Breast implants are not permanent medical devices and should not be expected to last forever. They can be quite durable and long lasting but given enough time, all will eventually need to be replaced or removed. Many of my patients have the misconception that implants have to be replaced every 10 years whether they are silicone or saline. This is absolutely not true. The silicone implants manufactured today can last up to 20 to 30 years or more. Saline implants on average will have to be replaced sooner. Allergan’s (an implant manufacturer) ongoing prospective Core Study of silicone breast implants noted a rupture rate of 2.7% in 4 years for primary enlargements.
Many factors influence the durability of the implants. Some of these include:
- Type of implant – Saline versus Silicone. Silicone breast implants generally last longer and are more durable compared to saline implants. There are studies that show a 5 – 10 time greater rupture rates of saline implants as compared to silicone implants at various time periods.
- Textured versus smooth implants. In particular, textured saline implants have a noticeably shorter life span when compared to the smooth ones.
- Size of implant. Large implants may not last quite as long as small ones.
- Manufacturer of the implant. There are technological, manufacturing, and proprietary differences between the implant manufacturers that affect the lifespan of the implants. In over 20 years of practice, I have clearly found that significant “brand” differences.
- Surgical technique. A less gentle, more traumatic insertion of the implant can weaken the shell of the implant and predispose it to earlier failure and therefore a shorter lifespan. This can occur in silicone implants by trying to insert a large implant through a very small incision.
- Incision location. A trans-umbilical (belly button) incision can affect the durability of the implant due to the trauma of insertion. Insert large silicone implants through limited sized periareola or transaxillary (armpit) incisions can also be detrimental.
- Trauma. Very high energy impacts such as car accidents can potentially affect the long term durability. I have seen many women over the years who have been involved in serious car accidents without any injury to their implants. Sharp objects that are stuck in the breast can definitely rupture the implants
- Mammograms and frequency. Frequent mammograms, particularly aggressively compressing ones, can weaken the implant envelope.
Breast augmentation is a very rewarding procedure and is associated with an extremely high satisfaction rate. Like many other things in life, (almost) nothing lasts forever and this is true of breast implants as well.
To learn more about breast implants, breast augmentation or other cosmetic surgery, contact Dr. Turkeltaub at 480-451-3000.
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D.
Scottsdale and Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Arizona