In the office today, I was asked by a patient if she should change out her breast implants every 10 years.  She told me she read that in a magazine. It’s surprising how many patient will ask me this question because they were either told by a friend, read it somewhere or even had it recommended by a surgeon.

I’m not certain what’s the source of this misconception.  I don’t know where a friend, the media or a surgeon would get this false idea.

However, there are several factors that probably influence this belief. One factor is the fact that anything we buy has a certain “shelf life”. The second is that the implant manufactures have a 10 year warranty (in some form or fashion) associated with saline and silicone gel implants.  I think by combining these two factors we assume that the 10 year warranty must indicate that the implant’s shelf life is 10 years.  Not so!

(It’s important to get a clear understanding of the warranties associated with your implant.  Your warranty will not be the same as your friend since the implant companies continuously change the benefits related to the warranty, especially for saline implants.)

All implants need to be changed out only if they are ruptured.  A ruptured saline implant is the easiest to recognize.  Typically within 24 hour the implanted breast will shrink.  You won’t feel anything.  The breast simply loses volume and get smaller.

Silicone gel rupture are more difficult to recognize since your body will not absorb the silicone gel and therefore the breast will not change in volume.  Usually a ultrasound or MRI are needed to confirm a rupture.  The breast may take on a different shape if the silicone gel implant ruptures but otherwise there is no pain and no loss of volume.  On occasion the breast will start to feel hard due to a capsular contracture after a rupture.

Currently the rupture rate, depending on the studies you read, varies.  Some studies show rupture rates of saline to vary for 0.3% per year to over 1% per year.  Silicone gel rupture rates are still being determined but probably ranges from 2% to 5% over a 5 to 10 year period.  The silicone gel implants of the 70’s, and 80’s had rupture rates of over 40% in a 10 year period, so there is quite and improvement in the current silicone gels.

Before you get your breast implants, understand that all the implants are man-made products and therefore will probably not last a lifetime.  Just like all man-made product there is a cost of maintenance, so there will probably be some cost to maintain the shape of the breast and implants over a long period of time.

The bottom line only change out your implants when there is a rupture.   The is no benefit to you to change them out otherwise.


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