Most people know that breast implants don’t last forever and will need to be replaced every so often. What most people don’t know, is just how often breast implants need to be revised. Some think that if they get implants, they’ll need to have them replaced every few years. Fortunately, that’s not true.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we get about breast implant revision.
How Often Should Breast Implants Be Replaced?
The first thing to know is that there is no hard and fast expiration date on breast implants.
Most silicone and saline implants are FDA approved for 10-20 years, but this does not mean that you have to get them replaced every 10-20 years. You can safely go beyond these time frames, and most patients only have to have 1-2 replacements in their lifetime. The length of time you can safely go between replacements will depend on the type of implant you receive and your physiology. Your surgeon should discuss the life of your implants with you before your procedure.
A 2011 report from the FDA stated that one out of five women need to have their breast implants replaced after 10 years. This means that ⅘ of women with implants have them for more than 10 years before needing replacement.
How Do I Know if My Implants Need to Be Replaced?
It’s important to know that even though your implants have been approved for a certain amount of time, they may need attention before that time is up. Here are a few signs your implants may need replacement or revision:
Your breasts feel hard. Some people develop capsular contracture, or hardened scar tissue, around one or both implants. This is rare but is an indication that you need to see your surgeon. You may also get hard lumps under the skin around the implant. This is typically calcium deposits/calcification and should be addressed by your surgeon.
An implant rupture is another reason they may need to be replaced, although this is also rare. Between 2% and 12% of patients with silicone implants experience rupturing.
While silicone and saline implants can both rupture, silicone tends to keep its shape and stay in place. Saline, on the other hand, leaks. Since saline is not toxic and will not cause you to feel sick, you may not even realize your implants have ruptured. In fact, most people exhibit no symptoms at all. If your breasts decrease in size, develop hard knots, appear uneven, or you begin to experience pain or tingling, there is a chance your implants have ruptured and you need to make an appointment with your surgeon or GP.
You should also keep an eye out for rippling on the skin around the breasts as that means the implant itself is wrinkled. This is not harmful, but since most people get breast implants with the expectation of larger, smooth breasts, rippling is not ideal.
In addition, as you age, your implants may shift, especially if you have had children. If your implants move position, it is a good idea to have them replaced. Breast implants can also shift if you gain or lose significant amounts of weight.
Last but not least, you may want to trade your current implants for larger or smaller implants in the future. This is a perfectly valid reason to get your implants replaced!