Breast implants do not carry an expiration date. Dr. Carlos O. Chacon of Divino Plastic Surgery in San Diego has some patients who enjoy their original implants for many years and never require additional surgery to remove or replace them. As long as the implants are intact, have not caused any complications and the patient is happy with the appearance of her breasts, there is no need to exchange breast implants.
However, breast implants are not assumed to be lifetime devices. They need to be checked on a consistent basis. Some scenarios necessitate breast implant exchange. Here, Dr. Chacon explains when it makes sense to exchange breast implants for a new pair.
Your breast implant ruptures or leaks.
Modern breast implants are more durable than ever and very resistant to leaks and ruptures. The rate of implants leaking or rupturing is very small, at about 1 percent per year. Therefore, at one year after placement, there is a 1 percent chance they will leak or rupture; at 10 years, that risk increases to 10 percent.
If a saline implant leaks, it is usually apparent almost immediately. The liquid leaks out of the shell quickly and the breast appears noticeably smaller. If a silicone implant leaks, it is more difficult to detect a problem because the silicone usually does not travel very far outside the shell or the implant pocket, and the breast maintains its normal shape. Regular MRI tests are recommended to check the integrity of silicone implants.
In the case of a rupture or leak, Dr. Chacon must exchange the implant for a new one.
You develop capsular contracture or another complication.
Breast implant complications are rare but do occur on occasion. One example is capsular contracture, in which scar tissue forms and tightens around the implant, restricting its movement and causing the breast to look distorted. Another complication is an implant “bottoming out,” or sitting too low in the breast tissue and causing the nipple to point upward. A “double bubble” breast deformity can occur when a breast implant falls below the inframammary crease, where the breast meets the torso, causing a line or indentation across the bottom portion of the breast. The indentation creates the illusion of four breasts.
All of these complications are reasons to exchange breast implants. Sometimes, the pocket holding the implants needs to be fixed or recreated, or other surgical modifications need to be made.
You desire bigger or smaller implants.
Another common reason to exchange implants is if you want to increase or decrease your breast size. Perhaps you are in a different stage of life and wish for smaller, more modest breasts. Or, perhaps you didn’t achieve the dramatic results you originally wanted, and are hoping for an even bigger breast size. Dr. Chacon will work with you to help you select more appropriately sized implants, based on your goals.
For more information about breast implant exchange, please call 858-633-7546 or request a consultation online today.