Have you had breast implant surgery? Are you happy with your larger, fuller breasts? If you answered yes to both of these, terrific! Just remember: like many other aspects of your health, such as your eyes, teeth and bones, breast implants need to be checked on a regular basis, and a plastic surgeon, without a doubt, is the most qualified physician to do this. For more information on breast augmentation, download our free fact sheet!
It’s important to get your breast implants checked every year
Silicone breast implants (filled with silicone gel) as well as saline and structured breast implants (filled with saline/sterile saltwater) are all FDA-approved and safe. However, whether a woman has had either type of breast implant surgery, there are a few problems that potentially could occur over time. This is why I recommend that all my breast augmentation patients come in for a yearly checkup.
Of course, the outcome we want to see in an annual checkup is that nothing is wrong. And if in fact there is an issue with one or both of the implants, catching it early makes a big difference in minimizing negative effects.
No precise expiration date for breast implants
It is a common misconception that implants need to be replaced every ten years. This is untrue because there is no exact "shelf life" when it comes to breast implants, and all breast implants made over the last 20 years come with a lifetime warrantee. I have had patients whose implants have lasted 20+ years trouble-free, but I have also had patients who have experienced implant leakage after only a few years. The main point is to get them checked regularly.
Potential issues with breast implants
When a woman has had breast implant surgery, there are a few potential problems I look for in follow-up visits:
Ruptures causing leakage are a risk with either silicone or saline breast implants and are generally due to “wear and tear” of the implants.
Leakage from a saline breast implant: With saline implants, a leak is easily identified because you will notice the breast deflating and becoming smaller in size. It is not painful or harmful because the saline (salt water) is just absorbed by the body. Although not critical to your health, replacement is recommended as soon as possible. Saline implants do not require any special monitoring.
Leakage from a silicone breast implant: A rupture or leak is harder to tell with silicone implants because the silicone gel tends to stay within the implant capsule and the volume or size of the implant is maintained. Studies have not found that this results in any increased risk of disease but I recommend removing the implant and any loose silicone that may be present, then replacing the implant. The newer generation of implants do have a lower rupture rate than older implants, but detection is still difficult. Confirming a leak is best done with an MRI of the breast, as a mammogram is not very good at detecting leakages.
When the breast tissue around the implants ages, it can become thinner and less dense, causing the breasts to sag. To remedy this, I can replace a patient’s current implants with larger ones, or I can perform a breast lift, or both.
Over time, breasts with implants can change shape, causing one breast to look very different from the other in terms of size, shape or breast level. Revision breast surgery can correct this issue.
Capsular contracture or hardening
In some women, scar tissue can form around breast implants which may cause the breasts to harden and look or feel different. It may also cause some discomfort from the tightening of the capsule. It is not known what causes a capsular contracture to form in one woman and not another, or why one breast may harden while the other remains soft and natural.
If you have breast implants, please come see me
If it has been a few years (or more) since your breast implant surgery, it’s important to get them checked. I highly recommend doing this once a year. Please make an appointment to come in and see me so I can check for any problems.
If you are interested in breast augmentation
If you are thinking about having breast implant surgery and would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact me. I will send you additional information prior to your appointment.
More information on breast implant surgery
You might also find these pages helpful on my website:
- Breast Procedures
- Breast Augmentation
- Breast Lift
- Breast Reconstruction
- Breast Reduction
- Breast Revision
Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), Samuel J. Beran, MD is a highly accomplished plastic surgeon with offices in Manhattan, Harrison and Mount Kisco, NY. With more than 20 years’ experience and a thorough command of the most advanced techniques and technologies, Dr. Beran consistently provides his patients with the highest level of plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the breast, face, skin and body. Recently, Dr. Beran was named a “Top Doctor” by RealSelf for his dedication to responding to consumer questions and patient feedback. The “Top Doctor” designation is awarded to less than 10% of the RealSelf physician community.