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Do breast implants last forever? This is one of the most common questions new patients have for their plastic surgeon.
The short answer to this question is “no” – breast implants do not last forever. But the longer, more accurate answer is “it depends.” It depends on several factors, from the skill of the surgeon to the type of implants you select and other factors as well.
To understand why the answer to this question is not an exact science, it helps to learn more about your options for breast augmentation surgery.
In this post, learn what you need to know about how long breast implants last.
Types of Breast Implants
As the American Society of Plastic Surgeons points out, there are two main types of breast implants: saline and silicone.
Each type has potential benefits and drawbacks, including potential permanency. The type of breast implant you select may or may not impact how long they last.
The FDA states that the average useful life for breast implants (type not specified) is 10 years.
Saline is the original breast implant type. Saline implants get their name from their filler, which is just plain sterile saltwater. The outer shell is silicone. Regular and structured (more natural-feeling) implants are available. Saline implants are FDA-approved for non-reconstructive patients ages 18 and older.
Silicone is a newer implant option. Silicone implants, as the name suggests, are filled with a silicone gel. Several types of silicone implants exist to achieve different appearance goals. Silicone implants are FDA-approved for non-reconstructive patients ages 22 and older.
Factors That Influence How Long Breast Implants Last
Reputable implant manufacturers will frequently issue a warranty for new saline or silicone breast implants. The standard timeframe for these warranties is 10 years.
However, other factors can also influence how long any individual patient’s breast implants may last.
In some cases, patients may find their implants stay quite stable and pleasing in appearance for longer than 10 years. In other cases, patients may need to have their implants replaced sooner than 10 years.
Your choice of surgeon
One of the most important determinants of how long breast implants last is the skill of the plastic surgeon. According to breast implant expert, Jason I. Altman, it is vital to select a surgeon with the advanced education, training, certification and hands-on expertise to safeguard against rupture, infection, shifts in placement and other potentially preventable complications.
Type of implants
Some implants are designed to hold a certain shape to create a particular appearance result. If these implants shift, the affected breast(s) may develop an odd shape. This is a more likely risk with silicone implants since they are placed after being filled and shaped.
Saline implants, on the other hand, are filled only after they are placed inside the breasts. In general, this makes them easier to adjust or correct for size or appearance post-implantation without the need for further surgery.
Your genetics and lifestyle
One less-predictable aspect of predicting how long breast implants will last is the patient’s own genetics and lifestyle.
For example, some patients may develop a condition called capsular contracture, which basically translates to mean scar tissue that forms around the implant may harden. This can happen in just one or both breasts, causing a change in the feel or appearance.
While massage can help to some degree, it is not always possible to know in advance whether your body will react in this way to the presence of an implant. Many patients experience this in just one breast, and some experience it in the same breast again even after having a new implant placed.
Similarly, patients who smoke or use alcohol heavily or patients who become overweight may be at greater risk for one or both implants to begin to shift, stretch, or sag in the future.
Here again, your choice of surgeon is critical to ensure your new implants are made by a reputable manufacturer who is known for delivering only the highest quality products.
Rupture is a known risk for either saline or silicone implants. One way to reduce this risk is to ensure you select a surgeon who works with only the most reputable implant providers.
How to Maximize the Useful Life of Your Breast Implants
Three key determinants may help to improve the longevity of your new breast implants.
The first is the plastic surgeon of your choice. Even shiny credentials, which are essential in their own right, isn’t a substitute for extensive hands-on surgical expertise.
The second is your personal health. You want to be at or near your ideal weight, generally healthy in all other ways, willing to refrain from smoking before and after your procedure to help your body heal and approach your implant procedure with realistic expectations.
The third is your adherence to post-procedure recovery protocols. The more you do safeguarding against damage or impact to the chest area and follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter, the more likely you will have a quick and uncomplicated recovery from implantation.
About the Plastic Surgery Institute of Miami
Jason I. Altman, M.D., is the co-founder and co-medical director of the world-class Plastic Surgery Institute of Miami.
After graduating with top honors from some of the most prestigious institutions in the nation, Dr. Altman went on to win the coveted Jerome P. Webster Fellow award with Interplast – an honor only one surgeon receives nationwide annually.
As a double board-certified surgeon (rhinoplasty and plastic surgery), Dr. Altman specializes in supporting patients to both feel and look their very best. With consistent 5-star ratings on Real Self, Dr. Altman is a top choice for patients seeking new, revision and reconstructive procedures, and very sought after as a breast implant specialist in Miami, FL.