Do Breast Implants Have a “Shelf Life”?

Plastic surgery has long been a source of public interest. We have devoted multiple seasons of reality television programming to multiple types of cosmetic surgery and a long-running hit TV show brought the subject of plastic surgery into our living rooms before most of us ever heard of Netflix. Major Hollywood stars, such as Jane Fonda, Courtney Cox, and Christie Brinkley feel comfortable discussing their plastic surgery. A reported 11 million people have received Botox treatments. As a culture, plastic surgery is definitely something that pops up in regular conversation, possibly more often today than ever before.

But as is frequently the case, having regular conversations about a topic means that a lot of misinformation can end up in those discussions and chit-chat. One of the most commonly talked about procedures is breast implants. Since the first breast implant surgeries from the 1960s, this particular plastic surgery has caused much discussion, controversy, and fascination. Although much less controversial today than they were in the mid-twentieth century, misinformation and confusion still loom large in the public discussion about breast implants.

One of the very important questions often brought up in these cases: Is there a shelf-life to my breast implants?

Breast Implant Statistics

The National Center for Biotechnology Information cites a 1998 study in which a full 34% of women reported being unhappy with their breasts. Other than dissatisfaction, women may have breast implants after having one or both of their breasts removed because of cancer. Unsurprisingly, breast implants, also known as breast augmentation, were the ninth most popular plastic surgery in 2000 according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In the year 2000 alone, over 90,000 breast implant surgeries were performed. The National Center for Health Research reported that over 300,000 women got breast implants during 2018. In the same year, an additional 100,000 breast cancer patients had reconstruction surgery that often used breast implants. Despite the prevalence of these surgeries, several people still have confusion about the procedure.

What Are Breast Implants Made Of?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of breast implants: those made of silicone gel and saline implants. Both types of breast implant contain an outer shell of silicone and a variety of sizes, thicknesses, shapes, and textures to choose. While the silicone gel implants are pre-filled, a specialist may fill some saline implants during the operation.

Are Breast Implants Permanent?

According to the FDA, breast implants should not be considered “lifetime devices.”  The FDA also lists several common reasons that breast implants need replacement:

  • Rupturing
  • Additional breast operations
  • Desire to remove or replace implants
  • Implant deflation
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Wrinkles

Another common reason that breast implants may need to be replaced is that the initial surgery made the breasts look too asymmetrical or unnatural. This may occur over time, because of aging, or it may be a problem following the initial surgery they wish to correct.

When Should Breast Implants be Replaced?

Conversations about breast implants include a specific “shelf life” or expiration date. Some people believe that breast implants have a guaranteed lifespan of 10 years before immediate replacement is necessary. Others believe that breast implants can last for as long as 25 years without a new set of implants.

There is no set expiration date for breast implants. Some patients may need to have their implants replaced within three years. Others may wait double or triple that time before they need to have their implants replaced. One of the important factors that will determine how often breast implants are replaced is the personal preferences of the patient.

Other factors that influence how often a person must replace their implants include:

  • Type of implant
  • Manufacturer
  • Material

The Cleveland Clinic states that the outer shell of the implant may deteriorate as the implant gets older, thus resulting in a greater possibility that the shell may rupture and will need replacement.

Deciding if Your Breast Implant Needs Replacement

Since there is no set shelf life to replace a breast implant, it is up to the patient to decide exactly when that replacement needs to take place. Sometimes, you may notice signs of a rupture. The Mayo Clinic notes that ruptured implants are not linked to cancer, reproductive problems or tissue disease.

But you may still experience some discomfort if your implant ruptures. These are common signs associated with a rupture:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Changes in shape
  • Hardening
  • Lumps

If you experience any of these symptoms, discuss them with your plastic surgeon. Your doctor can take an imaging test to determine how badly the implant has ruptured. The Mayo Clinic also recommends a yearly breast exam to make certain that your implants have not reached the end of the line.

The Importance of a Board Certified Surgeon

Having a qualified plastic surgeon examine your implants can take away all the concerns you might have about their shelf life. Women who live near Miami, FL, can benefit from the services of Dr. Jason I. Altman at the Plastic Surgery Institute of Miami. He is board certified by both the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The PSI Miami site has an extensive gallery of before-and-after pictures that can aid you in your decision making. Visit PSI Miami’s site to learn more about Dr. Altman – a breast augmentation expert from Miami, FL.

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