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Reader Question: How long do Breast Implants last?

Posted Jul 06 2009 12:00am

Reader Question:

I read someone said she had to get her implants re-done 20 or so years later. I thought that getting breast implants was a one-time thing. How long do breast implants last?

Breast implant surgery is definitely not to be considered a “one time thing.” That is one good finding that came out of the breast implant craziness of the 1990’s in the US; the time at which the FDA banned silicone gel implants and demanded studies.

Interestingly, the implants themselves are not always the problem that leads to re-operation. It can be the body’s reaction to them. Silicone gel breast implants in particular can encourage a more profound reaction requiring surgery to remove it and soften the breast. Take a look at a piece of a scar capsule that I removed for a woman who had had silicone breast implants about twenty years prior. These things harden the breast quite a bit.

Silicone Breast Implant Capsule

Silicone Breast Implant Capsule

Saline implants do not encourage this kind of reaction (much less so,) but they can break flattening the breast on that side and leading to the need for a replacement operation. With these things being considered, breast implants should probably be considered to have a “lifespan” of ten years on average.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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