When you choose to get breast implants you’re not exactly picking something for a lifetime.
While many women can live happily (without any complications) with their original breast implants for 15, 20, 25+ years it’s not the norm and it’s recognized that breast implants are not considered lifetime devices.
When should I change my breast implants?
If you’ve had your breast implants for a number of years and you’re wondering if you should be exchanging them (changing them for new implants) the answer to this question comes in two parts…
The mileage of saline breast implants
If you have saline implants and you aren’t having any problems with them then you do not need to change them!
One of the major pros of a saline implant is that you have the peace of mind that if your implant ruptures you’re gonna know about it.
If your saline breast implant shell develops a tear, the filling is going to leak, the implant will deflate and that will be super obvious!
So, if you’re living with saline breast implants for many years and you’re happy you don’t need to do anything.
The mileage of silicone breast implants
If you’ve had your silicone breast implants for a long time and you aren’t having any problems you may need to change them.
And here’s why…
If a silicone breast implant shell develops a tear it is much less clear cut than with a saline breast implant.
The FDA and Board Certified plastic surgeons advise women who’ve had silicone implants for a long time to get an MRI to check that their implants are still ok. That’s because any rupture of a silicone breast implant is ‘silent’. As in, you won’t know about it. The silicone gel will stay put if the implant shell develops a small tear thanks to its cohesiveness (how well the silicone gel sticks together inside the implant shell) so it’s not easy to tell if everything is a-okay just from how your breasts look and feel.
If you’re happy with your silicone breast implants and an MRI showed no problems your implants wouldn’t need to be changed.
If, however, the MRI showed a problem with your silicone gel breast implants your Board Certified surgeon would advise having them removed and replaced with new ones.
The internet says….
Rather unhelpfully (I think) there’s a lot of chatter online about having to replace breast implants every 10 years.
This is a total myth!
But the ‘10 years’ bit does come from somewhere.
When the FDA approves breast implants (classed as a ‘medical device’) they have to set certain conditions to ensure they are safe and reliable in the long term. Research studies that have investigated the safety and reliability of silicone breast implants are usually conducted over a 10 year period. Hence the ‘10 years’ bit!
The research data from these 10-year studies shows that the rates of complications (things like implant rupture) does increase over time. Even so, the rates are low (as low as 9% chance of rupture of a silicone gel implant at the 10-year point) which means if every woman changed her implants at the 10-year mark there would be a lot of unnecessary surgeries taking place!
If you are approaching a 10-year boobie anniversary and want peace of mind that your breast implants are okay it’s an idea to check-in with your Board Certified plastic surgeon and, if you have silicone breast implants, consider getting a breast MRI.
The longer you have your breast implants the greater the chance you will develop a complication and need to replace them (i.e. more surgery) BUT the life of your breast implants can’t be predicted and if you’re happy and everything is ok with your breast implants you do not need to replace them every set number of years.