Breast Implants Need Long-Term Care

While breast augmentation with breast implants may seem like a permanent solution to improving the look of your breasts, the truth of the matter is that this is not a one-and-done type of procedure.

While the recent scare of defective implants from the French firm, Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), has brought breast implant safety to our attention, there are certainly other reasons to consider ongoing care and maintenance of your breast implants.

Because your body will naturally produce scar tissue around the implant (as it would with any foreign object), this additional tissue can crowd the implant or even constrict it, making it hard or changing its shape. Your plastic surgeon can surgically remove this scar tissue and reposition your implants.

Three years after your breast augmentation with silicone implants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests getting an MRI to ensure everything remains in good order (you won't be able tell if silicone ruptures the way you can with saline), and repeat this MRI (in addition to your recommended mammograms) every two years.

Saline implants are more susceptible to leakage or draining the longer you have them. If you suspect a leak, contact your physician immediately for a replacement.

And remember, breast implants can change due to aging, hormones or weight fluctuations, so having regular visits with your plastic surgeon are essential. And you may need to have your implants replaced once, or even twice, during your lifetime, depending on your age when you first get them.

Have you had to replace your implants? If so, after how many years?

Related Links:
Are Your Breast Implants Safe?
How to Avoid Unnatural-Looking Breasts

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Comments
  • MsZoey
    Posted on

    I have had my saline implants for 20 years. have had no issues and I am very active. I have noticed within the past month, that on the left breast about the 10 oclock spot,, I had abit of pain, none to touch, hard to describe, doesn't hurt alot, but noticeable,, than I had the same on the other breast. I am 59 yrs young,, and gravity is doing it's part,, is this some sort of pull that I am feeling. The first side that was doing this has stopped and now the other just started. I do a mammogram every year,, I am do in February

  • Lil Red
    Posted on

    I received my saline implants in 2008, i was n love extra with myself. Lol now 6 years later, they are saggin. Im so self contious so i always wear a bra. Is it to soon to hav them replaced? I scheduled an appointment to see my surgeon 2 weeks frm now

  • ABanks
    Posted on

    I had saline implants for 5 yrs and asked the Dr. not to cut anything other than the nipple. One deflated and I had to have them replaced. The only compensation I received from manufacturer was $1,500 although I asked for other compensation. I had them replaced with Silicone and this time the Dr. performed a lift so it left terrible scarring. I think about him every time my bra comes off and wished I hadn't done it. My breasts have fallen a little and the scarring upsets me. I got implants after my second child and thought it would be a good option, but to the contrary. I have tried vitamin E and other gels to minimize the look of the scarring without any luck. I'm actually thinking of going bigger just so I can eliminate the visibility of the scarring. I'll have to find a better Dr. The only reason I would go back to this yahoo is because he won't charge me for the revision. I just don't know that finding another Dr would give me better results.

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    Hi, I had saline implants in 1996, right ruptured and had replaced 1998, with 250cc saline. I have had these implants almost 16 years, I have had 2 children, no change in size of breasts but the second pregnancy breasts got very large, but later deflated. My left breast has completely deflated to an A and my right to a B. I want to replace these implants with silicone implants but I would like some advice as I have seen a few surgeons and I am not sure of what size of implant. I am now 39 years old, I am 5tf 8 tall and weight 123 lbs, I will not be having anymore children, how to decide what size of implant would me the right choice ?

  • Lulu2
    Posted on

    I have has euro silicone gel implants in almost a year now. they have dropped incredibly and don't seem as big as they used to be. when I lay on my back to sleep I feel them drop under the muscle and into my armpit area. I also had my nipples removed for the implants to be inserted. I am really unhappy with the stretching of the nipple and the scarring around the nipple area. is there something you can recommend that I can do to fix this?

  • Ginger
    Posted on

    I had saline implants 13 years ago i am 38 with no children. Im only 5'1 the surgeon placed 600cc in one and 620cc in the other due to i had absolutley no breast tissue "they had to create a breast cavity?" they are so big and cause back problems. My GYN , and friends always compliment the feel and how natural they look. yet i WANT to go smaller, they are heavy and cant find the right tops and dresses to fit in a classy manor. with all the skin streched would i have to have a lift if i have smaller implants?

  • wonderingk
    Posted on

    I had my saline implants for 5 years. I was wondering whet I can do to keep my breasted in place. I feel like they are falling ( sagging) I want them to stay firm and in place

  • wonderingk
    Posted on

    I had my saline implants for 5 years. I was wondering whet I can do to keep my breasted in place. I feel like they are falling ( sagging) I want them to stay firm and in place

  • MacKenzie
    Posted on

    Hi. I am 48. I had breast augmentation in 1993. I had to have saline as silicone had been taken off the market at the time. Three years later one of the implants deflated and was replaced. In 2005 I experienced another deflated implant and decided to replace both implants. In 2007 I was diagnosed with stage IIIA breast cancer. I opted for a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. And now a few weeks ago that same breast implant deflated. Was it a result of the radiation treatment or just bad luck? All of my sisters (4) have silicone implants and have never had any problems. Several have had them over 20-25 years. What is the problem? Is my body rejecting the implants, is it a case of under filling instead of over filling or is just the simple it the fact I have that saline implants and they just aren't as durable? I am seriously questioning replacing them with silicon/e but just don't know what to do.

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    I am 49 yrs. and have had saline implants since I was 45. I had my last child at 36 and wished I had done this sooner. Ladies.....don't wait....do ASAP, you will be so happy you did! My doctor told me to put my hands on my breasts and rotate them counter clockwise and the other way 10x per day....I hope they last forever, but will replace if need be.

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    I had Silicone implants done in 1979 and they lasted for 20 years exactly, when they did my Mammogram they found that both had ruptured and they had built up scare tissue and were very hard, so I was happy to have them replaced, I went back with Silicone( I was under a 5 year study) and so far they are still doing great! I will have them replaced again if needed, because I love them, it was the best thing I have ever done for myself!!

  • S. K.
    Posted on

    I am finally going to need to replace my implants. I got my implants 25 years ago after the birth of my 2nd child. The past year, I have noticed that one of my breasts has slowly deflated, so I am thinking that I have a small leak. My breasts have remained soft, are not incapsulated. I have had a long run with these girls, but I'm afraid it's about time for a trade-in. I'm looking to replace...but I still love silicone. They look and feel more natural!

  • 32doubleAtoD
    Posted on

    When I had my saline implants put in, 10 years ago, my surgeon said that he had never had to replace any, saline or silicone (I'm knocking wood now!). Also, he said that the risk of capsular contracture was pretty slim & didn't think I'd need to do exercises to prevent it. I haven't had a problem at all. A good massage therapist can help break up any scar tissue that you might have. Rub with shea butter to prevent stretch marks if you're going up more than a cup size. I love my implants -- and my husband does too! I wish they were squishier, like silicone, but am glad I won't have to worry about autoimmune diseases. If you're flat, like I was, plus disfigured from a lumpectomy, it will give you a real femininity boost.

  • Kiwi
    Posted on

    I have had silicone implants for 4 years now. I have had no issues with them at all and have not regreted having them done. I would not consider having them replaced, personally. Nor do I know of anyone who has had to do this. The self-condfidence is well worth it. I highly recommend the procedure, however, do your homework on who you chose to do the procedure. Consult a number of plastic surgeons. I have seen some poor results.

  • Samantha
    Posted on

    Thank you Dr. Stevens! I'm so relieved to hear that and truly appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions!

  • Leslie Stevens Anonymous
    Posted on

    Samantha, Rippling is a commonly seen disadvantage of saline implants. It has nothing to do with you wearing the wrong bra and everything to do with the thickness of soft tissue between your skin and the implant. Typically with thin atrophic skin and a lean chest one is more prone to rippling both palpable and visible. These are usually more pronounce with a saline implants than with silicone gel filled implants. Don't worry, just because you have rippling does not mean you are destined to have a deflation of your implants.

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Dear Samantha, Wrinkling or rippling is a commonly seen disadvantage of saline implants. It has nothing to do with you wearing the wrong bra but everything to do with the thickness and quality of soft tissue between ones skin surface and the implant itself. Patients with thin, atrophic skin that are lean will be more prone to experiencing wrinkling and it is typically more pronounced with saline implants compared to silicone gel. Just because you have rippling does not mean you are more destined to a deflation.

  • Samantha
    Posted on

    I had saline implants placed about 3 years ago but I recently noticed them rippling (very noticeably on the lower inside areas) after having just worked out (running). Could this be a problem with the implant itself or could it simply be that I'm wearing the wrong sports bra? I would like to know before something terrible happens like deflating! Dr. Chopra or Dr. Stevens.. any input/advice on this?

  • Jennn
    Posted on

    Thanks doctors for posting your feedback! Very helpful.

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Great feedback, gentlemen! It is good to hear that there is greater surgeon confidence with the newer-generation implants.

  • Leslie Stevens Anonymous
    Posted on

    My patients often ask me, " is it time to exchange my implants?" What I tell them is the old adage; " if it ain't broke , don't fix it." This rather simplistic saying pretty much sums it up. With everything else being equal, ( no contracture, no implant migration, no discomfort) and one is happy with their appearance, leave them alone. A leaking saline implant will declare itself and begin to deflate. You do not need a plastic surgeon to make that diagnosis. This happens in approximately 5% of saline implants over ten years. On the other hand, a silicone implant can have a leak that goes undetected, this is called a "silent rupture" because the patient generally has no symptoms or signs of a leakage with silicone filled implants. If one is concerned about a silent rupture, I recommend a MRI every three to five years just to set my patients at ease. Please know that if a saline implant deflates or a silicone implant ruptures, they are guaranteed by the manufacturer and you will be given a new implant at no cost plus up to $2,400 for the surgery. Most implant exchange operations are quick with minimal to no post operative pain and have a short recovery time.

  • Posted on

    Informative article on breast implant maintenance. Interestingly, many people quote data that are based upon older models of implants. Truly with the new or 4th generation implants there is no set rule to change them out at any specific time, its not like your cars tires. Generally I tell my patients that if there is no change in shape, no pain, or no contracture of the breats the implants can stay in forever. It is always advisable to stay in contact with your plastic surgeon, monitor your breast/implants with mammograms and MRI to monitor and prevent any complications. Hope this helps.

  • B
    Posted on

    Usually every 10 years or so, according to my surgeon.

  • CuriousKate
    Posted on

    I'm considering implants. I haven't really yet though about their maintenance. At what point do implants usually require replacement?