When Is It Time to Replace Breast Implants?

Whether you’ve had breast implants for many years or are just considering getting them, you may be surprised to learn that breast implants aren’t meant to last forever and may eventually need to be replaced. Though not every implant will fail or require replacement, many do, and it’s important that patients understand why implants may need replacement prior to getting their first procedure. This can help patients make a more informed decision and help them understand how to reduce the risk of needing new implants down the road.

Why do women need new implants?

Implants can fail for many reasons. Some can rupture either due to age or due to trauma to the implant from a fall or other accident. Once an implant begins to leak, there is nothing that can be done to repair it. It must be removed from the body. Once it is removed, it can be replaced, or it can be left out. For patients with saline implants, a rupture is immediately noticeable, as the saltwater solution inside the implant will drain quickly, usually in the space of a few hours or overnight. If this happens you should seek immediate medical attention, as the breast tissue itself will begin to close off within several weeks of an implant rupture, making re-insertion of a new implant very difficult.

For a ruptured silicone implant, a leak could take years to deflate the implant enough for you to notice, which is why we recommend patients who receive breast implants get mammograms every three years to monitor the condition of the implant as well as the breast itself. Unfortunately, though a leaking silicone implant is less noticeable than a leaking saline implant, a leaking silicone implant can be much more dangerous. Silicone leaked into the bloodstream can cause illness and scarring that saline will not.

Why else do women change their implants?

Other reasons women may switch out their implants is hardening of the tissue around the implant itself. This is known as capsular contracture, and it occurs when the tissue around the breast becomes stiff and dense. While it is not exactly known what causes this condition in some women and not others, there are things you can do to prevent capsular contracture. One technique is to massage the breast implants every day when you are in the shower. The heat from the shower will make the tissue and implant much more malleable than at other times during the day. The massaging motion will help keep the tissue soft and help the breast implant settle into the breast following the initial procedure.

Upsizing or downsizing

Another reason women change out breast implants is that they want a change in breast size. Some women get implants and wish they’d gotten something a little bigger, while others may decide the size they chose when they were younger no longer works well for their lifestyle and a smaller implant is more appropriate. Some women even decide they no longer want breast implants at all and have their implants removed without replacing them. This is a personal decision you should discuss with your surgeon to make sure you are aware of the pros and cons of each option.

Whether you are happy with the size of your breast implants but they are beginning to show signs of aging, or you’d like to make a change in the shape, size or style of breast implant you have, there are many reasons you may want to swap out your current implants for new ones. If you are interested in speaking to Dr. Chau about breast implant revision, please give the office a call at 888-966-9471.