As other articles on this site have explored, breast augmentation is both a serious surgery and, for many, an expensive one. One of the most popular questions that clients tend to ask, therefore, is ‘how long will my breast implants last?’ While it would be ideal if implants stayed in the same position and condition for a lifetime, this is rarely the case, and it is common for women to require further procedures later down the line. However, the length of time an implant lasts varies on a number of different factors, from lifestyle to implant type. Below are some of the most common questions surrounding how long breast implants last.
What is the average life of breast implants?
While every individual’s case varies, it is estimated that breast implants are designed and made to last between 10-25 years. According to the NHS, 2 out of 3 women who have had breast enlargement surgery will go for over 10 years without having to have another procedure done. While this does mean that 1 in 3 women will have to have an operation completed within 10 years of first having implants inserted, this does not necessarily mean that it is because the implants have failed or ruptured. There may be a number of reasons why a client would decide to have new implants fitted or a procedure such as a breast lift – such as pregnancy, or opting for a different size implant.
In some cases, however, the implants will have become damaged or need replacing for either aesthetic or medical reasons. There are several possible reasons that this may happen.
What factors can affect how long breast implants last?
One of the most common reasons people have to replace breast implants is because one or both of the implants have ruptured. Implants are made of a tough outer material, and so they should not rupture easily; however, something such as a serious fall or car accident could of course cause enough impact to damage the implant. However, it is also possible for implants to rupture due to very small pressure applied over a long period of time – for example, if there is a crease in the implant, caused by the pocket not being large enough for the implant to begin with, then this could gradually lead to a small rupture. It is also possible that implants could be somewhat damaged before or during the procedure, leading them to later rupture.
Another factor that could definitely influence a client’s need to have further surgery is if they suffer from capsular contracture. This is when too much scar tissue forms around the implant, restricting them and making them feel hard or keeping them in an uncomfortable, unnatural position. The use of implants with a textured shell is thought to minimise the chance of this happening, and thus are a good option for those who would like the chance of their implants lasting longer.
Another factor that could affect how long your breast implants last is the size of the implants in proportion to your body. Implants that are very large and placed over the muscle with little breast tissue to support them can make the chest skin appear very stretched. There is also the possibility of visible rippling in cases such as these. Both of these can look aesthetically unappealing, and can appear worse over time.
As well as size, another influencing factor is the material that the implant is made from.
Saline vs silicone: which implants last the longest?
Saline implants are implants that are filled with saline solution once they are inserted into the body, while silicone implants are already filled with a gel. The choice between the two is often one of personal preference, and neither is really thought to last longer than the other. However, in the case of saline implants rupturing, it is thought that this is more likely to happen with implants that have been under-filled than those who have been filled with the correct amount of solution. This means that there is more room for your surgeon to perhaps make a mistake that could lead to your implants needing replacing sooner than if you had pre-filled saline implants.
However, many people prefer saline implants because it is at least very clear if they have ruptured. The implant will noticeably deflate as the saline solution leaks out of the implant and into the body (which is fortunately not at all dangerous). A rupture in a silicone implant is less obvious, and can often only be identified by going for a scan.
Before deciding to have breast augmentation surgery, it is important to make sure that you are prepared for the fact that you may have to have further surgery – and perhaps much sooner than you would like if something unfortunately goes wrong. However, while a lifespan of 10-25 years is often put forward by cosmetic surgeons, there is nothing to say that your implants won’t actually last you longer.