Every so often, a patient will come in and say, “I’ve had my breast implants for 20 years, and now I’m wondering if I need to get them replaced.” Sometimes, patients will even say, “I’ve had my breast implants for 30 years,” and they want to know if that is “too long”.
In fact, these concerns are not completely unfounded. Despite the durability of most modern breast implants, the devices are not meant to last an entire lifetime.
At some point, breast implant removal or replacement will be necessary.
How long you personally will be able to safely keep your breast implants depends on multiple factors, which we will discuss below. First, however, let’s look at the potential breast implant pros and cons.
Can Old Breast Implants Cause Problems?
Yes, it is possible for old breast implants to cause problems such as capsular contracture, ruptures, deflation, and in rare cases, breast implant illness (BII) or a specific cancer called breast implant-associated large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). However, these issues are not inherent in all old implants.
It’s really up to you to follow your plastic surgeon’s directions for breast implant care. Continue monitoring the state of your implants and the state of your overall health so that you can determine the best time for replacement or removal.
What Happens if You Don’t Replace Breast Implants?
For some, replacement of implants after 10 or 20 years will not be necessary, and the implants will continue to do what they were meant to do without issue. As long as your implants continue to fit your lifestyle and you are not having health issues related to them, there is generally no reason to have them removed.
With that said, after several decades or longer, it becomes unlikely that breast implants can stand the test of time. Eventually, most implants will fail by way of rupture, deflation, or other reasons. After this point, it’s important to have your implants removed or replaced for your own safety.
Should Breast Implants Be Removed After 20 Years?
This really depends. If, after 20 years, your implants are in good shape, you are in good overall health, and you are happy with the way your breasts look, there is really no reason to have your implants removed. However, do remember that your risk of rupture increases over time, so it’s important to continue monitoring your implants so that you can catch any ruptures or leaks before they cause problems.
Top Reasons for Implant Replacement or Removal
Rippling or wrinkles
Aesthetically, ripples and wrinkles can sometimes cause problems for patients. These surface issues are usually only noticed by touch, but sometimes, they are visible as well.
Rupture of silicone implants
When silicone implants rupture, it can be difficult to tell. Patients usually feel a burning or tingling sensation and will notice the size of their breasts appears uneven. Regular checks of silicone implants can help catch “silent ruptures”.
Rupture of saline implants
When saline implants rupture, it is instantly noticeable because the implant itself will literally deflate, and your body will absorb the leaked saline.
Implants may change position over time and end up looking uneven or off-center. This usually happens because of an extreme change in weight or because of aging. Some patients will opt to keep their implants and get a breast lift if this issue occurs.
After getting implants, scar tissue will naturally form around each device. Unfortunately, this tissue sometimes forms in a way that causes discomfort, tightness, and noticeable hardness on the breasts. The breasts may even appear misshapen.
Personal decision of patient
Finally, some patients simply decide that implants no longer fit their lifestyle. Body shapes and aesthetic preferences can change over time, and removal is an option when this happens.
Commonly Asked Questions About Breast Implant Replacement
What do breast implants look like when you’re old?
Aside from issues such as rupturing, capsular contracture, or implant related illnesses, in some women, implants can cause the breasts to sag more because of their weight. Sometimes, this is called “bottoming out”. Other issues may include implant displacement (when implants shift out of place) and capsular contracture (the overproduction of hard scar tissue around your implants).
Can your body reject breast implants years later?
Your body will not “reject” your implants. The term “rejection” is used for live tissue that is transplanted into someone’s body — as in the case of a liver transplant. In this case, the liver may be rejected by the body. While your body may not tolerate breast implants well — now, or after several years — your body will not “reject” them.
What happens if breast implant is left in too long?
If breast implants are left in too long and rupture or cause problems such as capsular contracture, breast implant illness, or something else, this will greatly affect your health.
In terms of immediate problems, as soon as an implant leaks or ruptures, you need to see a surgeon and have it removed for your safety. In most cases, replacement of the ruptured implant will be an option.
Can silicone breast implants last 30 years?
In rare cases, silicone breast implants may last for 30 years. However, most patients will decide to undergo replacement or removal surgery before this time.
Do you have to replace breast implants?
The lifespan of your implants can potentially be extended indefinitely. In actuality, there is no predetermined time frame for replacing breast implants. Saline or silicone implants typically have a lifespan of approximately 10 to 20 years, but they can endure beyond that. The need for implant replacement arises only when complications or issues arise.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Your overall health, how you appear physically, breast implant replacement costs, and other important factors will all influence your decision to undergo implant replacement or renewal. Concerns about after breast implant removal side effects is something many patients have questions about. Often, these considerations are too complex to weigh yourself — without input from a reputable plastic surgeon who will have your best interests in mind.
For this reason, if you’ve had your breast implants in for a considerable amount of time, we recommend booking a consultation with Dr. David Sieber to discuss your options. Dr. Sieber specializes in breast augmentation and implant removal and can help you make the best decision for you.