Ask Dr. Pane: Do breasts implants need to be replaced after 10 years?


The Question

A perennial question which arises among people with breast implants is that of how long they will last. There are a number of factors which influence the answer to this question, and they are so individual that there’s almost no way to generalize it appropriately, although there are some basic guidelines. A prime example is the focus of this week’s Ask Dr. Pane segment. The question is, “Do breast implants need to be replaced after ten years?”

The Answer

Dr. Pane says there’s no basis to the “rule” that breast implants need to be swapped out after a set amount of time. Although he has not been in practice for twenty years, he has seen patients who have had implants in place at least that long, if not longer. Some patients prefer to stay with the implants they originally had, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Because of this, he largely considers the so-called “ten-year rule” a myth which has been passed around until it is considered axiomatic, although he’s unsure where this “rule” originated or why it has become so widespread among cosmetic surgery patients.

When a patient undergoes an amendment to an existing breast augmentation using American-made saline or silicone breast implants, Dr. Pane says he prefers to reset the clock with a fresh set of implants. This is to prevent possible leakage or deformity of the implant, although in some cases it is simply not necessary, as discussed above. Over time, as an implant rests in the body, weight gain and loss, accidents, injuries, trauma to the thoracic area from blunt impacts, slips and falls and other problems may change how the implant sits against the thoracic wall. Whether the implant is placed above or below the muscles of the chest makes a difference as well, and of course this is one area where size can certainly matter! However, in general, implants do not “wear out” in the way popular medical myth says they do; when there is leakage or substantive migration of the implant from its original position, there is usually some other proximal cause.

In the case of saline implants which develop leaks, holes or other issues, the patient will notice a problem because the breast appears to deflate and lie flatter against the chest compared to the other breast. Silicone implants do not tend to demonstrate visible leakage in the same way as saline implants, and problems are often identified during mammograms or other forms of imaging breast examination in women over age 40. In most cases, breast implants which are removed and replaced are required to upsize or downsize the implants, not necessarily because the implant is damaged or worn out in any way.

The crucial defining criterion for whether breast implants need to be removed or replaced is really taken on a case-by-case basis. A patient who has had a couple of children, breastfed them and gained and lost weight may want to have a breast lift, and it’s usually a good idea to swap out the implants at the same time so as to make sure they conform to the new breast shape and prevent complications. However, if the patient is happy with the size, shape and feel of the breasts over time, and there is no indication of leakage or damage to the implant, there is no real purpose served by replacing the implant if the patient doesn’t feel it’s appropriate or necessary.

When considering any sort of cosmetic surgery, it is important for the patient to consider whether they feel like the surgeon they’re working with is a partner in their care or trying to take command of it. Dr. Pane prefers patients to educate and advocate for themselves and what they feel is best for their bodies, commensurate with the conditions and issues they raise and how these can best be treated. In an optimal doctor-patient relationship, the surgeon and patient together determine and agree on the best way to proceed, and then make it happen.

If you have a question about any facet of cosmetic surgery, the staff of Atlantic Coast Aesthetics is always ready and willing to discuss your needs and concerns. Simply follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn; email us through our site’s Contact page; or call us at (561) 422-4116. Your question may become the focus of an upcoming Ask Dr. Pane segment, helping us educate and inform other patients who share your interests. Remember, at ACA we believe the only bad question is the one you don’t ask!


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