I read a on this site where someone said they had to get their implants re-done 20-some years later. I thought that getting breast implants was a one-time thing...is there an "expiration date" on breast implants? How long do breast implants last?
Breast Implants - How Long Should They Last?
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Doctor Answers 23
Breast Implants are Not Forever...
Although breast implants are safer and more durable than years past, they may not last forever. Depending upon what age you have your implants placed, you may expect to have at least another surgery in your lifetime. They are a medical device and, unfortunately, medical devices can fail.
While failure of your pacemaker may be life-threatening, failure of your implants is not and is very easy to fix. The surgery generally involves opening up your original incision, removing the defective implant, washing the pocket with antibiotic solution, and replacing with a new implant. A straightforward procedure such as this may take as little as 30-60 minutes and be associated with almost no downtime. Following surgery, most patients are back to their normal routine within 24-48 hours and report very little discomfort.
As for detecting an implant rupture, this may be a little less straightforward. Saline implants, when they fail, are generally very easy to spot. One breast suddenly looks deflated and mishapen in contrast to the other side. Gel implant ruptures are not so simple. They may be associated with a moderate change in the appearance of the affected breast or can even look very normal. This is why you may have heard of "silent ruptures". In cases where a rupture is suspected but not confirmed, an ultrasound or MRI examination may be used to make the diagnosis.
Breast implants do not last a lifetime
Breast implants will not last a lifetime, but there is no expiration date, either. For every 2 years that you have a saline implant there is a 3% chance of rupture. For silicone implants the risk of rupture is about 1% for every 2 years. So, in both situations the risk slowly increases with time. In each case, the shell weakens over time due to wear and tear and eventually develops cracks. This is why both companies in the U.S. provide warrantees for their implants.
Breast Implant Longevity
Breast implants are not "permanent" devices and do fail over time. This failure may happen in the first couple of years or after several decades. In the last 20 years, implant manufacturing has improved significantly and we are seeing lower rates of rupture than for the implants of the 1980's. As important as the implant rupturing is the changes that occur with your breasts over time. Many women seek revision surgery not for implant failure, but for changes in shape, feel, or position of the implants. A thorough discussion of these types of changes and the possibility for future surgery is essential when you visit with your plastic surgeon.
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Is there an expiration date on breast implants?
There is no reason to think that implants will "expire" at a certain date after their manufacture.
It is true, however, that breast implants should never be thought of as permanent devices- in other words, sooner or later you will need to have them replaced, or to have something else done to maintain the result of your breast surgery. The average lifespan of the modern implants is somewhere between 10 and 20 years- but as mentioned in other posts, both major manufacturers have lifetime warranties on their implants.
Age of breast implants
I've had some patients come to me up to 20 years out after breast augmentation with their original silicone implants in place and not having any issues with them. They aren't designed to last for life, in fact, I usually tell patients that in 10 or 15 years they're going to want to lift, tighten or enlarge thier current breasts.
The longevity is well worth the price of the implant.
Breast implant longevity
While there is no "expiration date" associated with breast implants, every material thing in life, as far as I know, has the potential to fail. Breast implants can rupture over time, and this can happen at various times in the lifespan of the implant. I have seen implants fail after a year, and others over 30 years old be fine.
Actually, there are many reasons women come back for further surgery following breast augmentation. You may want a different size, or your breast tissue may change with pregnancy or weight loss necessitating a revision. You should go into your breast augmentation decision with the understanding that further surgery may be required, but this should not deter you- all of my patients understand this and seem pleased with their decision for breast enhancement!
Breast implants do not last forever
Breast implants made by Mentor and Allergan, the two companies approved by the FDA, are made with strict manufacturing standards. However, no implant lasts forever. Eventually either the valve (in case of saline implant) or the shell (for both saline and silicone implants) will "give away".
Both companies have a life time warranty if the implant should fail. There is no way to predict when any implant will fail. However, the rate of leakage will increase with time.
Breast Implant Durability
Breast implants are medical devices manufactured with extremely high quality standards to maintain durability for many years. But like any man-made device, implants can and do fail for a small percentage of women who have undergone breast augmentation. The majority of women who have breast enlargement enjoy their implants for many years, and a significant number will choose based on personal preference to have their implants replaced with a different implant type (switching from saline to silicone gel, for instance) or different size long before any issues of implant rupture or failure develop.
While implant rupture can be a cosmetic concern and will require a revision surgery procedure, women considering their implant options today should keep in mind that there is no evidence linking implant rupture to safety concerns. Extensive studies of currently-available silicone gel and saline implants have been performed, and the safety profile of silicone gel implants was strong enough for them to receive U.S. FDA marketing approval nearly 3 years ago.
Another aspect of breast implant longevity is a woman's own care of her implants. While breast implants are extremely durable, it is important to follow your surgeon's instructions for long-term care after surgery. For instance, the FDA recommends periodic MRI screening for women who choose silicone gel implants to detect ruptures.
The Lifespan of Breast Implants
Longevity of Breast implants
They do not have an expiration date once implanted but there are FDA recommendations for surveillance and potential replacement every 13 years. That said, most people do not replace them like a regular maintainance schedule and there are no ill effects. There are no artificial devices (knees, hips, ports or Breast Implants) that last forever. The expiration date on a sealed box is more related to a implant sitting on the shelf in a sterile packaging.
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.