Should I Replace my 20 Yr. Old Silicone Implants?

I currently have 20yr. old Silicone implants (i am 44yrs. old) placed above the muscle. I would like to replace them with the newer implants and go below the muscle. I am currently a 34C and happy but would like to be a tad bit larger. I have gone for mamograms and have had no problem and my doctor said, if they are fine, leave them alone...... I just don't want to be forced to have to have them removed and then replaced....

Doctor Answers 17

Whether to Replace 20 year old Silicone Implants...

Hi there-

There are many women in your position, and I can tell you that it is very difficult to think that there is an absolutely "right" answer for all women...

The right thing to do will depend on your goals and comfort level with having surgery, as well as with the possibility of your current implants causing nuisance problems down the road if you don't do anything about them until a problem is more obvious.

With your implants being 20 years old, we know that the likelihood of them being ruptured (even though this has not been detectable on mammograms you have had so far) is very high. While we also know that if the silicone escapes the scar tissue your body has created around the implants (the capsule) there is no reason to be concerned that your health will suffer, we also believe that this might cause issues with later interpretation of mammograms and in extreme cases, may even allow migration of the silicone under your skin to distant areas...

Again, none of these things is dangerous to you- but I bet you'd like to avoid them.

Especially if you are already confident that your current implants are no longer making you happy and you would like to be larger, I would agree that managing them before you have a definite problem is the smart thing to do.

Bottom line- if you were my sister, wife, or mother, I would recommend you have them replaced.

Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 159 reviews

Most Older silicone implants HAVE been replaced

While it sounds like you have no problems with your current implants the real issue is could you have had a "Silent Rupture?"  What is that?  It is a break in the outer membrane of these implants that doesn't cause any symptoms and is hard to detect.  The inner gel, when exposed to the scar tissue (capsule) around the old implant isn't toxic and you could live with it without really knowing anything had happened.  But why bother to find out if that has taken place yet, or will happen soon to you.

The best time to replace old implants is BEFORE they break!  I have personally removed lots and lots of these older style implants that served a patient well for thirty years or more but when the pocket was opened they were indeed ruptured.  With no symptoms, all you can do then is take this advice.  Your surgeon will have a harder time fixing your ruptured implants some day than if you get them exchanged now unruptured.

Consider what a twenty year old car is like next to a new one.  There was no navigation system.  Rarely did they have climate control.  There were no run-flat tires. The technology has increased exponentially.

So has the technology in the newer silicone implants.  These I suspect will last easily twenty years, or more, even with vigorous use!

I will say it one more time.  Do your surgeon a favor and exchange them when you are not having symptoms.  He will thank me for this since simply exchanging your old for new implants is easy.  And you will thank me because now you can go slightly larger like you have wanted to do probably for a long time.

I am still amazed to find patients with these older implants who have no strong feelings about taking them out. Just when I thought plastic surgeons had removed them all I meet someone just like you.  So in the end we haven't taken them all out yet, I guess

Phillip C. Haeck, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Should I Replace my 20 Yr. Old Silicone Implants?Answer:

When and how to replace your older implants is a discussion that deserves a lot of attention, since there are so many options...But with normal mammograms and no problems, it sounds like you have time to find a doctor that you like....And is sounds like you have gotten plenty of mileage out of the ones you have!!!

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Replacement of silicone implants

If there is no change in size or position I would leave tings if everything is good. If you want to change the size and position as long as you are comfortable with the risks ,it is a common procedure.

Jay M. Pensler, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Replacement of old implants

You may not be having any problems but your implants may still benefit from replacement since they are near there expected lifetime.   I would recommend an MRI to note any chance of rupture.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

20 year old breast implants

If you are concerned about your implants then I would reccommend getting an MRI,  this is the best option to determine whether they are leaking are not.  If they are leaking then it is best to replace them.  Twenty year old implants have a high leakage rate ,  some brands more than others.  They newer style implants are certainly an improvement over the old ones.  They are filled with a more cohesive gel, in other words the gel is very thick, like Jell-o.  They are also warrantied for life and most manufacturers will pay for the replacement surgery if it happens in the first 10 years.  Whatever you do don't rush your decision, get the facts from a couple of board certified plastic surgeons and then make the best decision for yourself.

Robert M. Jensen, MD
Medford Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Breast implant replacement

Your body has changed significantly during the past 20 years, and you are correct in assuming that implants have a finite life span. If you want new implants, slightly larger, sub muscular, you should have them!

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Replacing Implants

If you are not having any problems with your implants, then you do not need to replace them.  However, if you to go larger, then the procedure can most likely be done through your original incision.  If you post pictures, we may be able to give you more specific advice.


Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Replacing your silicone implants

Thank you for your question.

If you are happy with your current situation and are not having problems with your breast implants, you do not need to change them. IF you would prefer to change the position (behind the muscle) and size (go larger), then exchanging your implants will help you achieve your goals.

An MRI will let you know if they are leaking or not and that may help you with your decision.  Take your time and meet with board certified plastic surgeons with experience in revisionary breast surgery.

Best Wishes!

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Old Silicone implants

i always say "if it ain't broke, don't fix them!"  But if there have been issues with the implants and MRI would give some answers.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 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.