How Long Do Breast Implants Last?

Andrew Mackay

Andrew Mackay - Medical Content Writer

Posted Jan 15, 2021

Smiling woman choosing breast implants from a doctor.

Breast implant surgery is a popular cosmetic treatment. But, how long do breast implants last? In short, breast implants won’t last a lifetime and usually need to be replaced after around 10 years. However, this is often dependent on the type of implants that you have fitted, as well as any body changes that you go through in the years following the surgery.

As such a popular type of breast surgery, it’s not surprising that many patients want to know about how successful the procedure is, how long the implants are expected to last, and what factors can have an affect on this durability.

While there are some general rules and guidance that we can use to help to answer these commonly asked questions, it can be difficult to provide definitive answers. This is mainly due to the fact that the durability of breast implants varies from person to person, and is dependent on a number of individual factors. To look into this in more detail, we’ve created this dedicated post which discusses the lifespan of breast implants, as well as a few important factors that might affect this.

What Is Breast Implant Surgery?

Breast implant surgery, often referred to as a boob job, is a popular breast augmentation procedure that aims to change the size, shape, symmetry, or proportion of a woman’s breasts. The surgery involves the use of prosthetic implants which are inserted into the breasts through incisions made by the surgeon. The prosthetic implants are filled with either a silicone gel or a special saline solution.

Prices for breast implant surgery are a lot more affordable than they once were. This has helped many patients to tackle the self-conscious feelings that the size or shape of their breasts were causing.

How Long Do Breast Implants Last?

As previously mentioned, it’s difficult to provide a definitive answer. However, generally-speaking, breast implants will need to be replaced after around 10 years. While the implants themselves can last forever and can remain in good condition for 20 years, there are changes that can occur in the breast that may require the removal or replacement of the implants. Durability can also be dependent on the type of material used, with patients often asking the question of “how long do silicone breast implants last?” vs. “how long do saline implants last?” Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common reasons that can result in the need for replacement breast implants.

1. Capsular Contracture

One of the most common reasons for needing replacement breast implants, capsular contracture occurs in around 30% of patients who have implants fitted. This complication occurs as a result of a natural reaction to the implants.

Essentially, the body recognises the implant as a foreign object and begins to create a capsule of tissue around it in order to stop it from growing or moving around. In many cases, the creation of this capsule of tissue is not a problem, however, in some cases it will start to thicken or contract. This will then begin to squeeze the implant, causing it to move, harden, or change shape.

Capsular contracture can occur following any breast implant surgery, regardless of the type of implants that are fitted. However, it tends to happen more often with silicone implants. Capsular contracture can also occur as a result of an infection during the surgery, however this is fairly rare.

2. Implant Rupture

Breast implants will need to be replaced in the case where the implant itself ruptures. This can happen with both saline and silicone implants. An implant rupture often goes unnoticed at first due to the fact that the solution within the implant can leak out very slowly. In time though, the implant will begin to deflate and the breast may begin to decrease in size.

Implant rupture is rare, especially in the first few years following a breast implant surgery. In fact, one study found that 98% of breast implant cases were rupture-free for the first five years, while 83-85% experienced no ruptures for 10 years.

3. Palpability

Palpability, often referred to as wrinkling or rippling, refers to a wavy appearance that can appear on either the middle, top, or sides of the breasts following an implant surgery. Palpability occurs more frequently with saline than silicone implants. In these cases, it’s common to have the saline implants replaced with smooth silicone to correct the rippling.

4. Implant Movement

The lifespan of breast implants can also be affected if they move or change position. Whether made from silicone or saline, breast implants can’t prevent sagging skin, commonly caused by aging or significant weight gain or loss.

Although these changes often occur naturally, there are options if you begin to feel that you’re unhappy with the look of your breasts. Having the implants replaced can resolve the problem, although this still carries the risk of the problem occurring again in the future as you age and gain or lose weight. Rather than this, many women choose to undergo a breast lift surgery to help to restore their breasts to their previous appearance. A breast lift can be combined with implant replacement in certain cases, although this is something that should be discussed with your doctor in advance.

Increasing the Lifespan of Breast Implants

When asking the question, “how long do breast implants last?”, many women also want to know if there’s anything they can do to increase the longevity of their new implants. While natural changes are inevitable, there are a few important things to bear in mind which can help to increase the lifespan of your breast implants. We’ve outlined these in more detail below.

1. Choose a Highly-Experienced Surgeon

When planning your breast implant surgery, it’s really important to make sure that you choose an experienced doctor who’s based at a reputable clinic. A poorly performed breast implant surgery can result in some of the complications outlined above, such as a rupture of the implant.

With Qunomedical, we’ve done the research legwork for you, identifying high-quality clinics and doctors worldwide. We use our proprietary scoring system, Qunoscore, which assesses doctors based on 21 unique data points including qualifications, experience, value for money, and reviews from past patients. This ensures that wherever you choose to have your breast implant surgery, you’ll be treated at the highest standards by an experienced professional.

2. Take Time to Pick the Right Size and Shape

Many women who have their breast implants removed do so because they’re unhappy with the size and shape of their breasts following surgery. One way that can help to avoid this situation is by taking your time when choosing the size and type of implant that you want to have fitted.

The specific type of breast implant that you go for will likely be dependent on your individual goals from the surgery. However, remember that these will likely be with you for around 10 years at least, so going for something that you’re sure you’ll still be happy with in the long-term is really important for ensuring their longevity.

3. Pay Attention to the Post-Op Guidelines

Carefully following post-operative instructions from your doctor can also help to minimise any potential complications when it comes to breast implant surgery. For example, give yourself time to rest following the procedure — at least one week off work — and wear loose-fitting clothes for the first few weeks.

4. Regular Checkups and MRIs

Following surgery, it’s important to make sure you organise regular checkups with your doctor to keep an eye on the state of the implants. One effective way to increase the longevity of breast implants is to attend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. It’s recommended to have the first MRI 5-6 years after your breast implant surgery and then every 2-3 following this. MRI scans can be particularly effective in detecting implant ruptures, as well as other potential complications.

Alternative Option: Breast Augmentation With Fat Transfer

Depending on your individual situation, you may feel that breast implants are not the right procedure to go for. This isn’t the only option available when it comes to breast augmentation surgery. A natural breast augmentation is a popular alternative. This procedure involves extracting fat from one part of the body and injecting it into the breasts to improve their contours. This is a great alternative for those looking for a more natural solution as it doesn’t involve the creation and insertion of prosthetic implants to enhance the size and shape of the breasts.

How Do I Get Started?

Interested in finding out more about breast implant surgery? Ready to go ahead and book your treatment? Contact us and one of our Patient Managers will be in touch to get you started. Our initial assessments are 100% free and non-binding, regardless of whether you book a treatment or not. Your Patient Manager will then do the legwork for you and present you with a number of different treatment options, both abroad and at home. Together, we can find the right doctor.

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