Over time breast implants can change position, begin to show rippling under the skin, and in extreme cases, rupture and deflate. This raises the question how often breast implants need to be replaced. Whether you are experiencing complications like these or have become dissatisfied with the size or shape of your implants, an implant replacement procedure may be the best way to address your concerns.
Many patients are keen to understand the longevity of their implants in order to plan for any future revisions. This article explores the lifespan of breast implants and answers some of the most common queries about revision procedures and having your breast implants replaced.
At the CREO Clinic, our Medical Director, Dr. Omar Tillo, is a specialist in the adjustment and replacement of saline or silicone implants. His skill as a surgeon and his patient-centred approach allow him to create artful alterations to the size and shape of the breasts while always prioritising your safety and well-being during your breast augmentation surgery.
Contact the CREO Clinic today to book an initial consultation with Dr. Tillo and discover how breast implant replacement could benefit you.
Average Lifespan of Breast Implants
Breast implants can be an excellent way to create long-term volume and address asymmetry in the breasts, and the implants themselves do not have a date by which they must be removed. Patients may wish to alter their size or shape over time, which would require a repositioning or replacement implants.
How long implants can be left in place differs from person to person – some women may find replacements necessary after ten years, whereas others may still feel comfortable with them after twenty or even thirty years. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), implants (saline or silicone) generally last around ten years or more.
Signs My Breast Implants Need To Be Replaced
There are many possible reasons you may wish to replace your breast implants. Some of the most common reasons are aesthetic changes, deflation due to rupturing, shifts in the placement of the implant, or capsular contracture – excess production of scar tissue that can give the breast and misshapen look and make it hard to the touch.
Reasons Someone Wants To Replace Their Breast Implants
The long term nature of breast augmentation means that your aesthetic taste can sometimes change, and you may wish to reduce or increase the size of your implants accordingly. As we age, our weight and body shape can also fluctuate – you may wish to adjust the size of your implants to adapt to your changing physique.
Your Breasts Are Beginning To Sag
Women’s breasts can often sag naturally as a result of ageing, as the skin starts to lose its elasticity and the effects of gravity begin to pull the breasts downwards. Implants can start to ‘bottom out’ – i.e. drop below the breast crease – falling lower and lower over time. This is especially true for larger, heavier implants that will create a greater downward pull on lax skin.
Your Implants Have Ruptured Or Deflated
Depending on your implants, it can be difficult to tell if they have ruptured. A silicone implant leaks slowly and can only usually be diagnosed via an MRI or ultrasound scan. On the other hand, rupturing of saline implants will lead to an almost immediate deflation of the implant and rapid decrease of breast size. In general, the rupturing of an implant occurs as a result of some type of sudden impact or pressure on the implant, such as can be sustained during certain sports or a car accident.
Rupturing an implant is not a life-threatening concern, but it is very likely to affect the shape and size of your breasts, and the broken implant will need to be replaced.
Percentage Of Implants Rupturing
Data on the rate of implant rupturing across all breast implants remains difficult to find, and can range between 0.3% and 77% depending on the study. The most modern generation of implants are thought to have rates of rupture between 12-15%.
What is clear is that the longer implants remain in your body, the more likely they are to rupture – capsular contracture, and other failures reportedly become more likely after 10 years and one 2012 study puts the average age for implant rupture at around 10.8 years.
How Do You Know If Your Implants Have Ruptured?
Rupturing of implants can be difficult to spot, but there are some clear signs to look out for that your implants may have ruptured:
- Tenderness and pain in the breasts
- Lumps or swelling in the breasts
- A change in the breasts’ size or shape (rapid deflation over 1-2 days for saline implants)
- Lymph nodes in the armpit enlarged
- A burning sensation in the breasts
Your Implants Have Started To Ripple
Ripples seen on the surface of the skin are the edges and folds of your implants showing through, and are a common complication of breast implants. The rippling may be caused by insufficient breast tissue covering the implant, too large an implant, too small a pocket for the implant to sit inside or under-filled implants.
Rippling can also be a sign that your implants have ruptured. This is particularly the case of silicone implants – ripples may become gradually more visible as your implant loses more gel.
You’ve Developed Capsular Contracture
A ‘capsule’ of scar tissue developing around a breast implant is an expected part of your healing, and typically prevents your implants from slipping from their position. However, for some patients, this scar tissue can begin to contract and harden, sometimes changing the look of your implants and causing some in severe cases.
Capsular contracture has many potential causes, such as oversized implants, your genetics, implant ruptures, and potentially bacteria introduced during your first surgery. Once capsular contracture has been diagnosed, Dr. Tillo can assess the severity of the situation and create a treatment plan to either remove the implants (capsulectomy) or adjust the size of the capsule it sits in (capsulotomy).
You’re Unhappy With The Results Of Your Breast Augmentation
You may be dissatisfied with the results of your initial breast augmentation. This could be because the implants themselves have shifted or become less aesthetically pleasing. When your opinion changes regarding your implants, a personalised plan can be created to revise their shape or size, or remove them permanently, depending on your preference.
Potential Consequences If You Don’t Replace Breast Implants
Some women may feel comfortable with their breast implants for 20-30 years without feeling any need to replace or adjust them. The most common consequences of not replacing implants are rupturing, capsular contracture or changes in the aesthetic of your implants. While all these potential consequences can cause you discomfort, none of them are dangerous.
What Happens To Breast Implants Over Time?
Both saline and silicone gel implants are robust, and generally remain in good condition in the long term. As time passes, the likelihood of certain issues such as rupturing, rippling, displacement or capsular contracture does grow, as the outer shell is not designed to last forever, and can begin to weaken. As your implants age they can become more susceptible to damage through physical trauma such as impacts or exertions of pressure on the implant – this increases the chances of a rupture.
Who’s A Good Candidate For Breast Implant Replacement Surgery?
Anyone hoping to replace implants that have failed, or are no longer aesthetically pleasing can be a good candidate for breast implant replacement. The CREO Clinic does have some important criteria for ideal breast implant replacement candidates:
- Must have a BMI of 30 or below – use our BMI checker to calculate your current BMI
- Must be 18 years of age
- Must be in good physical and psychological health
- Must have realistic expectations of breast implant replacement
Breast Implant Replacement Procedure Overview
In order to replace your breast implants, firstly, general anaesthesia or deep sedation is administered. Then, Dr. Tillo will make an incision along the scar of your previous incision – this is usually in the breast crease – so as to access your implants and carefully remove them. Some or all of the capsules’ scar tissue may also be removed at this point in a process called a capsulectomy. A capsulectomy will lengthen the time of your procedure as the capsule around the implant must be cut, then the implant extracted alongside the capsule.
Your new implant will then be positioned firmly in place, and your incisions closed using dissolvable sutures.
Breast Implant Replacement Surgery Recovery Process
Recovery from breast implant replacement is similar to breast augmentation recovery. It is perfectly normal to experience swelling and inflammation immediately after your surgery, but this should dissipate after a few days. Your compression garment (provided by the clinic) should be worn for at least six weeks post surgery to help reduce any inflammation, and Lymphatic drainage massage can also help to limit swelling. .
Most patients feel able to return to office work and other parts of the daily routine after two weeks, with more strenuous exercise after 4-6 weeks. You should be fully recovered after six weeks.
When Can I Expect To See Results From Breast Implant Replacement Surgery?
If you are replacing a deflated implant, you will see an immediate increase in the volume of your breast after the new implants are inserted. More subtle adjustments may not become clear until you are fully recovered as there will be swelling at the treatment sites that can initially make it difficult to see your results.
Much of this swelling should subside over the first week or two, but it may take around six weeks to fully subside. During this six week period you will need to wear a compression garment – this will keep swelling to a minimum.
Do saline breast implants need to be replaced?
While some patients do keep their breast implants for decades, they rarely last a lifetime. They may need to be replaced because they have ruptured – it is more obvious when saline implants have ruptured because the breast will deflate within 1-2 days. Implants can also become displaced, or you may simply wish to remove or adjust their size or position.
Do silicone breast implants need to be replaced?
Just like saline implants, silicone implants do not necessarily need to be replaced. They can last for decades if there are no complications such as rupturing, displacement, capsular contracture, or aesthetic dissatisfaction on the part of the patient. In general, breast implants are replaced or adjusted between 10-20 years on average, including silicone implants.
Does breast implant replacement hurt?
Breast implant replacement surgery does not hurt as it is performed either under deep sedation or general anaesthetic. You will not be able to feel the surgery in any way while it is happening, but there may be some tenderness and swelling at the treatment sites during the early stages of recovery. Pain relief medication can be prescribed to keep you as comfortable as possible throughout your downtime.
Will there be scars from breast implant replacement surgery?
When performing breast implant replacement, Dr. Tillo will make incisions over the sites of your previous breast implant scars and should be well disguised along the contours of your body (generally hidden along the breast crease). This means that there will be no new scarring as a result of your replacement surgery unless a capsulectomy is necessary – capsule removal may require lengthening of the original incisions. The CREO Clinic can also help to reduce the appearance of scarring through minimally invasive laser scar reduction. It is an effective, straightforward way to decrease scar visibility over the long term.
Contact CREO Clinic To Schedule A Consultation Today
To find out how a breast implant replacement could benefit you, book a consultation with the CREO Clinic today. Dr. Omar Tillo will make an assessment of the changes you want to see in your breast and build a personalised treatment plan to help achieve them. He has performed countless successful breast implant replacements, so you can feel safe in the hands of an experienced cosmetic surgeon.