Integrity of 10 year old gel implants and itchy breasts. Do they break down over time?

As I get older it seems I have become allergic to more things. Is it possible these 10 year old implants are causing the itching?Does the shell of the implant expose,or shed chemicals into the body over time? I want explant surgery! Would insurance cover en bloc explant surgery?

Doctor Answers 4

Breast implant removal, gel leakage, and allergies.

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Implants can both leak and bleed gel over time. A leak follows a rupture of the implant shell. The shell typically ruptures from folding over time or from abrupt trauma. Gel bleed is a phenomenon where the liquid silicone inside the implant passes through solid shell of the implant due to the size discrepancy of the molecules. It appears as though the gel "bleeds" through the shell without a true hole in the shell. The newer generation implants have much less bleed due to the thicker consistency of the liquid gel (which is the type you most likely have). As for being allergic? It's not impossible, but it is unlikely. Numerous studies have put to rest the concerns regarding silicone gel and it's effects on the body. Regardless, if these are concerns for you have your implants removed. Some insurance companies will cover removal of the implants and the capsules (scar tissue) depending on the plan. Contact your insurance company first to see if you have this coverage.  

Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Ten year old implants - are they causing my allergies?

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Thank you for asking about your ten year old implants.

  • If you are concerned about your implants, you can definitely have them removed.
  • You should consider having a small, vertical lift at the same time to reshape your breasts or they will be flat, wide and a little saggy.
  • Insurance will not in my experience cover implant removal or capsulectomy and is usually specifically excluded on policies.
  • The best way to be sure is to contact your insurer.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Integrity of 10 year old gel implants and itchy breasts. Do they break down over time?

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Sounds like Breast Implant Illness syndrome? Explant with attempted full capsulectomies and fat grafting is NOT covered by insurance to any acceptable $$s. Fees range from $8,000 to $15,000. 

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Most insurance companies will not cover removal of intact implants since they were done for cosmetic reasons. Today's shell remains stable over time and the gel does not leak like the old gel implants of the '70's and '80's did. Your itching to be completely unrelated to your implants. However, I sure you can find a plastic surgeon to remove your implants if you wish.

Connie Hiers, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 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.