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Will Breast Implants Last A Lifetime?

What Are Breast Implants?

Breast implants are a great option for women who want to enhance their breast size, improve breast shape, or create flattering body proportions. Breast augmentation improves self-confidence, fixes breast asymmetry, and can improve breast appearance after pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the effects of age. Choosing to undergo breast surgery is a major life decision that every woman should feel well-informed about before deciding if it’s right for them.

Breast implants do not last forever. However, many FDA-approved implant options can last for ten to twenty years. The two main options for breast implants are silicone and saline. Saline implants are the safest type of implant but do not give the most natural look or feel. Silicone implants are still extremely safe and provide a more natural look to the breasts. The newest type of implant, the “Gummy Bear” implant, is a silicone implant with an adhesive gel preventing the silicone from leaking into the body if the implant ruptures.

The Average Lifespan of Breast Implants

The average lifespan of breast implants is around ten to twenty years. In rare cases, some women can have implants for over twenty years. It’s common for many women to have replacement surgery around the ten-year mark due to wanting to improve their implants or complications with the implants. However, breast implants do not have an expiration date. As long as there are no complications and a woman is happy with her implants, she can keep them as long as she would like. It’s important to maintain yearly visits with your surgeon to ensure the implants are still in good condition.

Signs You Need Replacement Implants

Most women don’t experience complications with breast augmentation and keep them for ten to twenty years before needing a replacement. Most replacements are done to get ahead of any complications that could arise. However, there are signs you may need an implant replacement.

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture, or “breast hardening,” occurs when scar tissue hardens around the implants. This can cause various issues, including tightness, breast pain, and tenderness. It can also cause the implant to move higher on the chest or become asymmetrical.

Implant Rupture

Both saline and silicone implants can sometimes rupture. When a saline implant ruptures, the saline will immediately deflate, alerting the woman to the rupture. The change in breast size will be drastic and noticeable. Sometimes it happens all at once, like a balloon pop, or sometimes it happens over the course of a few days, like a balloon deflating. When a silicone implant ruptures, it won’t be as noticeable as when a saline implant ruptures. However, women may feel a slight burning in their breasts, indicating silicone rupture. Any rupture of breast implants will require an implant replacement.   

Rippling

Rippling is when an implant develops wrinkles or “ripples” below the skin. This can occur from weight loss, scarring, or volume loss with saline implants. Many women can also feel the rippling and may want to have an implant replacement to correct the look and feel of the breast.

Implant Malposition

Implant malposition occurs due to gravity, age, loss of skin elasticity, or weight changes. Breast implants begin to move and shift as a woman ages and can settle in less-than-ideal spots. They can settle in the bottom of the breast tissue, which is the most common area for implants to settle with time. They can also settle on the sides of the breasts or higher up on the breasts. Typically, this is a result of capsular contracture. If any of this occurs, many women will want an implant replacement, as the placement can be uncomfortable and look unnatural.

Prolonging The Lifespan of Implants

You can prolong the lifespan of your implants by following a few rules and recommendations. First, follow your surgeon’s post-op recovery rules. The cosmetic surgeon will have you wear a surgical bra to help with the swelling and healing process. You should not exercise, sleep on your chest, or raise your arms above your head while you heal.

After the recovery period, there are a few ways to maintain the longevity of your implants. It’s important to wear bras that fit and support your breasts. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach or sides, don’t smoke, maintain a healthy weight, avoid any weight on the breast area, and maintain follow-up appointments with your cosmetic surgeon to ensure your breast implants are in good condition.

Conclusion

While implants won’t last a lifetime, implant replacement surgery is beneficial for aiding any issues that arise with implants and time. However, there are ways to ensure your implants remain in good condition for a long time, by wearing supportive bras, maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, and protecting your implants from harsh impact. The best way to promote implant longevity is to work with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and follow all post-op and implant instructions.  

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