Should I Replace My Breast Implants Every 10 Years?

A question I frequently hear is, “Should I have my breast implants replaced every 10 years?”.  My short answer to that is, no, don’t do that.  Watch the video below, or read on, to see why.

I’ve seen a lot of women who’ve had breast implants for 25, even 35 years before one leaked or ruptured. I don’t want someone to have surgery every 10 years if their implants might last for 25 or 35 years.

Your breast implants will eventually leak

There are a few things to think about.  For instance, if you have saline breast implants, you’re going to know it when one of them leaks. That breast will deflate.  It will become smaller.  It’s a noticeable change.  The average time before that happens is about 15 years, give or take a little bit.

With silicone implants, it’s a little different.  With silicone implants you might not even know it if one of them has leaked. It may be, for instance, you go for a mammogram and the mammogram shows there’s a problem with the implant.  In that case, you’d need to have other studies done.  Instead, though, sometimes what will happen is you’ll get a little nodule you hadn’t noticed before, a little firmness from the tissues reacting to the leaking implant.  If that’s the case, you would need to get evaluated for that.

What imaging does the FDA recommend for women who have breast implants?

The FDA recommends that a woman with breast implants, with silicone breast implants specifically, has some type of breast imaging done at 5 to 6 years after the implants were placed, and then every 2 to 3 years after that.  They recommend either an MRI or an ultrasound.  If you’re like most women, though, you probably won’t even do that.  Studies tell us that less than 10 percent of women with silicone breast implants actually do that type of imaging.  I do recommend that you follow the FDA guidelines, and I do recommend that you get mammograms done every one to two years after the age of 40.  Preferably at a breast imaging center.

Develop a ‘contingency plan’

What I do recommend, though, instead of getting your implants replaced every 10 years is, after 12 to 15 years, develop what I call a “Contingency Plan”.  You should start looking on the internet for what types of implants are available.  Is there something new since you had your implants placed.  Start gathering the information about your breast implants.  When you had your implants placed, they probably gave you information about what company made your implants, what volumes were placed. If you can’t find that information, you might call the surgeon who placed them or the facility where the surgery was done.  They might still have that information.

It’s helpful to take that information to a visit with a plastic surgeon.  And, at 12 to 15 years, you probably should visit with a plastic surgeon.  There are a lot of things to think about, a lot of questions you might have.  Are there new types of implants?   Do you even want to have breast implants placed?  If you don’t want to have breast implants placed, how will your breasts look?  Will they look okay without anything else being done?  Or, maybe you’d need to have something else done.  Maybe a breast lift.  Maybe suction a little fat from a tummy or the thighs and place it in the breasts.  Maybe new breast implants.  A lot of things to think about.  So, start developing a contingency plan at 12 to 15 years, even if you’re not even thinking about having breast implants placed at that time or replacing them.  If you don’t have them done at 12 to 15 years, go back and visit every 7 to 8 years to learn more about what might be involved.

We see a lot of women at our office here in Fort Worth to go through these issues with them.  We want to help people to understand about their breast implants and about the options.

If you’re thinking about doing more breast surgery, give us a call!  We’d love to see you!  In Fort Worth, keeping it beautiful, I’m Dr. Kelly Kunkel.

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