How long do breast implants last?

In Ottawa

By Dr. Howard Silverman

Choosing to undergo breast augmentation is a big decision and one that comes along with many questions as you consider your options. This procedure is a life-changing commitment, so it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we’re asked is “how long do breast implants last?” 

Most patients are looking for a precise answer—a date to mark on their calendars—but the truth is it’s not quite that simple. How long breast implants last depends on several individual factors including the type of implant (silicone implants typically last longer than saline implants, for example), the skill and experience of your plastic surgeon, and the effects of natural wear and tear over time. 

Most plastic surgeons will tell you that without complications or trauma to the breast, you can expect your implants to last at least ten years, but for many women they last much longer. On average, in our experience saline implants will typically last 10-15 years, and silicone gel implants will last 20-25 years. The most important thing to know is that Dr. Silverman or Dr. Boyd will always be available to ensure your safety and satisfaction.

When should you have your breast implants removed or replaced?

That being said, there are some scenarios—most of them quite uncommon—that would require removal or replacement of your breast implants. These include:  

Patient preference.  

The most common reason breast implants are removed is actually due to patient preference. As time passes, physical ideals and patient lifestyles change, and many patients choose to increase or decrease the size of their original implants. 

Rupture or breakage. 

Implant rupture or breakage is eventually expected at some point during the lifetime of the implant, and when this does occur, the implant(s) in question will need to be replaced. With saline implants, breakage will be more obvious as the implant (sometimes gradually, over several days or weeks) deflates; your body will safely absorb any leakage. The rupture of a silicone implant may be harder to detect since today’s silicone implants hold their shape even if damage occurs (however, the silicone does not typically leak or migrate outside of the breast capsule!), so periodic exams and/or scans are important, especially if you’ve experienced trauma or a change to the breast. It’s important to know that in either case, your health is not at risk.

Capsular contracture. 

Some women develop excess scar tissue around the implant after surgery, which can make the breast hard or distort its shape. This is known as capsular contracture, and in cases where it does occur, can usually be corrected surgically.  Removal of the implant is only very rarely required.  Capsular contracture is not commonly seen in our practice.

Wrinkling or rippling. 

Wrinkling or “rippling” is a cosmetic concern that occurs when the implant wrinkles within the breast pocket and can be seen or felt through the skin. This is most commonly seen in women with very little breast or soft tissue coverage, and in implants placed above the chest muscle.  Though not dangerous, surgical correction may be indicated. 

Breast pain, swelling, or lumps. 

If you are experiencing breast pain, sudden swelling or lumps within the breasts related to your implants, it’s important that you see your doctor as soon as possible to examine the cause.

For most, breast augmentation is an extremely safe and successful procedure that helps patients rediscover their confidence and feel like the best version of themselves. Dr. Silverman and Dr. Boyd will be with you every step of the way to ensure you are satisfied with your final results for years to come. If you’re interested in learning more about breast augmentation, we encourage you to schedule a consultation today.

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