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Replacement of BreastsWhen consulting a surgeon about getting breast implants, women often ask “How long do implants last?” However, the answer to this question is not an easy one. Breast implant duration can vary according to several factors. To some extent, the longevity of breast implants can depend on the patient’s body and lifestyle. In addition, the implant type can make a difference in the durability.

Although the skills and techniques of the surgeon can affect the lifespan of implants, even a “textbook procedure” can fail sometimes. In general, breast implants do not have an expiration date and have been known to last an average of 10 to 20 years without complications.

In recent reports, the FDA declared that about 20% of women will need their implants repaired or replaced within 10 years of the initial surgery. Therefore, breast implant companies offer a free lifetime product replacement policy. Of course, that doesn’t mean that implant replacement procedure is free. However, manufacturers offer a 10 year warranty to help offset some of the cost of the implant replacement surgery.

In the majority of cases, the signs of breast implants needing to be replaced include if they leak or rupture or if complications transpire. As time passes, the implants move and shift within the body which can cause the implants to wear down and eventually tear. Although implants can take hundreds of pounds of force, they can also become damaged from an accident or trauma or a defective bag.

Silicone implants are known to be more durable than saline implants. However, with silicone implants, women usually cannot tell if the implant has ruptured. Therefore, it is recommended to have an MRI every three years to ensure the implant remains intact.

For saline implants, a decreased size and shape of the breast is a sure sign of a leak or rupture. Patients should not panic if their saline implant ruptures because the saline can safely be absorbed into the body. Some of the other symptoms of an implant rupture may include pain, tingling, burning, swelling, numbness and nodules.

One of the most common complications with breast implants is capsular contracture. Following breast augmentation, capsules form around either type of breast implant. The body’s immune system responds to the foreign object by building scar tissue. Capsular contracture occurs when the scar tissue tightens or contracts and restricts the movement of the implant. Capsular contracture can cause pain and a hardening of the breast tissue. High-riding or misshapen breasts are also a sign of capsular contracture. Additional surgeries to remove the scar tissue and/or replace the implants might be needed.

When implants are placed subglandular, or over the chest muscle but below the mammary gland, rippling can eventually occur. This happens because the filler material and the shell shift which will eventually cause the implant to fold in on itself under the pressure from the body. Rippling is usually seen in slender women due to the fact that there isn’t much breast tissue to cover the implant. It can also transpire as the breast tissue recedes over time which makes ripples more apparent. Rippling breast implants can seem unsightly and many women choose to have them replaced.

For the best results and to help minimize complications, patients should seek a board-certified plastic surgeon for their breast augmentation surgery. Surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are also members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. These members undergo rigorous training and must pass extensive examinations to become board-certified.

– SP

August 11, 2016
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