Are you a woman considering breast augmentation surgery and wondering how long breast implants will last? Or do you want to know when it is time to replace your breast implants? Just as there are a wide range of body types, as well as countless combinations of implant features, there are a variety of factors that impact the lifespan of a breast implant. Below we will discuss some of the different types of implants, as well as the elements that impact how long breast implants last.
Types of Breast Implants
More than ever, women have a wide variety of options for breast implant surgery. Different types of breast implants offer unique qualities and features allowing a woman, under the guidance of her surgeon, to decide which implant best suits her goals and desires.
Saline Breast Implants
Saline breast implants consists of an outer silicone shell filled with a sterile salt water called saline. One unique feature of saline breast implants is that the surgeon can achieve the desired aesthetic volume for your breast by adjusting the amount of saline in the implant at the time of surgical placement. Consequently, this allows the surgeon to work within a smaller incision, customizing the saline fill level for optimal results. Saline implants tend to be firmer, and of a rounder shape, than natural breast tissue.
Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants are currently the most common implant type utilized in breast augmentation surgery. Patients often describe silicone breast implants as the most soft and natural feeling. The interior gel of a silicone implant tends to stay intact, maintaining the breast’s shape, even in the rare case of implant rupture. Because of this, some medical surveillance may be necessary over the years to reassure that the silicone implants remain intact.
Gummy Bear or Stable Form Implants
Gummy bear breast implants are also known as form stable implants. The term “gummy” refers to the consistency of the gel inside these implants. Gummy bear implants tend to be thicker than regular silicone implants. Because of the increased consistency of the interior gel, gummy bear breast implants may feel a little firmer. Additionally, they may be better able to maintain shape in some circumstances. These implants tend to perform well over time and last a bit longer than standard silicone gel implants.
Average Lifespan for Breast Implants
On average, breast implants last 10 years depending on the type and placement of the implant. Therefore, breast implant revision surgery may occur after 10 years, depending on the reasons for replacement. The natural aging process, pregnancy, and weight fluctuations can impact the cosmetic look and projection of the breast. For this reason, some women seek to replace breast implants sooner, to optimize their aesthetic result and look their best.
How Long Do Saline Breast Implants Last?
Like most implant types, saline implants are long-lasting with 90% of implants still intact after 10 years. When a saline implant ruptures, there is a noticeable deflation of the breast volume that can occur. In this case, saline implant replacement may be necessary. These cases notwithstanding, saline implants can last for many years.
A woman may seek to replace saline implants if she desires a change in look, size or feel of the breasts. Simply put, changes that occur to the breasts and body over time may prompt a woman to replace her implants. A qualified plastic surgeon offers invaluable input to achieve the optimal aesthetic outcomes for saline and all implants.
How Long Do Silicone Breast Implants Last?
Like saline implants, silicone implants have many long-lasting qualities. Improvements over the years in materials have led to decreased likelihood of implant rupture. However, it is important to note that silicone implants require regular surveillance to confirm that the implant shell remains intact. Ruptures of silicone implants can be “silent” in that the implant retains its size and shape, and the woman is unaware of the rupture. Therefore, undergoing regular imaging is important to screen for implant rupture. In cases of rupture, silicone implant replacement should occur.
Changes in implant position or breast shape may necessitate breast implant removal or exchange. In these rare cases, a woman notices a physical difference in the look and feel of her breast, possibly noting hardening of the tissues. If detected, a visit to a plastic surgeon can address possible capsular contracture and options for treatment.
On average, silicone implants also last a decade, but again, there may be women who keep them much longer and those who replace them much earlier. Factors such as changes in the implant or body changes, prompt some women to replace their breast implants sooner. Moreover, a woman may simply prefer a new size or implant type and decide to undergo breast implant replacement surgery.
How Long Do Gummy Bear Breast Implants Last?
Gummy bear breast implants are relatively newer to the cosmetic market. Some surgeons refer to them as fifth generation silicone implants. Indeed, these implants appear to be sturdier that earlier types and may last longer than the typical silicone implant. Emerging research shows fewer needed revisions when using gummy bear implants.
However, the same principles apply as with other implant types. In cases of implant rupture, or physical changes, a woman may need to replace gummy bear implants to achieve her best aesthetic outcome. There are no hard and fast rules about any type of implant replacement. Implant status coupled with personal preference and physical presentation all factor into this personal decision.
What Are Implant Removal Options?
If a woman decides that she would like her breast implants removed or replaced, any qualified plastic surgeon can perform the procedure. It does not need to be the same surgeon who did the first surgery. A thorough physical exam, coupled with an in-depth discussion on goals, will help the surgeon and patient proceed with the next best steps. Certainly, there are many options for a woman who decides she would like her implants removed.
Breast Implant Exchange
During breast implant exchange, the surgeon exchanges the implant for a newer model or different type. Likewise, a woman may decide to alter the size or shape of the breast at this time. While every woman is different, many women describe implant exchange recovery as easier than their initial surgery. Because the pocket for the implant has already been in place, the exchange process may feel less invasive. Of course, there will still be a period of post-operative discomfort and healing, but the recovery may be shorter.
Sometimes with surgical implant removal, a woman undergoes a simultaneous breast lift to improve her aesthetic result. With removal of the implants, breast tissue may sag, point downward, or leave dimpling skin behind. A breast lift can rejuvenate the area, smoothing the contour, and yield a more pleasing cosmetic result.
When exchanging implants for a similar or smaller size, some women also opt for a lift. Depending on the new implant’s positioning and type, a breast lift may offer the best results for a rejuvenated appearance.
Implant Removal with Auto Augmentation Fat Transfer
When a woman has her breast implants removed and not replaced, the surgeon may recommend auto augmentation fat transfer to achieve an improved cosmetic result. In this procedure, the surgeon transfers fat from a different area of the body, to the breasts. In fact, this transfer works to increase the natural volume of the breast without an implant.
Important to realize, auto augmentation fat transfer works best for women who desire a modest increase in breast size, and those who already have a good shape and skin tone to their breasts. If a patient seeks a more significant increase in volume, or has sagging breasts, revision and augmentation with implants is usually the more indicated procedure.
En Bloc Capsulotomy for Breast Implant Illness
In general, breast implants are a common and safe medical device. In rare cases a woman may develop breast implant illness, a condition not yet widely understood by medical researchers. This occurs when a woman’s body has a strong reaction to the breast implant and develops systemic complaints such as pain, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, or other symptoms. In these cases, most women opt for implant removal and a procedure known as en bloc capsulotomy.
The capsule surrounding any implant contains scar tissue, which is a normal occurrence. En bloc capsulotomy is complete removal of the breast implant as well as the capsule. In cases of suspected implant rupture, en bloc capsulotomy is the best way to ensure complete removal of the implant and materials. Furthermore, some women decide to undergo breast lift or an auto augmentation procedure after en bloc capsulotomy to restore some breast volume and improve breast projection.
Removal and Exchange of Textured Silicone Implants for BIA-ALCL
BIA-ALCL is a rare type of lymphoma that can develop around breast implants. Most often, this disease occurs in patients who have textured implants. To clarify, BIA-ALCL is not a breast cancer but a disease of the immune system. Some women who develop BIA-ALCL experience breast enlargement, pain, rash, swelling, a lump in the region or asymmetry.
Women with these symptoms should see their physician for evaluation. In some cases, even without symptoms, a woman may opt for removal of textured implants and possible implant exchange.
In any event, your plastic surgeon is the resource for any cosmetic options that will meet your personal goals and desires for your breasts. When removing or replacing implants, your surgeon can discuss all alternatives to consider, crafting the best plan for your situation.
Initial Consultation to Answer Questions
If you are considering removing or replacing your breast implants in Arizona, the first step is to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Ashley Howarth at our Paradise Valley office. Expertly trained and highly skilled, Dr. Howarth will perform an in-depth physical evaluation, review your medical history, and spend ample time listening to any concerns or questions you may have. Additionally, you will have time to meet with our financial coordinator and discuss related costs for any procedures. Based on your physical presentation and your goals, Dr. Howarth can make excellent recommendations for you during your first visit.
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ashley Howarth
Dr. Ashley Howarth, a leading female plastic surgeon in Scottsdale, AZ, prides herself on obsession to detail and outstanding results for breast enhancement surgery. Under her expert care, a carefully designed plastic surgery plan will bring you closer your personal goals. If you are considering breast enhancement or revision surgery, Dr. Ashley Howarth can assist you through the process in a caring, compassionate manner.