Many people considering a breast augmentation with implants has heard that they have to get their breast implants replaced every ten years…but, is this really true? Is there really an expiration date for breast implants?
Breast Implant Warranty:
Regardless of the manufacturer, most implant companies warranty their breast implants from mechanical failure for ten years. This means that if the breast implant ruptures or leaks, or has any other type of mechanical failure, within ten years of placement, the manufacturer will cover the replacement cost of the implant, and occasionally, help pay for the surgeon, facility, and anesthesia fees associated with replacement. Some newer breast implant manufacturers also warranty their breast implants from capsular contracture for a specific number of years, often two to three years, after placement. Capsular contracture is the formation of excessive, thick scar tissue around one or both breast implants that can lead to pain, implant malposition, and/or breast hardness.
Fortunately, it is easy to tell if a saline breast implant has ruptured. If a saline breast implant has ruptured, the breast will visibly decrease in size over a period of several days to weeks as the saline leaks out of the implant and is absorbed by the body. However, it is not so easy to tell if a silicone breast implant has ruptured. If a silicone breast implant ruptures, silicone does not leak from the implant and get absorbed by the body, as it does a saline implant. Rather, the silicone remains in the breast capsule and often remains inside the breast implant shell. The patient may not have any idea their silicone breast implant has ruptured or they may experience a change in breast shape or firmness. Thus, MRI imaging is necessary to diagnose a silicone breast implant rupture.
It is because of this ten-year warranty that many patients believe they must get their breast implants replaced after ten years. However, Dr. Traci Temmen of the Plastic Surgery Center of Tampa, tells her patients that if after ten years they are still happy and not experiencing any trouble with their breast implants to “leave well enough alone!” There is no medical, surgical, or health reason to replace breast implants ten years after a breast augmentation unless the patient has experienced a rupture, is unhappy with her appearance, or wishes to exchange her breast implants for a specific reason.
Breast Implant Rupture Rate:
Like anything, breast implants do “age” with time. After approximately ten years, the rupture rate for a breast implant is 1% per year. This means that if a breast implant is 15 years old, there is a 15% chance that it will rupture or leak during that year. If a breast implant is 25 years old, there is a 25% chance that it will rupture or leak during that year. Because of this additive risk of rupture, many patients considering a breast lift or other revisionary surgery, will choose to replace their breast implants (even if they are experiencing no trouble with the breast implant itself) at the same time if their breast implants are at least seven to eight years old. While it is not mandatory to replace breast implants during a revisionary surgery, it is recommended if the breast implants are several years old in order to avoid an additional revisionary surgery if the breast implant were to rupture in the future. Fortunately, there is no difference in the rupture rate between saline and silicone breast implants.
When Should You Replace Your Breast Implants?
Still, many patients wonder when they should replace their breast implants. Below are Dr. Temmen’s basic guidelines on when to replace breast implants after an initial breast augmentation surgery:
1. If you have a diagnosed breast implant rupture (and wish to maintain breast volume rather than simply remove the ruptured implant).
2. If you are considering a revisionary breast surgery, such as a breast lift or change in implant position, and your implants are seven or more years old.
3. If you are unhappy with your size and wish to have larger or smaller breast implants.
Other than the reasons above, there is no need to replace breast implants after a certain number of years. If a patient is happy with her breast implants and is experiencing no trouble, there is no need to replace them, regardless of the time from the initial breast augmentation surgery. There are plenty of women with twenty or even thirty-year old breast implants, that have never undergone a revision or replacement, and are perfectly happy with their appearance!
If you have additional questions about replacing your breast implants, or wish to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Traci Temmen, please call the office today: 813-877-3739.