How Long Do Implants Last?
The manufacturer considers the lifespan of silicone breast implants to be around 10 years. Some say they last 10-15 years. But out of the hundreds of different implants from the implant manufacturers out there, from the commonest used such as Allergan, Mentor, B-Lite, Polytech, Nagor, Sebbin, Motiva, Eurosilicone, there are none that do not rupture. Implants weaken with increasing age and that should come as no surprise to anyone. Your body’s tissue fluid and oils are actually absorbed into the implant’s outer shell. Here they gradually weaken the fabric of the shell. What we do know is that the most accurate studies of implant rupture are those derived from MRI data. This is where large numbers of patients were enrolled in a study that required MRI scans every 2-years as part of the trial. This data showed the rupture rate was around 10% by 10 years. The majority of these are undetectable yourself or by being examined in an outpatient clinic. The rupture rate increases even more after 10-year.
Can My Implants Leak If They Do Rupture?
Yes, they can. Even the UK’s high cohesive gel implants can leak. The modern implant from the main manufacturers has been designed and tested well but they are imperfect devices. The silicone gel in the Allergan and Mentor implants that we have been using in UK for decades has a very good cohesive consistency like a hard set jelly that has come out of the fridge. You can cut the implant in half and it doesn’t dribble out, but stays together. In reality, one you have had a rupture for some time, there is some breakdown in the cohesively and I see some more liquid fragments of gel separating. Over time the scar that is around your implants absorbs some of this silicone gel and this may cause chronic inflammation. It may precipitate capsular contraction. You may actually have no symptoms at all from this if it is low grade inflammation or you may get pain. You may even get a seroma. Alternatively, the scar itself may leak the gel which can then migrate into the breast tissue, to your lymph nodes, or further into the body. For these reasons, I never advise my patients to simply wait until they have a problem before having their breast implants removed. That is like closing the stable doors once the horse has bolted! I advise them to consider renewal (or breast implant removal) of their implants at the 10 -year mark if they have not had any earlier problems.
When Should I Remove My Breast Implants?
Breast implants can be great for many people, but there are numerous reasons why some people do not get on with them. This may be because they had implants that were too big for their body when they underwent augmentation. This can cause problems with nipples looking too low, with breast sag occurring, pain, or just looking far too top heavy. Other reasons can include developing a fear that the implants are affecting your health, and although the safety data of implants is very good, you cannot dismiss the possibility that in some patients it might contribute to symptoms. A trial without the implants is therefore an option here. And of course, if your implants repeatedly cause a complication such as sag or capsular contraction then you might want to be done with them for good too. And then a small number of women may get a more concerning symptom of seroma around the implant, which has a chance of being something more serious like breast implant lymphoma. In this situation, being under a specialist is essential, the appropriate testing of the fluid (CD30) is done and the implants and their surround capsules should be removed (en-bloc capsulectomy with explantation). But for the majority of women, if all has been well but you are at the 10-year mark, you have the options of annual MRI (cost of around £800), removal alone or removal with renewal of silicone breast implants.
How Do I Find Out More?
Breast Implant Removal is a UK procedure and never one that you should undertake abroad as part of health tourism. You should see a specialist and ideally one who just does focuses on breast surgery and cosmetic breast surgery with years of experience in this area. Have a consultation and describe any problems or concerns and take it from there. Different options might be considered from simple removal of implants, to adding in a breast lift. But you need to know the pros and cons of the different approaches. Read more about us here, or use the Contact Form to find out about a consultation and the cost. Be aware that the cost for simple removal without capsules is less expensive than when the additional surgery for capsulectomy is performed too. Similarly if an uplift is requested that is also significantly more expensive as it involves over an hour off additional specialist surgery. We have some images of patients who have been through changing their breast implants and also full implant removal with uplift, and to see these please do have a look at my before and after gallery.