“How long will my implants last?,” is a very common question that women undergoing Breast Augmentation surgery tend to ask.
Most women will turn to the internet for answers and will find themselves unsettled with a variety of answers. These concerns stem from the media, such as an article from CBS News, citing that women should be aware that ? of those receiving breast implants will have them removed within 10 years. However, after taking a closer look at where this information comes from; there are many experienced surgeons that might disagree.
In my own practice, numerous women have come to me after 10 years of receiving their breast implants, under the impression that their implants have expired and are in need of changing. During their consult I ask them if they are still satisfied with the size and appearance of their breasts. If their answer is “Yes,” then, as the saying goes; “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
In an article he wrote about the idea of breast implants lasting only 10 years, Dr. James McMahan said that he believes it to be one of the 10 biggest lies in plastic surgery. A few doctors would suggest that the life of an implant is 15 years while other surgeons have witnessed implants to last as long as 30 years without any complications.
So what is it exactly that may necessitate removal of breast implants?
The most common causes are due to a wish for a different size, capsular contracture, or ruptures due to creases or folds in the implant. Leakage and rupture were more common in older silicone implants due to their gel cohesiveness and gel-shell interface; in saline implants, the valve used to seal the implant after it is filled to the desired size is an area that is prone to fail over time due to the way it is designed.
In the more modern era of breast augmentation that we now are witnessing, the majority of breast augmentations are done with silicone implants; these implants have better fill ratios, higher strength cohesive gels, and improved gel-shell interface. These advances would suggest that that the new implants available on the market are more durable and less likely to suffer from the flaws that made the older implants as vulnerable to rupture, but again, any medical device can fail. Furthermore, the modern plastic surgeon has more tools at his/her disposal with which to improve patients’ education and to reduce patients’ likelihood of wishing for a different size after undergoing surgery. As our data increases and our science and understanding continues to grow regarding such phenomena as capsular contracture, more measures are being taken by plastic surgeons to help minimize such occurrences.
Though it is clear that there are no exact expiration dates on breast implants, it does not mean that they are guaranteed to last forever.
Talk to your surgeon about the warranty on the implants he/she prefers to use and what their experience is with the life of those implants in their patients. In our office we prefer to use Sientra Implants because of their high-strength cohesive silicone gel technology, their balance between maintaining form yet continuing to feel natural, and the fact that they stand behind their product with a warranty as good as any in the industry.
There are some questions regarding breast augmentation surgery that should be asked directly when you schedule a consult with your Orange County plastic surgeon. We are more than happy to address any of your concerns regarding Breast Augmentation or Sientra implants.