How Long Before Silicone Implants Risk Leakage?

How long can you leave silicone breast implants in before they risk leakage?  Mine are 13 years old and I'm worried that they may start to leak soon.

Doctor Answers 16

Silicone Implants: Longevity, Rupture, and Lifespan of a breast implant

Silicone breast implants are likely to rupture after 10 to 15 years. The outer silicone shell begins to wear and may also break open to expose the implant. Folds in the implant or thickened capsular contracture may decrease the timing to implant rupture. If this occurs, the silicone breast implants are removed from the breast and exchanged with newer implants.

Thus, the lifespan of an implant is not finite.

There are several modalities to detect breast implant rupture, including MRI, Ultrasound, and even mammogram.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Gel implants might last forever, but maybe not...

If you have 13 year old gel implants, you might have ones with a memory gel, that is a more cohesive gel than the old silicone gel implants had. These should have less risk of gel leakage that could leave the implant and get into the tissue.

You could get a breast MRI to evaluate them and meet with your plastic surgeon. But don't feel like a time bomb just because 13 years have passed. You might be one of the lucky ones whose implants will never have a problem.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Should Only Change Implants If There is a Problem

Breast implants are not considered to be lifetime devices. As a result, you should expect to have them replaced some time after you get them - but only if you have a problem. If you experience pain or a change in appearance then you should see your surgeon or doctor to make sure they're still okay. Early detection is key here.

Although some people believe that breast implants have a 10 year lifespan, this isn't actually true. As mentioned, you only need to replace them if you have a problem with them.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

How to diagnose a leaking gel implant

If your silicone gel implant is not giving you any problems then it does not need to be replaced.  If your implant was made after 2009 it is constructed from cohesive gel which tends to clump together.  You would need some type of diagnostic study to determine if the implant is leaking such as a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. 

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Silicone implants leaking?

Silicone implants rupture approximately 1% per year. So I tell my patients that they can expect to have a leakage risk of 20% in one or the other breast after 10 years.

Arian Mowlavi, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

When WILL Silicone gel filled Breast Implants Leak

All man-made devices fail (IE cars, roofs, airplanes etc); The ONLY question is when.

The most commonly cited number is 10-15 years, does not really help you and has given rise to the urban myth that implants "must" be exchanged, the way you would change the oil in your car (not at 3,000 miles), every 15 years.

And yet. All of us have seen implants that failed much earlier than 10 years (not common) and women with apparent intact implants at 25 years (not rare).

I would NOT adopt a "sky is falling" attitude about the implants because they MAY already be ruptured or remain intact for a lot more years.

If you need peace of mind - get a MRI and it will tell you their status. If you are not bothered by them or the shape of the breasts, I would leave it alone.

Finally, if you had to have surgery to lift the breasts, owing to the age of the implants, I would advise changing the implants at that time. Otherwise, I would leave them alone.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Silicone breast implants leak

The data on this is not straightforward. It varies depending on whether or not the implant is used for augmentation or reconstruction and which manufacturer it is. At 6 years for augmentation one study showed a leak rate of about 1% and another was higher. It also depends on what exact generation of implants you have. They have been modified several times.

In general, I tell my patients with older implants, such as yours, that as they approach 10 years (and you are at 13), I would consider exchanging them. It is a lot easier to exchange them before they leak. However, different plastic surgeons have different opinions about this.

Also, you might be a candidate for the style 410 implants, which are available through surgeons participating in an FDA study. The early results show much lower leak rates with these implants. Hope this helps.

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Leakage of breast implants

The incidence of breast implant , silicone, leakage is very small. It is recommended that you be examined by your plastic surgeon on a yealy basis.

Mammogram or MRI can pick up leaking implants. Most of the leaking implants are intracapsular and is contained by the scar around the implant. The older generation of implants have more frequency of leaking. Cohesive gel implants have less chance of leaking.

If you are concerned have your Plastic Surgeon examine you, a mammogram or MRI will put your mind at ease, and continue to enjoy the results of your surgery

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Silicone breast implants risk of leakage is very low

The risk of leakage is very low, Recent studies suggest a 0.5% risk in the first 3 years.  Older implants have a higher risk, and therefore if you are concerned that there is something wrong with your implants, then an MRI would delineate a leakage.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Risk of silicone breast implants leaking is less than 1% per year.


In New York City, we recommend that women who had breast augmentation with silicone breast implants have an MRI of the breasts every 3 years.  The MRI will pick up a "silent" leak.  Because one of your implants could be ruptured and you would not know it.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 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.