permanent devices. Most things that we place in the body at some point need to be replaced. Having said that, there is not an automatic trigger. If the breasts are soft and in good shape, and the implants are intact, most would leave them alone. Silicone leaks are hard to appreciante clinically, and so an MRI is used for detection.
Breast Implant Longevity
Breast implants are a device that are not meant to last a lifetime. The 10 year mark is actually a time period in which we know from experience that breast implants tend to increase in their failure rate. This is simply because what happens as the implant ages. As it ages, the shell becomes more fragile and has a tendency to fail at a higher rate than when the implant is newer. That is why the idea of replacing the implants every 10 years seems to be so common, but often misunderstood. Of course, an implant can last much more than 10 years. I have seen patients with implants in for 20 years or longer and the implants may be doing just fine, so it varies for each patient.
Your case, however, may have other issues going on. The sensation of air pockets and this rash need to be evaluated. I would recommend going to see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to have them evaluate you and see if the implant is in good condition or if after the 10 year mark, in your case, the implant needs to be replaced. Implants, whether saline or silicone gel, really need to be followed up at almost an annual basis. I have my patients follow up with me yearly to check on the condition of their implant or to see if they are having any other issue associated with their breast implant. It is just a good practice for any woman who has had breast implant surgery to have long-term follow up with her Plastic Surgeon.
When And Why People Replace Breast Implants
Breast implants do NOT expire.
There are many myths surrounding this topic. The myths exist because of medical studies that are misinterpreted in the media.
But I will say it again, breast implants do NOT expire.
If you get breast implants, one of three things can happen:
1) You may get a replacement because you WANT a change
2) You may NEED a replacement because of a complication with your implants
3) You may keep the same implants indefinitely as long as you don’t meet criteria 1 and 2
The myth of the "10 year expiration" came from studies that were done over a 10-year period. The number 10 is a long term follow-up, but in the future we’ll see 15 and 20 year follow ups.
When these studies were interpreted and published for the public (in the media and internet), they did NOT distinguish between women who WANTED to get another procedure, and those who NEEDED one.
Among those who WANTED another procedure, the reasons were varied. Some wanted larger implants. Some breastfed and wanted new implants with a breast lift. Note that getting another procedure done does not mean that they were unhappy with their results. In a 10-year period, your body can change and it's also possible for your preferences to change as well.
Then there were the patients who NEEDED to remove/replace their implant.
Long term, there are two complications that result in a woman needing another procedure. These are capsular contraction and the implant rupturing. (Capsular contracture is most likely to happen within the first year.) These are known and accepted risks of a breast augmentation.
Ten-year studies show that capsular contracture happens at a rate of 2% a year, and rupturing at 1% per year.
There is no way to completely avoid these risks. Some studies suggest that minimizing the chance of bacterial contamination may reduce the chances of capsular contracture.
In my practice, I reduce the chances of bacterial contamination by 1) doing the incision in the inframammary fold (breast crease) because there is higher risk of contamination going through the areola and 2) using what’s called a “Keller Funnel” to insert the implant 3) practicing “no touch technique” in which the surgeon never touches the implant and 4) using antibiotic irrigation to wash the implant pocket.
That said, the risk cannot be eliminated 100%. That's the nature of surgery. It is something you will have to accept if you decide to get a breast augmentation.
If one of these two complications happens--whether in 1 year, 10 years, or 20 years-- you may need a removal/replacement, depending on the severity. If neither complication happens, and you are happy with your implants, there is no need to have another procedure.
I have had consults where patients are concerned that they've had implants for 10 years or more. Have they had either of these two complications? No. I ask them, “Are you still happy with your results?” Yes. In that case, there is no need to do anything.
WHAT TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION
There are benefits and risks to a breast augmentation, like any other surgical procedure. (Most big decisions in life have benefits and risks.) And you also have the alternative of doing nothing.
As a patient, the best you can do is understand and accept this reality, and make a decision based on that.
The key is to ask yourself, "How much do I want this? For me, is it worth the actual cost? Also, is it worth the potential cost in the unfortunate case of a complication?" Those are subjective criteria. They are not facts, but, at the end of the day, it's what it comes down to. It's a very personal decision only you can make.
That said, on RealSelf, 96% of women who have breast augmentations are very happy they did. And, in my experience, they almost always say, "I wish I had done this sooner." The reason for this wish is simple: they love the way they look and feel, and wish that they had experienced this boost in confidence sooner in their lives.
I hope that answers your question on whether breast implants need replacements. It’s great that you’re doing this research. I always say that the best patients are informed patients.
You might also want to research your options for breast implants. Choosing the right implant is the number one concern among women considering breast augmentation. Did you know, there’s actually a way to select a implant shape, size, and profile that is perfect for you?
A term that I use with my patients for the perfect implant is the “Pony Implant”.
So what do I mean by “perfect”? Well, a Pony Implant has three qualities to it. First, the implant meets your beauty goals. For example, you want to your breasts to look fuller while still appearing natural.
Second, when you chose your Pony Implant, you walk out of your consultation 100% confident that you’ve chosen the right shape and size for you. In other words, you won’t be second guessing your decision, and you won’t be afraid of having gone too big or too small.
And third, after your procedure, you are thrilled with your results, and say, "I’m so happy. This is exactly what I wanted!"
That’s the Pony Implant. And the great news is that there is a simple process to go about finding yours.
This issue of selecting the right implant is so important when it comes to patient satisfaction or dissatisfaction that, again, I really encourage you to learn more about it.
Thank you for reading and best of luck on your journey!
Implant Replacement Timeline
Hi HtownShelley, Many people are under the mistaken impression that breast implants need to be replaced every ten years. This is not true. There is no finite time frame for when you have to replace your implants. They do not have an expiration date. As long as you are happy with their appearance, your breasts are soft, and there are no problems with leaks, there is no need to change out your implants. They are by no means, once in a lifetime device, but the most common reason implants are replaced is when a woman wants to change her breast size. Implant manufacturers provide warranties in case of implant rupture. If you want the full guidelines recommended by the FDA you can read at their site, however, the basis for these guidelines are arbitrary at best. I tell my patients to come back yearly for a wellness check, should we detect any issues that require testing like and MRI, we'll order it. And, no, health insurance is not going to cover your implant replacement. This is a voluntary cosmetic procedure you chose to have, it is your responsibility.
Replace Breast Implants Every 10 Years?
Most of the implants, regardless of the shape are filled by cohesive silicone which has the advantage that not migrating even if the the implant is broken. The implant manufacturers do not consider implants as 'lifetime devices' as the possibility exists that over time the outer shell will fail. But over 90 percent of implants outer shell are not failing based on the recent statistics.
So implants only need to be removed if they are broken or if there is an infection.
There are two cases when the implants are need to be replaced - implant capsular rupture or implant migration due to ageing and gravity).
Thus they can be changed when you have some problems appeared with the time, like rupture, or migration, or size, or bottoming out, Not all the patients will need to have more than one surgery, just those who need smth to be improved.
Hope this helps.