Length of Time Breast Implants Last?

I have had implants since 1984 and have not had any problems. Should I be concerned because of the length of time?

Doctor Answers 48

Longevity of Breast Implants

All implants have a life span of about 10-15 years. Over time, breast implants can do one of three things, 1. implants can get hard, 2. it can break down and may have some granulome reactions if they are silicone gels, or 3. they can remain natural.

In general, as implants age they tend to break down or get harder. The prudent rule is at 10 years one should get both an ultrasound or mammogram together or a breast MRI to rule out breast implant ruptures. If you have any symptoms such as asymmetry, or contracture hardness please see a plastic surgeon and discuss removal and replacement. This applies to both saline and silicone implants. Saline implants are somewhat different because if they are broken or rupture, you will know immediately.

The most important aspect is to be followed annually by your plastic surgeon.

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Do not replace saline implants if there are no problems!!

No one knows how long saline breast implants last. We do know that they are man made devices and are not expected to last a lifetime. It is "urban myth" and "street legend" that perfectly good implants should be replaced every 10 years. You should only replace saline implants when there is a problem; such as deflation, wrinkling, or capsular contractures.

Since the original silicone implant moratorium in 1992, we have maintained very careful follow up of our breast implant patients .Since 1992,  I have placed over 4,000 saline implants in patients and have had only 17 implants deflate! The shortest deflation was 4 months after surgery and the longest was 12 years after surgery. All implants between 13 and 18 years old are still in our patients!

The bottom line is: if you electively replace a perfectly good saline implant because of implant age, you may remove an implant that was destined to last 20 or more years and replace it with an implant with a 4 month lifetime. I strongly advise my patients not to remove perfectly good implants.

Richard L. Dolsky, MD (retired)
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

How long do breast implants last

You only need to change your implants if you have a problem.  You can go indefinitely with your breast implants.  Most patients will have a second surgery because they want to change the size, or change to silicone, or experience a complication (such as a rupture or capsular contracture). The deflation rate of a saline implant at ten years is about 10%. The deflation/rupture rate of a silicone implant at seven years is about 3-4%.

You can be fortunate and go 20 or 30 years with your implants. However if you are unlucky, you can experience a rupture within a year or two of surgery.  Implants have a warranty which helps cover some of the surgical costs should you experience an implant rupture.

Overall, you should expect to have more than one surgery in your lifetime if you have breast augmentation.

Please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon for more information.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 377 reviews

Breast Implants

I hear this question all the time....and I guess I am a dissenting opinion from the previous threads. Breast implants do not "last a lifetime". They are an implanted medical device, similar to a prosthetic knee replacement or a heart valve. Although they do not have the intricate moving parts that these prostheses do, their "shells" do experience fold flaw from continuous bending back and forth over the years. This is similar to a paper-clip breaking when it is bent...

That said, current implant technology is fantastic and most patients will not experience issues with their implants. No, you do not need to change implants every 10 years or 10,000 miles....just not true! But, historically, and looking at the history and judging the numbers there is a possibility that a patient will need some type of implant related surgery over her life-time.

If you are not having any problems....Fantastic! Make sure you do your routine self-breast exams, see your primary doctor for yearly breast evaluations and undergo radiographic assessments as well.

Hope this help!


Dr. C

John Philip Connors III, MD, FACS
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Your Plastic Surgeon is not like Jiffy-Lube.

In other words, you don’t have to replace your implants every 3,000 miles. We get this question a lot because
many people are under the mistaken impression that breast implants need to be replaced every five years, seven years, ten years etc. This is not true. Basically, if you are not having any problems with your implants, there is no need to replace them.

In case you’re wondering, the most common reason implants are replaced is when a woman wants to change her size.

For answers to these and other questions about breast augmentation, check out the new eBook my office staff just published called "A Girlfriend's Guide to Breast Augmentation". It is 33-pages of everything you need to know plus some fun stuff thrown in.

David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

How Long Do Implants Last?

Implants don't have an expiration date!

If you are not having problems, you need replace your implants.

Most plastic surgeons no longer recommend routine replacement of silicone gel-filled implants. For many years, we recommended consideration of replacement of silicone gel implants every 10 years. This guideline was based on reoperation for all reasons including capsule contracture, size change, lumps, bumps, etc.

If you wish to verify the integrity of your implants, start with a visit to your plastic surgeon. After examining you, your surgeon can prescribe an ultrasound or scan, if further study seems appropriate.

I hope this is helpful!

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Implant longevity

With many of the original formulations of the implant shells (which are silicone regardless of whether you have silicone implants or saline implants) the quoted amount of time was an average of 10-15 years.

This number was based on reoperation rates and it is important to remember that these re-operation rates included all reasons. Indications for reoperation for patients with breast implants include:

1. capsular contracture or scar tissue forming around the breast
2. undesireable appearance of the breast implants - patient wishes to be larger, smaller or does not want implants anymore
3. implant rupture or leak
4. implant infection

Implant rupture is only one of several reasons that people have revision surgery.

The new implant shell formulations probably last longer than older shells but many of the other reasons that people have surgery still contribute to that average of patients having revision surgery every 10-15 years.

I hope this helps.

Steven H. Williams, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

No immediate concern, but time for f/u with a plastic surgeon

There is probably no reason for concern. Breast implants do not need to be repalced at a certain time. They may last 10 or 30 years. As long as you are happy with the shape and softness you can wait.

Having said that, and knowing that they have been in for almost 25 years, I would meet with your origianl surgeon if he/she are in your location or start to meet and find a surgeon you would be comforatble with. The odds are over the next few years the device will fail. Most commonly device failures do not casue any problems and many times are found on incidently on routine mammograpy.

John E. Gross, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

If they aren't broken, don't replace them.

I have seen a patient with 34 year old saline implants. If she had followed the "urban myth" that they need to be exchanged every 10 years she would have had 4 sets by now but only needed the first ones. If you are happy with the look, size, and feel of your implants and if they are intact, leave them alone. With saline you know obviously if they are intact. With silicone gel, mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs can determine the status.

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

No News Is Good News?

For many patients, breast implants provide years of trouble-free satisfaction. It is not unusual to find patients who have had their breast implants for ten, fifteen, or even twenty or more years, with no apparent problems.

However, breast implants are mechanical devices which cannot be expected to last forever. Most manufacturers now warranty the implants for ten years, although this does not imply that implants will wear out sometime thereafter.

In some cases, in spite of everything seeming normal, there may be "silent" rupture of the implant. In the case of silicone gel implants, there is no loss of volume of the breast when the outer shell of the implant breaks, since the silicone gel is not absorbed by the body, and generally stays contained within the scar tissue capsule of the breast. In thise cases, the breast may feel "mushy", without the ability to feel the implant moving as a distinct mass, and the diagnosis of rupture can be made by MRI examination. Implant rupture of this nature is generally related in a linear fashion to the age of the implant, becoming increasingly likely as the age of the implant increases.

Breast Augmentation patients should have routine breast examinations by their plastic surgeons, and should have mammograms done annually as per the recommendations of the American Cancer Society.

So, although no news may be good news, patients with older breast implants should not neglect routine breast examinations and mammoagraphy, even if there are no apparent problems.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 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.