This is a very common question that I receive in my consults and that I often answer on Real Self. As we all know, anyone can write an article on the internet and oftentimes, people assume that the author knows what they are talking about about and the advice is accepted. A very poorly educated person wrote an article that I keep hearing about which states, “You should change your implants every 10 years.” I categorically think this is ill-conceived. I have seen plenty of my own patients, as well as other plastic surgeon’s patients with breast implants, that are more than 10 years old and they both look and feel excellent! Why would I want to suggest that they change them?
There are only 3 reasons why I feel implants should be changed:
- There is an obvious and significant leak.
If you have saline implants, this means that your implant has deflated. How will you know that? Because you will go back to looking like you did before you had your breast implants. Usually this leak happens overnight and most times, has nothing to do with trauma or any causative factor. There will be an obvious difference from side and side. There will also be an obvious side difference from what it looked like a few days ago. With silicone implants, the decision is much less clear. With all of the newer silicone implants, the silicone is cohesive and tends to hold its shape. It is much less clear how to handle a small tear in the shell, since the material is far less likely to leak out.
- They have gotten hard to the point of being uncomfortable and not looking good anymore.
The implants can be changed and the scar tissue removed (capsulectomy). There is a risk that the capsule (firm scarring) can return, despite the surgeon’s best efforts. This risk increases with the passage of time. However, I have seen many breast implants that are older than 15 years that look and feel excellent and occasionally will see this to be true for even older implants.
- You want to go either larger or smaller.
It is important to remember that with time, things tend to go south and skin loses its elasticity. It is not uncommon that with time, your breasts will gradually sag. This does not necessitate changing your implants. Rather, you can get a breast lift (there are different types of lifts) to put the breast back up and centered on your implants.
If you’d like further information specific to your situation, please call my office at 703-406-2444 to schedule a complimentary, private consultation with me.