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Do Breast Implants Have a Lifespan?

Whether it’s feeling better about the way they look in certain outfits or improving overall self-esteem, there’s no doubt that breast surgery can be transformative for many women. One of the questions most frequently asked by people who have had or are considering breast surgery is: “What is the lifespan of breast implants?” St. Louis’ West County Plastic Surgeons offers various cosmetic breast surgery techniques, including breast augmentation, with volume added by silicone- or saline-filled devices. The physicians explain that while implants are long-lasting devices, they should be periodically checked for signs of rupture or failure as they get older.

Patients can expect their silicone or saline device to do its job, worry free, for at least 10 to 15 years. After about a decade, regular checks should be scheduled. This is because the chances of a rupture go up about 1 percent every year for the lifetime of the implant. After 10 years, there is a roughly 10 percent chance of failure.

This means that patients should expect to replace an implant at some point in their lifetime. Maintaining an open line of communication with a board-certified plastic surgeon and following all implant-related advice and recommendations is critical.

In light of recent technological advances in breast augmentation—such as new implants with multiple shell layers—the risk of rupture is actually very low in general. Common signs that it may be time to replace your implants include discomfort or pain, tenderness, tightness, and visual changes to the breast, such as rippling (which can indicate a change in how full an implant is) or shape (which can indicate the implant’s rotation or a shift in position).

Pain may indicate that hardened scar tissue has formed around one or both of the implants. While this is not a symptom limited to ruptures, it can cause visual changes, too, as the pocket holding the implant can squeeze the device out of its original shape.

When a saline implant does leak, women may not immediately notice any difference, but the breast will likely change drastically and rapidly over the course of a few days. While the sterile saltwater solution poses no health threat, the size and shape of the cup will be significantly altered due to the shrinking implant.

Silicone gel ruptures are less obvious, since the filler material is not an easily-flowing liquid, but common symptoms to watch for are decreased breast size, pain, tenderness, and swelling. The FDA encourages silicone implant owners to get regular MRI screenings.

Following decades of research and industry-changing innovations, modern implants are safer now than they’ve ever been. That said, each patient’s situation is different: Depending on the size, shape, and type of filler, no two breast implant recipients may have the exact same experience.

The West County Plastic Surgeons team provides breast surgery for patients in St. Louis and the surrounding region. To discover more about breast implants, call (314) 996-8800 or schedule a consultation online.

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