Should I have my breast implants removed after 24 years? They are the old silicone they used back then.

I got them because I was born with a birth defect. 6 mon after the surgery, the silicone they used was banned. 6 years ago I was accidentally shot with rat shot, and some of the pellets are lodged inside one. I'm pretty sure it's leaking.

Doctor Answers 13

Should you have implants removed

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If you aren't experiencing any symptoms of capsular contracture,implant rupture or unhappy with your breasts aesthetically, it's not necessary.   

Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Implant removal?

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If the implants are causing problems like you have a rupture or a bad capsule then it is probably a good idea to remove them and exchange them. If they are soft and have no problems, then you do not specifically have to remove them.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Remove breast implants?

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Removing old breast implants can be a difficult decision.  If you have not had any problems with your implants and still enjoy the look and feel of the implants, then by all means keep them.  Some implants last 20-30 years without any problems.  However, here is a list of conditions that one might consider removing implants for:

  • leaking, broken or ruptured implants
  • switching from saline to silicone
  • going larger in size
  • going smaller in size
  • switching from above the muscle to below the muscle
  • switching from below the muscle to above the muscle 
  • relieving capsular contracture (hardening of the implant)
  • re positioning the implant (up, down, side to side)
  • any combination of the above
Saline implant ruptures are easy to diagnose, they will become flat within 24-48 hours of leaking, as they are just like a water balloon. The saline is absorbed by the body and it is not harmful.  Silicone implants are harder to diagnose if ruptured.  Diagnostic studies such as a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI is sometimes needed.  Newer silicone implants do not leak silicone, they are gummy, not liquid-like.  The much older silicone implants (prior to 1992) can and do leak silicone and should be replaced if broken.

Contour deformities caused by implants shifting, weight gain, weight lost, breast feeding, pregnancy, other breast surgeries can also lead to breast implant revision/replacement surgery.

Typically, remove and replace procedures are quick outpatient procedures with fast recovery times.  Much quicker recovery than the original procedure.  If extensive removal of capsules or addition of Alloderm (acellular dermal matrix) is needed, drains may be placed to help with the healing process, and the recovery is longer.

If loose skin is a problem and a breast lift is contemplated, staged procedures might be needed.  Saline implants can be deflated in the office setting to allow the breast skin to redrape, this will determine if a lift procedure is needed.  Silicone implants may need to be removed to allow for an adequate lifting procedure.

Always visit with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with experience in breast surgery to determine what the best approach is for you.

Based on the information presented, I would recommend the following:

Good Luck!

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

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Breast implant and capsulectomy

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seek consultation with a board certified ASAPS plastic surgeon. It appears you have indications for removal based on puncture, probable leakage and firmness. Discuss options of new fifth generation implants that have gummy bear consistency, cannot drip and texturing to prevent displacement and minimize contracture (firmness). Good Luck...

Larry Weinstein, MD
Morristown Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Old implants

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Yes, I would advise removing your old gel implants and the capsule, or scar tissue around them. Your implants may be leaking. I have seen many of my patients with implants 25-30 years that looked great. However, the new implants are much better and don't leak. If you choose to keep them for now, please continue with yearly mammagrams.

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

Implant removal

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Why do you suspect that it's leaking?  Is there a size change or a change in feel?  I would suggest having an exam and possibly some testing such as a mammogram or MRI to determine if the implant is leaking.  If it is, then you should have the implant removed.  If it is determined that the implant is intact and you are experiencing no other problems, then it is not necessary to have it removed.

Camille Cash, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

They are ruptured

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but not necessarily because of the pellets impact, after 24 years all implants are broken; you need replacement or removal.

Alejandro Nogueira, MD
Spain Plastic Surgeon

Is necessary to removed silicone implants based just in how old they are?

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No, if you are not experiencing any problems, the size and shape are still what you like and they are soft, you don't need to have them removed. Research indicates that silicone implants are safe to have for life time unless complications occur.

24 year old silicone implants, should they be removed?

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I have seen many of my patients, who have had their implants for 20-25 years with no problems whatsoever.
However, the new implants on the market are highly superior to the old silicone implants.  The Sientra
Silicone Gel implants are my personal choice because of the highly cohesive gel/shell compatibility.  For
more information, visit the Sientra website. 

Charles A. Wallace, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon

Implant removal

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It sounds as though you have good evidence that your implants are the type that can leak, and there might actually be a leak caused by an injury.  You could explore your treatment options by booking an appointment with a plastic surgeon.  Imaging modalities such as ultrasound and MRI can help determine if your implants are intact.

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.