Is an MRI Really Necessary Every 3 Years After a Gel Breast Implant Augmentation?

I don't like the thought of getting an MRI that often. It seems more like a cautionary piece of advice on the part of the implant manufacturer.

Doctor Answers 5

MRI after implants

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The FDA has made recommendations for patients that have received silicone implants to have MRI's starting 3 years after surgery and every 2 years after that so that silent ruptures can be picked up. I think that because of the expense, many patients will not get them.

MRI After Breast Augmentation

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The recommendation for MRI examination following silicone gel breast augmentation is an FDA decision and not one that originates from the implant manufacturers.  When the FDA approved silicone gel implants for cosmetic use in 2006 they suggested women have an MRI exam beginning 3 years following surgery and then every 2 years after that in an effort to detect ruptures of the implant that might otherwise go undetected.  This has been a subject of much debate but as of now this recommendation is still in force and, therefore, plastic surgeons are obligated to inform patients.  Whether you act on that advice is, of course, up to you.

Screening MRI after Silicone Gel Breast Augmentation

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When the FDA approved silicone gel implants for breast augmentation in November 2006, one of the recommendataions made was that women obtain an MRI 3 years after augmenation and then every 2 years after that.  The purpose is to try an detect a "silent rupture", one that would not be noticed by the patient or detectable by their doctor. 

"Post approval" implant studies are presently continuing, and the latest information from those studies is available on the FDA's website.

The cost of breast implant screening MRIs has been decreasing, and I believe they can be obtained (in Houston) for approximately $500.

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Is an MRI Really Necessary Every 3 Years After a Gel Breast Implant Augmentation?

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This is an FDA recommendation, based upon the fact that small leaks of gel implants were not diagnosed by physical exam. 

Unknown is whether there is any benefit from learning about a small leak. My friends who are radiologists tell me they see very few screening MRI's for silicone gel implant patients but many screening mammograms, so it seems very few patients follow these recommendations. The studies can cost in the neighborhood of $2000. It is hard to see where this is cost effective. 

Thanks for your question, best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Silicone implants and MRI

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It is recommended by the FDA to obtain MRI every 3 years to check for possible leakage of silicone implants. It is not a mandate only a recommendation. You should also see you plastic surgeon every year for ans exam of the implants. It is difficult to find early implant rupture by exam alone. That is why FDA recommended MRI exams. It is up to you to decide if you want to have the MRI performed. Until we have more data I would follow the FDA recommendations.

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