Do breast implants last a lifetime?

Do breast implants last a lifetime?

Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation has long-been, and remains, the most popular surgical procedure in the cosmetic industry. For women who would like to enhance their natural bust, implants are the straightforward, effective and long-lasting solution.

However, breast augmentation patients should not expect their implants to last a lifetime. The average implants last around a decade – although they can last longer. There are mainly two reasons why implants require replacement. One reason is capsular contracture which results from the tissue capsule around the implant, which begins to thicken and harden causing firmness in the breast and ultimately pain. The second reason is wear and tear of the implant and a rupture of the shell of the implant. A ruptured implant is sometimes silent, which is why, after several years, patients should return to their initial surgeon for a check.

Beware of the marketing of ‘lifetime breast implants

The term ‘lifetime breast implants’ is very confusing and implies that the implants offered last a lifetime. In fact this is a false statement since no breast implant lasts a lifetime. There are some breast implant manufacturers who offer a ‘lifetime product warranty’. This warranty means that the company which manufactures the implants will replace the implants for free if at any stage in the future should there be a rupture of the implant. This replacement only covers the cost of the implants and not the cost of the surgical fees or hospital fees. Also, you are committed to implants from the same company. This is very different to the claim that the implants last a lifetime.

What are the real figures on how many women have breast implant replacements by 10 years ?

In general, breast implants last for around 10 years. According to research by the FDA, 20% of women who have breast augmentation will have their implants removed or replaced before the 10 year mark for one reason or another. As a result of these figures the US governing body recommends regular scans and check-ups to ensure there are no developing complications.

Do implants need to be replaced every 10 years?

This is a very difficult question to answer, and provided no capsular contracture occurs, it is down to whether the breast implants remain intact. If a scan is performed and demonstrates intact implants there is no reason why the implants have to be replaced at 10 years. However, it is advisable to have subsequent regular checks and scans every year or two to ensure implant integrity. In some situations implants may last 15 years or longer but regular monitoring is essential.

What does a breast implant replacement involve?

A replacement operation involves removing the old implants – usually through an existing scar in the crease under the breast. In certain situations, the lining or capsule around the implant may have to be removed at the same time and this procedure is called a capsulectomy. If a decision is made to use the same size implants, the procedure to replace the implants is straightforward and the incisions are closed. If larger implants are used then the pocket for the implant will have to be made larger.

Other important factors to bear in mind are that when implants have been in place for very many years the breast shape may have changed and the nipples may have dropped. This is common when when women have had implants at a younger age and then have pregnancies. If the nipples are low and the breast is droopy at the time of a breast implant exchange then an uplift will be required at the same time. This involves extra surgery and scars with a longer recovery time.

Choosing breast implants

During your initial surgical consultation, you’ll have a thorough meeting with your plastic surgeon in which you will choose implants. You will be shown prostheses, and will be able to try on a bra with different sized implants in it to see how your new breasts will sit on your body and suit your frame.

As well as choosing size, you’ll be given the opportunity to choose between round or tear-drop shaped implants. Round implants give a more prominent cleavage whereas tear-drop shaped breast implants tend to look more subtle and natural. Your consultation with Mr. Chana will allow you to determine the most appropriate type of implant suited to your expectations.

When you undergo breast implant surgery, you are committing to repeat surgeries in the future, because of the nature of implants and the fact that they don’t last a lifetime. This is something that should be factored into a decision making process – unlike some other surgeries, breast augmentation has a guaranteed requirement of further surgeries in the future, and therefore is not just a big decision but a big commitment.

Consultation

If you are considering breast augmentation surgery, and have thought about it carefully to reach a measured decision, you should not let the fact that they are not ‘forever’ put you off. Changing or removing implants is a fairly straightforward procedure, and many patients happily and successfully have new implants put in.

To discuss the implications of breast implants and the commitment required to the surgery, bring it up during your pre-surgical consultation. Your surgeon will be able to shed more light on the issue – particularly if you visit a breast specialist like Mr. Jag Chana.

For more information on breast augmentation or to book a consultation with Mr. Chana, or if you already have breast implants that you are concerned about, contact Mr. Chana’s clinic directly via phone or email.

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About The Author
Mr. Jag Chana is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon.

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