Do Breast Implants Need to be Replaced over Time?

It has long been rumored that breast implants are meant to be replaced every 10 years to avoid complications with failing implant devices. Luckily for people who have had the procedure, this is largely a myth. There is no clear expiration date on implants, some last more than 20 years and some deflate after 20 weeks; there is no way to predict how long an implant will stay intact. The FDA reported that 1 in 5 women have their breast implants replaced within 10 years of the initial surgery.

In fact, there are dangers that are associated with unnecessarily replacing functioning implants. There is a possibility of taking out an implant that had many functioning years left with a replacement that won’t last the month. There are also the normal risks of putting your body through surgery and the possibility that the replacements will settle incorrectly. There are reasons to consider having your implants replaced, but it is not necessary to set a hard timeline for their replacement.

Improving Implant Technology

While the technology for breast implants has dramatically changed over the years, the consensus on when to seek professional help is generally agreed upon among professionals. If you notice a change in shape, it is important to consult a physician. This could be an indication that the implant has deflated or been damaged in some way and may need to be replaced. An important note on this is that newer implants may not obviously deflate in the way that you may expect them to, the FDA recommends having an MRI every couple of years to be sure that the implant is still intact. A change in shape could also point to a problem associated with the way the body has healed around the implant a pocket may have created itself; the device may have been improperly placed or shifted since placement. Hardening of the breast may mean that the capsule has contracted, essentially the tissue around the implant has contracted. This can be painful and requires removing the tissue causing the problem and replacing the implant. Weight fluctuation, aging or even a change in preference can change the way one views their implants. If you become unhappy with the implants replacing them or having them taken out is always an option.

Why You Should Replace Implants Every 10 Years

There are a couple of reasons that the 10-year milestone may be relevant for patients. If the breast augmentation was done to reconstruct due to cancer, the 10-year replacement rule holds true due to differing responses from the body. Radiation causes damage to tissue making it less durable, this paired with the lack of natural breast tissue surrounding the implant create a less than ideal environment for the longevity of the implant compared to patients that do not have breast cancer. Another consideration is that the full warranty on your implants may only last 10 years. There is typically a lifetime product replacement for the implants themselves, but the additional warranty that helps with surgical costs should the implant become damaged usually covers you for 10 years.

If there is no problem with your breast implants after 10 years, there is likely no reason to have them replaced. Reliable data on how long an implant can last without requiring replacement is difficult to find. Many studies group the women who get breast implants for cosmetic reasons with the women who have reconstructive surgery after recovering from cancer. This could also be due to the average age of women who have breast implants, less than 30% of women get breast augmentations are in their 20’s with the average patient being in her mid-thirties. What we do know is that less than 5% of implants require replacement due to rupture or deflation and many replacements occur for aesthetic purposes and patient preference. Implants are typically tough enough to withstand almost anything that a normal breast would be put through. While the likelihood of needing an implant replacement does increase over time, it is more likely to do with the body’s reaction to the implant than a failure of the implant itself. At the end of the day, the answer to the question will you will need to have your breast implants replaced due to time passed is no. Paying attention to what your body is telling you, consulting with your physician and getting regular MRIs should be more than enough to be safe following your breast implant surgery.