Do I Need to Get My Breast Implants Replaced?
Published on July 26, 2018 by Andrew Barnett
You’ve had your breast implants for a while. If you’re like many women, you’ve heard all about the infamous 10-year rule. It seems everything you read screams that you’ll need to replace your implants within this time frame. The truth is, only about 20% of women need breast revision surgery after ten years.
Having performed well over 5,000 breast surgeries throughout my career, I can tell you, every situation is unique. Some women may need to have their implants replaced within just a few years while others are perfectly happy with their augmentation decades later. Of course, having a skilled surgeon such as myself can prolong the life of your implants, and annual follow-up exams will go a long way to giving you peace of mind. As part of my practice, all of my patients who’ve had breast surgery are encouraged to come for annual check-up exams and I never charge for these follow up visits. With proper monitoring and care, your initial breast augmentation can last years. I recommend monthly self-exams along with physical exams on a regular basis.
There are five reasons that women commonly consider breast implant replacement (or BIR).
Change in implant size is sometimes desired with weight change or simply a change in your personal aesthetics. In general, but not always, women tend to favor smaller implants as they age. Weight gain, common with aging, may make your natural breast tissue larger, and since the size of your breasts is the sum of the natural breast tissue plus the implants, weight gain may be a reason for going smaller. On the other hand, with aging or following pregnancy, natural breast tissue may shrink, and larger implants may be necessary to maintain your desired size.
Breast droop, with age, after pregnancy, or with weight change, may be a reason for a breast lift, and if it’s been a few years since your implants were placed, this is a common time for breast implant change.
Other surgery (non-breast) such as facelift, liposuction, or tummy tuck, means a trip to the operating room. Changing your breast implants in conjunction with unrelated surgery saves money and recovery time. Since most breast implant changes are quick and relatively easy, doing it with other surgery makes sense.
Breast implant issues – deflation or rupture – eventually happen with all implants. Saline implants deflate (either slowly or rapidly) and this is easy to diagnose. Your breasts change size as the implant goes flat. There is no health risk but if you’re planning to replace the implant, it’s best to do it within 4-6 weeks after a deflation. After 4-6 weeks, the breast pocket where the implant is located tends to shrink to fit the smaller implant, and replacement may require additional surgery to re-open the pocket. Rupture of the silicone gel implants, particularly the current cohesive gel implants, can be difficult to diagnose by physical exam. Since the gel sticks together, even when the implant shell tears, the breast may not change shape or volume. Short of surgery to look at the implant, the best method of examining the implant is an MRI. An MRI detects about 85% of silicone gel breast implant ruptures. Like saline implants, rupture of a silicone gel implant is not an emergency, but once diagnosed, the implant should be removed and replaced within 4-6 weeks.
Non-implant complications, such as capsular contracture, wrinkling, implant position change, or desire to remove older textured implants may require surgical correction, and this is a common time to consider breast implant replacement.
The cost and recovery time for breast implant replacement varies based on what procedure is done. Simple replacement generally requires only one or two days off work, with return to unrestricted activity by 3 weeks. Pain is minimal to non-existent and usually, the same incision that was made for the original augmentation can be used again.
The only real way to determine if your implants need to be removed or replaced is through an in-person consultation. Remember, if I did your first breast surgery, you’re part of the Dr. Barnett Family, so no charge for the check up. If your surgery was performed by another doctor, you’re welcome to come in for a consultation and my regular initial consultation charges apply. New patients should do their best to get copies of their previous operative reports and information about the brand, style and size implants that were placed. If you don’t have this information, my office can help you obtain it from your previous surgeon.
What’s Right for Me?
Your second breast augmentation will be very similar to that of your initial surgery. I take pride in my personalized care and have helped many women achieve their desired results. At the time of your consultation, we’ll discuss your options in-depth.
Take the Next Step
Ready to look and feel your best? Schedule a consultation to discuss your options today. Consultations are available in both our San Francisco and Walnut Creek offices. You may schedule for either location by calling (415) 362-1221. Renee or Laurie will help you and answer any pre-consultation questions you may have!