A breast implant’s lifespan is a topic that should be on your mind if you are considering either breast augmentation or breast reconstruction. You may have these questions:
- How long do breast implants last?
- How often do breast implants need to be replaced?
- What happens to breast implants over time?
- Do breast implants sag or ripple?
Before deciding to have breast implants, you should know that implants do not last forever, and their average lifespan is about 10-15 years. However, the life of your implants will depend to a great extent on your body type and how you take care of your implants. The great news is you can help your implants to last longer by attending necessary and regular checkups.
Why do breast implants need to be replaced or removed?
Many different complications can affect how long breast implants last and when you should remove or replace your implants. These complications are as follows:
Capsular Contracture/ Breast Hardening:
In case scar tissue hardens around one or both implants, this problem occurs. The scar tissue can cause tightness, pain and tenderness in the breasts. Also, it can lead to changes in breast size and shape.
Rupture of Saline Implant:
Whenever a saline implant ruptures, it will deflate immediately (imagine a balloon). Because of forming a hole or tear in the implant structure, saline will leak out quickly, and the surrounding tissues will absorb it. The breast will lose size and shape by leaking out saline, eventually looking dramatically different from the other breast. The risk of a saline leak is almost rare in the first few years, but the risk progresses by one per cent each year.
Rupture of Silicone Implant:
Silicone breast implant rupture is often referred to as a silent rupture. There is a thick silicone gel inside the silicone implants, and it usually stays within the implant or surrounding tissue even if implant rupture happens. Because of this matter, it is sometimes difficult to tell precisely when a silicone implant rupture occurs. You may notice uneven appearance, reduced breast size, or even changes in breast sensation.
Implants can develop ripples or wrinkles. You may feel these ripples, and, in severe cases, the ripples may be evident through the skin.
Changes in Position:
As you age, you may develop breast sagging due to the gravity effect. Extreme weight changes can also lead to position changes. When this happens, you may consider undergoing breast lift treatment or implant replacement to enhance the appearance of your breasts.
Proper care of implants helps lengthen the lifespan.
Surprisingly, proper care of breast implants helps to extend their lifespan. This care starts by following the guidelines provided by your plastic surgeon during your breast augmentation recovery.
For instance, your plastic surgeon will recommend you to wear a surgical bra or a support garment during recovery. This advice is because of the fact that the lack of support can lead to improved sagging over time.
You should also follow your plastic surgeon’s guidelines for annual checkups, as well as conducting regular self-checks. If you have silicone implants, you should get an MRI three years after your surgery and then getting an MRI every two years after that, based on the FDA recommendation.
What happens if I don’t replace my breast implants?
As we mentioned above, you do not have to replace or remove your breast implants unless they rupture or develop capsular contracture. But what occurs if they rupture and you do not replace them? If you do not remove your ruptured silicone implant, the silicone can lead to inflammation, pain, or scar tissue development (i.e., capsular contracture).
Do insurance companies cover the removal of ruptured breast implants?
Some insurance companies will cover the removal of a ruptured silicone breast implant. However, saline implants are less clear-cut, and insurance generally will not cover removing a ruptured saline implant. This is because ruptured saline implants do not cause problems. But we still recommend you remove the implants if they are ruptured.