Breast augmentation surgeries are often viewed as one-time procedures. But before you choose breast augmentation it is important to understand that having breast augmentation will mean that you should plan for another surgery in the future. Almost every woman who receives breast implants will eventually have them replaced for one reason or another. At Banff Plastic Surgery, we are just as concerned about our patients’ long-term results as we are with their initial surgeries. We want to keep you informed about what to expect when you choose a breast augmentation with implants — that way, you can make the best decisions about the right cosmetic procedures for you and your body, both now and in the future. Plan ahead by familiarizing yourself with these common reasons that women may want to replace their breast implants.
An Older Implant
Technically speaking, breast implants do not come with an “expiration date” after which they must be replaced. In fact, most current breast implants come with a lifetime warranty. However, from a practical standpoint, experts (plastic surgeons, to the US Food and Drug Administration, and Health Canada), advise that it is best to treat implants as long-term but temporary products. Statistics show that the longer you have the same set of breast implants, the higher your risk of rupture or other complications. The same is true for other implanted medical devices such as artificial knees and pacemakers. Most plastic surgeons will recommend replacing your breast implants only if you are experiencing symptoms, most commonly around 15-20 years after your initial augmentation surgery. Even if you reach 20 or more years post-op and have not experienced any complications, you should consider having an assessment with a plastic surgeon to discuss possible replacement or even removal.
A Ruptured Implant
Implant rupture is relatively rare — in one study published in the Archives of Plastic Surgery, an approximate average of only 6% of women experienced a rupture in the first ten years following their surgery. The newer implants currently allowed in Canada and the US have much stronger and longer lasting envelopes.
The word “rupture” is actually a bit misleading – the implant envelope can develop a tiny hole and the saline or silicone gel can leak out. Saline implant leaks result in rapid collapse or “deflation” because your body merely absorbs the saline solution, while silicone leaks can go undetected. This is not harmful to your health. The silicone gel usually stays within the capsule (which your body formed around the implant after it was inserted) and rarely does it leak outside the capsule. You should check with your plastic surgeon if you experience any changes in your breasts over time. Mammograms and even MRI’s are not 100% reliable at detecting leaks or ruptures. The 100% way to find a rupture is to do surgery to check. Even if an implant has a rupture it is not urgent to have surgery to correct it. Usually a Plastic Surgeon will recommend a revision but not because your health is at risk. It is important that you take the time you need to make the right decision for your preferences and longevity when choosing your revision surgery.
A Revision Surgery
In other cases, as your breasts naturally change shape and position over time, you may find that you are no longer happy with the shape of your breasts. Many factors can affect your breast shape including having children and aging. Some people will develop capsular contracture. If your breasts have sagged over time, a breast lift may be indicated. This might be a good time to replace or even remove your implants. If you become dissatisfied with the results of your augmentation for any reason, you should contact your plastic surgeon to talk about your options.
Breast augmentations are long-lasting procedures, but they are not necessarily permanent. During your consultation with your surgeon, you can talk in more detail about the approximate longevity of the type and brand of implant that you choose for your surgery. For more information about breast augmentations and implant options in Alberta, contact Banff Plastic Surgery today. You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay, our plastic surgeon, who is internationally recognized for her expertise in breast surgeries and many other cosmetic procedures. Call us at 403-762-2055 to find out if our services might be the right fit for you and your aesthetic goals.