Most women who choose to undergo breast augmentation surgery understand that breast implants have a lifespan, and there may come a time when you need to consider replacing them. The tricky part is knowing when that time has arrived. Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer to the question, “How long do breast implants last?”
Still, if you’re wondering, “How do I know when my breast implants need replacing,” you can pay attention to a few important signs. We’ll describe some of those signs in this blog post so you know what to look for.
1. One or Both Implants Change Appearance
You might notice changes in the shape or texture of your breast implants. If you notice any irregularities, such as asymmetry, rippling, or a change in an implant’s contour, it could be a sign that your implants are reaching the end of their lifespan. Changes in implant shape usually occur in one breast or the other. Even if both implants change shape, they may not change in the same way. This asymmetry doesn’t pose health risks, but it typically makes someone self-conscious, and it can be difficult to find bras that fit. It’s essential that you monitor any changes through regular self-examinations and checkups with your physician or surgeon.
2. Pain or Discomfort
Persistent pain or discomfort around the breast area may indicate an issue with your implants, such as capsular contracture. Even though you should expect some discomfort in the initial weeks after your surgery, chronic pain or unusual sensations beyond your recovery period may indicate a complication like implant rupture or leakage.
If you have saline implants, you’ll notice almost immediately if an implant ruptures. Ruptured silicone gel implants usually remain intact, and discomfort or pain is a sign to schedule an imaging test. Regardless of the cause, persistent pain or irritation is not a typical result of breast augmentation surgery. Patients who are experiencing either should schedule an appointment with their surgeon.
3. Capsular Contracture
Scar tissue naturally forms around breast implants as part of the healing process. This is a normal response whenever a surgeon inserts an implant or other medical device into the body. In some cases, however, the scar tissue tightens around an implant. Grade 1 capsular contracture is normal and doesn’t affect breast augmentation results. In more severe cases, the scar tissue squeezes the implant enough that it no longer appears or feels natural. You may also experience pain or discomfort.
4. Change in Breast Sensation
Changes in breast sensation, including numbness or increased sensitivity, could signal implant-related complications. This might be due to nerve compression, implant displacement, or other factors. Regularly monitor changes in sensation and discuss them with your health care provider.
5. Lifestyle Changes
Your circumstances at the time you got breast implants may be significantly different than what they are today. Some women decide to downsize their implants because they draw unwanted attention or because they’ve become more active, and the implant interferes with jogging or other physical activities.
6. Implant Age
Even though breast implant manufacturers design the devices to be durable, they won’t last forever. An old rule of thumb asserted that implants typically lasted 10 years, but most surgeons consider that outdated today. The longevity of implants may be 15 or even 20 years. However, the risk of complications increases as implants age, and you may want to consider replacing them by scheduling a breast augmentation revision procedure. We wrote more about breast implant revision surgery in an earlier blog post.
Considering Breast Implant Replacement Surgery?
Ensuring the longevity and health of your breast implants requires monitoring and proactive communication with your health care provider. If you are experiencing any of the signs described above, you can request a consultation at our practice using the online form or call us at (914) 423-9000 to schedule an appointment.