Do All Implants Harden over Time?

After how many years would one start to notice hardening of their breast implants? What factors contribute to hardening?

Doctor Answers 5

Implants do not always harden over time

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Breast implants do not always harden over time. Some patients are able to live a lifetime without hardening or any other need for replacement of the implants. Placing implants sub-muscularly decreases the risk of encapsulation. Consult your surgeon if you experience any firmness or notice any hardening, Massaging the breasts helps prevent capsular contracture and aids in softening the breasts.

On this site, I do my best to give advice without a physical examination but I want you to know that a physical examination by a board certified physician is always the best way to get the most accurate information.

Hard Breasts

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No all implants do not harden. In fact only a small percentage of patients undergoing breast augmentation develop hard breasts or capsular contracture.  Capsular contracture is the development of inelastic or thickened scar tissue around a breast implant making it feel hard. Some patients develop it very early after surgery within the first six months and some many years later. it can affect one or both breast and depending of the degree of hardness surgery may be indicated.

Its cause is not entirely understood. Late development could be cause by a low grade infection. It does seems that with newer surgical techniques and different  implants that the incidence has decreased.

Richard Linderman, MD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon

Vast Majority of Breast Implants Will Remain Soft Over Time

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For the vast majority of women with breast implants, they will remain soft and natural feeling for as long as they are in place.  There are some women who will get capsular contracture around the implant over time, with hardening of the breast itself, but the rates are extremely low these days and most women will never deal with it.  It is impossible to predict who it wil happen to, and alot has to do with surgeon technique, etc., but again, in general, the rates should be less that 5% over time.  I hope this helps.

All implants need to exchanged sooner or later(average 10-15 years)

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If you are looking for a permanent breast implant, the answer is that all implants fail over time. The average life expectancy of the saline and silicone gel implants are 10-15 years . All implants come with manufacture warranty for the first 10 years. The rate of the hardening of the implants is !5-20% .

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

Breast implant hardening

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NO, all breast implants do not harden over time.  In reality, breast implants NEVER harden over time, only the scar around the implants may become more firm.  This condition is called peri-prosthetic fibrosis, or capsular contracture.  The incidence of contracture does increase over time, and contracture was more common with first generation silicone gel implants than it is with contemporary implants.  Data suggests that about 15% of breasts will develop grade 3 or 4 contracture after seven years or more.  Most women who have breast augmentation never develop capsular contracture.  Those who do get contracture may notice hardening as early as several months after their procedure, but more commonly, the presentation is delayed for several years.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 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.