You may have a friend or close relative who has undergone breast augmentation in the past. Or you may have been thinking about getting one yourself. So you may start to think ahead of time, ‘how long do breast implants last?’, ‘what happens if they leak?’ and ‘what happens to the implants as you age?’ These are all valid questions, and we would like to help you answer them.
How long do breast implants last?
When you have your initial consultation with your plastic surgeon, they would not tell you a time limit for your breast implants! You wouldn’t hear them say, ‘this will only last for ten years’. That would scare you away, right? But honestly, breast implants, like any other material placed into the body, are still considered foreign and would need to be removed and replaced. So, how long do breast implants last? About 10-20 years. Although plastic surgeons claim that breast implants are designed to last a lifetime, no patient ever claimed that their implants lasted more than 20 years. Some even had their breast implants replaced only 5-8 years after their surgery.
What causes breast implants to leak?
There are a lot of reasons why a patient’s breast implants need to be replaced. A lot of conditions affect the integrity of the breast implants, including the patient’s lifestyle, physical activities, overall health, or the type of breast implants placed. These elements affect how the implants look and feel while being inside the body.
What happens to the body when the implants leak?
Breast implants nowadays, whether saline or silicone, are found to be non-toxic to the body. While repair of the breast augmentation procedure is necessary, it is mainly due to its aesthetic nature than a medical one. Some surgeons advise their patients to undergo MRI every three years after the breast augmentation to check their overall health condition, but some women opt to rely on yearly mammograms to check if their breast implants are still intact and not leaking.
What are the signs that replacement of breast implants is necessary?
When it is time to have your breast implants removed, here are the signs that you should look out for.
Hardening of the breasts. Capsular contracture, a complication associated with breast augmentation where scar tissue surrounds the implants, is the main reason why breasts harden and look deformed after years of having breast implants. This condition can be accompanied with pain and tenderness around the breasts and may indicate the need for removal and replacement of the implants.
Breast implants leak. For saline implants, the filling gets reabsorbed by the body and will pose no harm to the patient. Sometimes, the only indication that the implants ruptured is when the breast suddenly or gradually loses its size. For silicone implants, since its composition is thicker, rupture is almost unnoticeable. The silicone filling stays inside the shell and does not oftentimes leak, maintaining the shape and size of your breasts. The signs that a silicone implant ruptured may be associated with pain or tenderness, tingling, swelling, or an obvious change in breast appearance.
Implant rippling or wrinkling. This happens to the breast implants after years of use. It develops wrinkles, and you can feel a rippling sensation every time you touch your breasts.
We should treat breasts implants, though claimed to be designed to last a lifetime, as foreign materials placed in the body to enhance our physical appearance. They are bound to be removed and replaced. The answer to the question ‘how long do breast implants last?’ is still unclear and would depend on a lot of things. We should follow our surgeon’s instructions on how to properly care for them to ensure their longevity.