October 17, 2022
Last Updated on October 25, 2022 by Dr. Darren Smith
Are you wondering if it’s time for your breast implants to be replaced? There’s a lot of information online about how often breast implants last. The truth is everyone is different. Some women may never have an issue with their breast implants, while others will need to have them replaced.
Breast implants are not guaranteed to last for the rest of your life. If you have breast implants, you may need revision surgery at some point in your life.
There’s a common misconception that you must replace breast implants every 10 years. While 10 years is a good general rule of thumb to set expectations, this is not a hard and fast rule. There is no need to change your breast implants simply because 10 years have passed since you had them placed. 10 years, however, is a reasonable estimate for the time at which many implants will have an issue requiring replacement.
In many cases, implants are changed for reasons not due to a problem with the implant at all. For example, your desired breast size may change over a period of time. Additionally, you may experience changes in breast shape with age that lead you to seek a breast lift, or “mastopexy”. Implants are often resized for optimal results with this procedure.
How do you know when it’s time to take your breast implants out? While you may want to replace your implants for any number of reasons, the symptoms below are common reasons people seek a breast augmentation revision or implant exchange.
It is normal for the body to form a scar around breast implants. We refer to this scar as the implant “capsule”. In rare cases, this capsule can begin to harden and shrink. This is known as “capsular contracture”. This hard scar tissue, or capsular contracture, can cause cosmetic changes, pain, and tenderness.
Both silicone and saline breast implants can rupture. Implant ruptures happen if there is a tear or hole in the breast implant.
The signs of implant rupture are more evident in saline breast implants. The saline in your implant will leak, and your breast (or breasts) will look drastically smaller. Breaks are harder to catch with silicone implants. The gel usually stays inside the implant’s shell, so most silicone ruptures go unnoticed. For this reason, the FDA recommends those with silicone implants have an MRI of their breasts every few years. However, if you have breast discomfort, changes in appearance,, or your breasts look uneven, you should get checked out by a plastic surgeon.
Sometimes, implants can develop wrinkles or ripples. If you can feel the ripples when you touch your breasts, we say the ripples are “palpable”. In the most extreme cases, you can visibly see the waves through the skin. In some instances, this can be treated with fat grafting. In other cases, an implant exchange may be warranted.
Breast implants can shift positions and look “saggy” as you age, after becoming pregnant, or undergo weight fluctuations. This isn’t dangerous, but you may not like how your breasts look if they change position.
If you’re unhappy with the size of your breast implants, consider going in for revision surgery. It can be hard deciding what size breast implants to get initially. Also, your size preferences may change as you get older. Dr. Smith offers advanced 3D imaging technology to help you select your optimal breast implant size.
Although uncommon, and not yet completely understood, BII may also be a reason to remove your breast implants. Some patients report symptoms that can include fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, dry eyes, respiratory difficulties, depression, and many other health concerns. While there is no standard diagnostic test for breast implant illness, doctors usually rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
Implant replacement surgery means your doctor will switch your existing implants for new ones. Depending on your preferences, the doctor can do the following during your breast implant replacement surgery.
Keep in mind breast implant replacement surgery is different from breast implant removal. Permanent breast implant removal can lead to cosmetic abnormalities like deflation, sagging, or asymmetry in your natural breast tissue, and many patients may opt for a mastopexy, or breast lift , to ensure an optimal cosmetic outcome when having their breast implants removed.
Whether your size preference has changed or you need to change your breast implants for medical reasons, it’s important to take care of your breast implants. We recommend our patients use the tips below to enjoy their breast augmentation for years to come.
Not sure if it’s time to have your breast implants replaced? We can help give you the answers you’re looking for. Book a breast revision consultation at our NYC office today to learn more.