How Long Do Breast Implants Last?


Just like any man-made product, breast implants have a shelf life. For both saline and silicone breast implants, that’s usually between 10-20 years. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. Read on to learn how often you’ll need to have your breast implants replaced.

How long will breast implants last?

If you’re thinking about getting breast implants, the first thing you need to know is this: they probably won’t last a lifetime. While breast implant technology has improved significantly since implants were first used in the 1960s, it’s not perfect. You should expect your breast implants to need replacing at some point after your initial surgery.

Saline and silicone implants generally last between 10 and 20 years. That’s the time frame the Food and Drug Administration has set as an expected life span for breast implants. However, if a complication occurs, such as a rupture, implant failure, or capsular contracture, you may need to have the implant replaced on a shorter timeline. This is where talking to a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast augmentation can be helpful.

Will all breast implants fail within 20 years?

No. Breast implants are designed to be very long-lasting. While silicone and saline implants are FDA approved for a 10-20 years life span, you don’t have to get them replaced every 10-20 years. It’s perfectly safe to go beyond 20 years as long as you’re not experiencing signs of a problem and are happy with the way they look.

How will I know when my implants need to be replaced?

Even though implants are approved to last 20 years, they may need to be replaced before then. Here are some ways you’ll know your breast implants need attention.

1. Your breasts feel hard. This is called capsular contracture. Essentially, capsular contracture is hardened scar tissue around an implant. You may also feel tightness, pain, and tenderness or observe abnormal cosmetic changes in your breast. The condition is rare and needs to be addressed by your surgeon. You may also feel small, hard lumps under the skin around the implant. These are calcium deposits. They also need to be addressed surgically.

2. Implant ruptures also need to be addressed surgically. Ruptures are rare, but the risk increases over time. Both silicone and saline implants can rupture. Silicone keeps its shape and doesn’t move. It’s often called a silent rupture since you may not realize that it has occurred. Between 2% and 12% of people with silicone implants experience a rupture. If saline implants rupture, they will leak and deflate like a balloon. Since saline will not cause you to feel sick, you may not realize the implant has failed until your breast is completely deflated. If your breasts look uneven, decrease in size, or have hard knots, or you begin to feel pain or tingling, you need to see your cosmetic surgeon.

3. If you notice rippling on your skin around the breasts, the implant itself could be wrinkled. It’s not harmful but doesn’t look appealing cosmetically. You’ll probably want to have the issue rectified surgically.

4. Your implants may shift or sag as you age. You may notice one breast hangs lower than the other or that your nipples point in unnatural directions. Women who have had children or have gained/lost a significant amount of weight often experience problems like this. In these cases, you may need to not only replace the implant but have a breast lift as well to maintain an attractive silhouette. If the implants change position, you should consider having them replaced.

Should you get an MRI to assess your implants?

The FDA recommends women with breast implants have an ultrasound or MRI five to six years after the surgery. The goal is to assess the status of the implant. After the initial scan, you should have one every two to three years. This is the best way to make sure your implants are functioning as intended.

What happens to breast implants after 30 years?

While some breast implants may last this long, chances are your breasts won’t feel or look natural. Between thick scar tissue and the sagging that occurs as the natural part of aging, breasts with 30-year-old implants benefit tremendously from a breast lift and implant replacement.

What will my breast implants look like when I’m old?

If you get breast implants in your 20s, you’ll probably wonder what they may look like when you’re in your 40s or 50s. That’s nearly impossible to predict. A lot depends on your unique body chemistry, breast anatomy, and how your body changes after childbirth, breastfeeding, or menopause. It also depends on the size of your breasts. Women with smaller implants tend to look more natural over time than women with larger implants.

How many times will I need my breast implants replaced?

That’s a hard question to answer. Most patients only need their implants replaced once or twice during their lifetime. It will depend on the type of implant you have and your unique physiology.

You may choose to have your breast implants removed or replaced for reasons that have nothing to with their function. Many women decide they want to change sizes at some point, opting for larger or smaller implants. You may also want to change the type of implant you have for whatever reason. Today’s

Gummy Bear silicone implants look much more natural than implants of only a decade ago, leading many women to have replacement surgery.

For more information about breast implant replacement surgery, contact Dr. Weniger today.