Think of breast implants like a car or a house. They are not lifetime devices. They are a major investment that may need frequent checkups and repairs, especially several years post-op. But how do you know for sure when to replace breast implants? Below, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daneshmand breaks down common reasons why breast implants need to be replaced.
If you’re interested in undergoing breast augmentation surgery, breast revision surgery, or any other type of breast procedure, you need an experienced plastic surgeon to get the job done. Call 949-359-8397 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Daneshmand at Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute today.
How Long Do Breast Implants Last?
Despite what many people may think, breast implants don’t last forever. Eventually, they need to be removed or replaced. Technically, they don’t just “expire,” but they can rupture, shift, or cause a number of health complications after a certain number of years. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, modern breast implants can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. The chance of breast implant rupture increases by 1% each year after the 10 year mark.
Signs That You Need to Remove or Replace Your Breast Implants
If you’ve had breast implants for a while, you may be wondering if it’s time to get a fresh set. Below, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daneshmand discusses common signs that your implants need to be replaced or removed.
Capsular contracture is one of the most common complications that someone can experience after breast augmentation surgery. In fact, a 2015 study claims that capsular contracture occurs in more than 10% of breast augmentation patients. The majority (75%) of capsular contracture cases happen within 2 years of the breast augmentation surgery.
Capsular contracture is when hardened scar tissue forms around one or both implants. The presence of scar tissue around any foreign medical device in the body is a normal part of the healing process. The body forms this scar tissue in an attempt to protect the rest of the body from the “foreign invader.” The surrounding scar tissue, in small amounts, can be a good thing in that it can keep the breast implant in place.
The scar tissue becomes a problem when it hardens and contracts around the implant. This can cause pain, tightness, and an abnormal breast appearance. There are four grades of capsular contracture, ranging from least severe to most severe. Severe cases of capsular contracture require the plastic surgeon to go back in, remove scar tissue, and replace the implants.
Saline Implant Leakage or Deflation
Saline implants can leak into the breast pocket and deflate over the course of a few days or weeks. The leakage is generally not a threat to overall health because the body absorbs the saline solution.
Saline breast implant ruptures are pretty noticeable because once the implant deflates, the breast will also look deflated. This can make one breast look much larger than the other. Leaking and deflated implants definitely need to be replaced.
Silicone Implant Rupture
Silicone implants can also rupture, especially if they’re several years old. Silicone ruptures are also called “silent ruptures” because many people don’t notice them. This is because silicone is much thicker than saline. So when a silicone implant ruptures, the gel usually stays inside the implant or inside the scar tissue.
At some point, patients may experience the following symptoms from ruptured silicone gel implants:
- Smaller breast size
- One breast is noticeably smaller than the other
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Breast swelling
- Changes in breast sensation
- Hard knots in the breasts
- Numbness, tingling, or burning in the breasts
Visible Implant Rippling
Rippling occurs when the breast implant wrinkles inside the breast pocket. Sometimes, depending on breast tissue thickness and whether the implant is above or below the muscle, you can see the rippling through the skin. Rippled breast implants need to be replaced.
Change in Breast Appearance
Your breasts will not be perky and youthful forever, regardless of whether or not you have implants. Skin stretches with age and weight gain. Nipple size, shape, and direction can also change drastically over the years. At some point, you may notice an uneven appearance in the breasts. To fix this, you could undergo a breast lift and get new implants.
It’s also possible for the breast implants to shift outside of the breast pocket and below the inframammary crease. This is known as a “double bubble,” and it definitely creates an odd-looking breast appearance.
Breast implants can also shift sideways, towards the armpit. No matter what direction the implants shift, Dr. Daneshmand can fix it through breast implant revision surgery.
Breast Implant Illness
Breast implant illness (BII) is an unofficial medical diagnosis that links a variety of bizarre symptoms to breast implants. Symptoms can include musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, cognitive decline, gastrointestinal issues, skin reactions, and so much more.
There is very little research and understanding about BII within the medical community. However, many doctors say that if none of the symptoms can be linked to any other official health condition, then the problem is likely the breast implants. In that case, it’s best for the woman to get the breast implants removed. Most women experience immediate relief from BII symptoms after breast implant removal surgery.
What To Expect With Breast Implant Removal
If you believe that your breast implant complications are caused by a mistake that your plastic surgeon made, it’s best to see another plastic surgeon for the removal process. Regardless of which plastic surgeon you choose though, they will likely start by listening to your concerns and performing a physical exam during your initial consultation. Then, they may recommend the following options:
- Remove the implants
- Remove the implants and perform a breast lift
- Replace the implants and perform a breast lift (if necessary)
- Remove the scar tissue, but leave the implants
Removing breast implants without a breast lift can leave you with saggy, deflated, and asymmetrical breasts. Most plastic surgeons will suggest an implant removal and a breast lift to give you the best results.
Breast implant removal recovery will be similar to your original breast augmentation recovery. You will probably experience pain, tenderness, swelling, and bruising for at least a week. Your surgeon will likely instruct you to take pain medication regularly, wear supportive undergarments, and rest. In about 6 weeks, you’ll be fully recovered and you’ll be able to resume all your normal activities.
What To Expect With Breast Implant Replacement
Your plastic surgeon may recommend an implant replacement by itself or an implant replacement with a breast lift. If necessary, the plastic surgeon may also remove scar tissue in the breast pocket.
You can choose the same shape, size, and type of implants, or you can change the size and change from silicone to saline (or vice versa).
Keep in mind that implant replacement surgery is often much more expensive than removal surgery. In fact, the average cost of implant replacement or revision surgery is $8,200 while the average cost of implant removal surgery is $5,125 according to RealSelf (a site where plastic surgery patients discuss their results and experiences). Of course, these prices can vary significantly depending on your geographic location, your plastic surgeon’s experience, and whether or not you also undergo a breast lift. The best way to get an accurate price tag is to schedule an appointment with your plastic surgeon.
How Can I Make My Breast Implants Last as Long as Possible?
Most women undergo implant removal and revision not because of complications, but because they don’t like how their breasts look anymore. So the best way to make your current implants last as long as possible is to pick a natural size and shape for your body. Additionally, having an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon perform your breast augmentation surgery can also minimize future complications. Lastly, be sure to follow all postoperative guidelines after your initial breast augmentation surgery so that your breasts and body remain as healthy as possible.
Call Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute Today
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daneshmand has more than 30 years of experience in performing all sorts of plastic surgery procedures including breast procedures, face procedures, stomach procedures, and so much more. His goal is to make his patients feel as beautiful and confident as possible in their bodies. He can do the same for you too. Call 949-359-8397 to schedule an initial consultation at Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute today.