Breast implants are not living beings and, therefore, they don’t have an expiry date as such. However, there is no guarantee they would come good for a lifetime. Should you replace breast implants every 10 years? Generally, a silicone or saline implant is designed to remain inside a human body for anywhere between 10 and 20 years. But the majority end up getting replaced or removed before spending at least 10 years inside a woman’s chest, due to cosmetic concerns or complications.
Signs Your Breast Implant Needs to Be Removed or Replaced
As mentioned before, certain complications could lead to situations where removing the breast implant becomes necessary.
Hardening of the implant is basically a hardened scar tissue or capsular contracture around the implant(s). This could also lead to pain, tightness, tenderness, and changes in how the breast(s) looks in general. In certain scenarios, a particular breast could harden more than once.
Saline breast implants that rupture due to a hole or tear in their shells will deflate. The saline would usually drip and get reabsorbed within the body. Such leakage could happen slowly over a period of days or within minutes. The deflation would look obvious once all the fluid has seeped out. The troubled breast would lose its shape and size and look significantly different from its pair. During the initial few years, saline ruptures are rare. The risk, however, increases over a period.
Silicone breast implants could tear too. Compared to saline, silicone gel is significantly thicker. When silicone implants break, the gel tends to stagnate and usually remains within the implant or around the scar tissue for longer. A ruptured silicone implant, therefore, goes unnoticed. Most women with a ruptured silicone implant do not experience any symptoms. But when the warning signs do appear, those invariably are decreased breast size, breast pain or tenderness, hard knots, swelling, tingling, burning, numbness, etc. The rate of silicone breast implant ruptures is usually anywhere from two to 12 percent. Some silicone implants rupture within days, some after many years, and others stay intact for at least a decade.
Things to Expect When You Remove or Replace Breast Implants
Ruptured breast implants should be removed by a qualified plastic surgeon. The surgeon need not be the one who placed the implants originally. During the consultation with the surgeon, the doctor would assess your implant’s condition and present you with surgical options accordingly. Based on your preferences, the plastic surgeon could:
- remove the implant alone
- remove the implant and simultaneously perform a breast lift surgery
- remove the lumpy or hardened breast tissue
- replace the implant without or with a breast lift
At times, implant removal alone could end up in cosmetic abnormalities, including deflation, dimpling, sagging, and asymmetry. Due to this, the surgeon could prescribe implant replacement with new implants that are of a different shape or size.
Based on your procedure’s specifics, you could head home within a few hours after the surgery or get hospitalized for a few days. Recovery times vary across cases.