The rule of thumb or lets call it what it is the the Myth out there has been for a long time that breast implants should be changed every ten years, but is this really true?
Should breast implants be replaced at their tenth anniversary? If your breast implants are ten years old, is it time to change them? The question comes up in every Plastic Surgeon’s Office worldwide daily.
While it is unrealistic to expect that every breast implant will last indefinitely, routine implant replacement every 10 years is neither necessary nor justified. Implants in some women may last many years while in others they need to be replaced on one or more occasions if there is a problem. In essence, the exact life span of any implant is unpredictable
Why are Breast Implants Removed?
According to the FDA, breast implants are not considered lifetime devices. In order of occurrence, the most common reasons for breast implant removal are:
1) the patient’s desire to change implant size or style,
2) deflation and
3) capsular contracture. These three reasons account for about 90% of all the breast implants that are removed. Other less common reasons for implant removal and replacement include: implant malposition, wrinkling, palpability, breast pain and iatrogenic injury (inadvertently broken by a doctor). Not on the list: breast implants are ten years old.
If My Breast Implant are older are the More Likely it is to Fail?
If you are happy with your size, there is no indication of leakage, your breast remain soft and are not painful, the fact that your breast implants are ten years old is not a reason to have your implants removed or exchanged. The older the implant, the more likely it is to wear out, but most breast implants last longer than ten years.
For saline implants, leaks are pretty easy to determine. If saline filled breast implants leak, they flatten, and it is obvious that there is a leak. For the more common silicone gel filled breast implants, the shell of the implant can be damaged without any outward sign of leakage. This is termed a silent rupture. If you have silicone gel filled breast implants, the FDA recommends obtaining an MRI of your breasts at three years, and then every two years after surgery to check for a silent leak. If a leak is discovered, the implant should be removed, or replaced, to prevent gel migration and additional scar formation.
Breast Implant Warranties
The two most common Breast Implants used in any reputable Thailand Hospital are Mentor and SIlmed manufacturers both offering warranties on their breast implants. Both offer similar warranties, although the details vary by manufacturer and implant (saline vs. gel).
At the time of this post, both companies will replace a defective implant for free. Both companies will allow you to change style with the cost based on the differential between the current implant and the new style selected. If the new style costs more, you are charged only the difference in price in most cases. Financial support is also available during the first ten years to reduce the cost of the replacement surgery.
Details can be found on your breast implant manufacturer’s web site. For the Phuket, it will be either Silmed or Mentor. Click here for the Silmed Breast Implant Warranty or here for theMentor Breast Implant Warranty. If you do not know the manufacturer, please contact your plastic surgeon. They should keep a record of your implant manufacturer, catalogue number and size.
Breast Implant Revision Surgery
The bottom line is that most breast implants do not need to be replaced at ten years. If you have breast implant surgery in Thailand, it is reasonable to expect to need another surgery at some point in the future. The chances of having breast augmentation revision surgery within ten years of your initial breast augmentation is somewhere between 25% and 50%, and only about half of these breast augmentation revision surgeries involve replacing the breast implants. Reoperation rates are higher for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. If your breast implant has deflated, be certain to check your warranty. Most deflated implants will be replaced at no cost, and you many be eligible for assistance to defray the cost of surgery if the replacement occurs within ten years of your primary breast augmentation.
You do need to be aware how your breasts can change over the years. As we age our skin and muscle and breast change, so yes the implants may last our lifetime, but in say 20 years they may not still look the way you want. Being aware of this you need to factor in that it is possible in the future that you may need another operation to either lift or replace your implants, not cause they are damaged, but due to natural causes.
In closing if there is no problem why should a woman be subjected to the inconvenience, risks and costs of further surgery when there is no good reason to do so? If routine replacement every 10 years was important or beneficial, regulations would certainly exist to compel surgeons to replace every implant after 10 years – and clearly this is not the case!