Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, the techniques and technology used in plastic surgery have become incredibly advanced, enabling skilled surgeons to safely create beautiful results while minimizing scars and patient down time. One great example of this are the developments that have been made in breast augmentation with implants, allowing plastic surgeons today to create full, beautiful breasts without leaving a single scar on the breast itself through the use of tiny incisions located discreetly underneath the arm. With all of the advancements that has been made, it is easy to think that plastic surgery is a one-and-done easy solution that requires no follow-up. However, when it comes to procedures like breast implantation that place a synthetic material inside the body, regular “maintenance” is an important part of long term care. This blog post will briefly introduce the types of implants before answering the common questions of “how long do breast implants last?” and “when should I change my implants?”
Breast implants can be divided into two main groups, saline and silicone. Saline implants are composed of a thin outer shell that is then filled up with sterile saline solution once in position, similar to a water balloon. Silicone implants are solid throughout, and made of soft silicone that is designed to mimic the look and feel of natural breast tissue. Dr. Traci Temmen is experienced at breast augmentation with both types of implants, as well as multiple difference approaches to scar placement (under the arm, around the areola, or in the fold under the breast), and consistently produces beautiful results. The various options for implant type, size, and surgical approach should all be explained in one-on-one conversations between the patient and their plastic surgeon. Dr. Temmen recognizes that all of these choices can be overwhelming, and takes her time in making sure each patient understands their options and feels supported in choosing the best one for her.
Whether a patient ultimately chooses saline or silicone implants, both options will require some monitoring and maintenance over time. In fact, this is true for any medical device in the body, such as a pacemaker or knee replacement. In general, most implants should be expected to last between 10 and 15 years. Of course, this is an average with some women experiencing a problem with their implant before the 10-year mark and others being fortunate enough to not have any issues more than 20 years later.
Even with a perfect surgery, there is always a risk of long term complications such as implant leak/rupture, troublesome scar formation, capsular contracture, or implant malposition. These complications contribute to a reoperation rate of approximately 10-25% over a 10-year period. Ideally, any women with breast implants should go in for an annual check-up with their plastic surgeon for assessment over time. In the case of implant leak/rupture, generally a saline implant that leaks will be visible to the patient as the breast will decrease in size, prompting the patient to return to clinic. In contrast, a silicone implant leak may be “silent” or not noticed by the patient because the implant is composed of solid silicone throughout and so will still hold its shape. At first, the silicone from a leaking implant will remain contained within the capsule of scar tissue that the body forms around the implant. However, over time, this silicone may permeate the scar tissue and leak out into the surrounding breast tissue or even local lymph nodes. Thus, it is important to be able to detect leaks in silicone implants even if they are not noticable from an aesthetic standpoint. For this reason, it is generally recommended that women with silicone implants receive an MRI on the 3rd anniversary of their implants and every 2-3 years afterwards to assess for this complication. Implants that have ruptured will need to be removed or replaced. A board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Temmen is trained not in the surgical side of breast augmentation, but also in the proper management of any complication that occurs down the road, ensuring that any issue that arises is promptly and appropriately addressed. In cases where a patient needs or desires for her implants to be removed, Dr. Temmen offers several options including simple removal, implant replacement, implant removal with fat transfer to the breast, and implant removal with breast lift to ensure that there is an option for every patient that keeps them feeling confident and beautiful. These options can be read about in more detail under the Breast tab of this website as well as in previous blog posts.
Breast implants are a great option for many women looking to increase the size and enhance the shape of their breasts. While patients are understandably more excited to pick out and receive their implants than to follow-up with them over time, this maintenance is important so that complications that require action can be detected and resolved quickly. When Dr. Traci Temmen performs breast augmentation with implants for a patient, she is committed not just to the immediate result but also to monitoring that patient over time and addressing any issues that arise in the years to follow. This is another reason it is especially important to select a plastic surgeon who is experienced, thorough, and capable of managing the care of you and your implants over time.
To view real examples of patient transformations following breast implantation, please navigate to the Gallery section of this website. If you would like to learn more about breast augmentation with implants or any other plastic surgery you are interested in, simply call 813-771-6393 to book your one-on-one consultation with Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Traci Temmen, MD, today.