American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Will your breast implants last a lifetime?

breast implant lifespan

Deciding to have breast implants is a major decision. It is an investment designed to help you achieve the feminine curves you desire, often helping to boost your self-image. That said, you should not plan to have your breast implants for an entire lifetime.

Breast implants do not last forever, and there are many reasons why women will choose to have their implants removed, usually anywhere from 10 to 20 years after their initial surgery. Before making the decision to have implants, your plastic surgeon will go over how to care for your implants and the necessary checkups you should attend to help your implants last longer.

The average lifespan of breast implants

Breast augmentation is an effective way to enhance the appearance of your breasts. While generally safe and designed to be long-lasting, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that implants are not considered to be "lifetime devices."

On average, today's implants are designed to last more than a decade, with the chance of rupture increasing by one percent each year. So, the older your implants are, the greater your risk of rupture or other complications.

In many cases, breast implants can remain in good shape for 20 years or more. Every patient is different, and the life of your implants will depend on your body and how you take care of your implants.

Reasons for breast implant removal or replacement

There are several different complications that can affect how long breast implants last and when you need to replace your implants. These can include:

  • Breast Hardening or Capsular Contracture: This occurs when scar tissue hardens around one or both implants. This scar tissue can cause tightness in the breasts, pain, tenderness and changes in breast size and shape.
  • Saline Implant Rupture: When a saline implant ruptures, it will deflate quickly like a balloon. Due to a hole or tear in the implant, saline will leak out and be harmlessly absorbed by the surrounding tissue. As the saline leaks, the breast will lose size and shape, eventually looking dramatically different than the other breast. The risk of a saline leak is rare in the first few years, but the risk increases by one percent every year.
  • Silicone Rupture: Often referred to as a "silent rupture," a silicone breast implant rupture is quite different. Silicone implants have a thick silicone gel inside that often stays within the implant or surrounding tissue even in the event of an implant rupture. Because of this, it is often difficult to tell when a silicone implant ruptures. You may notice reduced breast size, uneven appearance, or changes in breast sensation, such as tingling, swelling, burning or numbness.
  • Rippling: In some cases, implants can develop wrinkles or ripples. You may be able to feel these ripples and, in extreme cases, the ripples may be noticeable through the skin.
  • Changes in Position: While breast implants can change your appearance, they cannot stop the aging process. As you age, gravity will still take its toll and you may develop breast sagging. Extreme changes in weight can also contribute to position changes. When this occurs, you may consider a breast lift or implant replacement in order to return your breasts to the desired appearance.
  • Personal Choice: Some women want to change up the appearance of their breasts sometime after their initial surgery. This may mean a revision surgery with larger or smaller implants, or even the removal of the implants entirely.

Replacing or removing your breast implants

You have a few options for breast implant removal. You and your plastic surgeon can decide on simply removing the implants, removing the implants while also performing a breast lift, removing the implants and hardened scar tissue that has formed or an implant replacement with or without a breast lift.

Your plastic surgeon will discuss your options based on your goals, anatomy, and existing breast implants in order to help you choose what will work best for your desired results.

Proper care of implants helps prolong the lifespan

Proper care for your breast implants can help to improve their longevity, and this care begins during your breast augmentation recovery. For example, your plastic surgeon will advise you to wear a support garment or surgical bra during recovery. If you do not follow these guidelines, the lack of support can lead to increased sagging over time.

You should always follow your plastic surgeon's guidelines for annual checkups, as well as performing regular self-checks. If you have silicone implants, the FDA recommends getting an MRI 5-6 years after the initial surgery and then every 2-3 years after that. Taking proper care of your implants can help you extend the life of your new look and give you more time before you are likely to require breast implant replacement.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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