Do Implants Need to be Routinely Changed? – The Most Common Myth About Breast Implants



Do breast implants need to be routinely changed?

One of the biggest myths about breast implants is that they need to be changed every ten years. I have no idea who started this rumor or why. If a saline implant leaks, it will deflate in a few days and the problem will be self-evident. If a silicone gel implant fails, the gel will be contained within the scar tissue capsule (all breast implants, both saline and silicone are surrounded by a naturally forming scar tissue capsule) and the volume of the breast will not change, although there may be some discomfort in the breast, or a change in the look or feel of the breast. Regardless, if you are doing well and there is no reason to suspect a failure of the implant, the implant does not need to be routinely changed. When I say the word “routinely”, I mean replacing the implant solely based upon how long the implant has been in place and for no other reason. If there is suspicion that the implant may be deflating or leaking, that is a totally different issue and is dealt with elsewhere in this website.

My opinion is based upon medical data. When silicone breast implants were re-approved by the FDA for use in the United States, there was a cohort (group of women in the silicone breast implant study) that were followed for ten years. The risk for implant rupture at ten years was 90.6%. And keep in mind, these women had implants that were two generations behind what we have now! So, how can I recommend 100 women change their breast implants at ten years just because 9 or ten of these women will have a ruptured implant, especially since there is no health hazard if your implant is ruptured? It simply makes no sense!

There are several reasons why to change an intact implant.

  • If a known failed implant is being replaced in one breast several years after the initial surgery, consideration might be given to replacing the other implant as you are already in the operating room and under anesthesia. This is a relative, not required, reason to change an implant.
  • Patient wishes to convert from saline to silicone gel implants to obtain the advantages of a silicone gel implant (more natural feel, less rippling and wrinkling).
  • Desire to change implant size
  • Switching from a textured to a smooth surface implant


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