It’s necessary to clarify that, although it’s believed that the prostheses are designed to last forever, their lifespan will vary in each case depending on the users and the cares they have. Patients should know that it’s not necessary to change a breast implant unless it’s broken, presents a capsular contracture or if it has another kind of abnormalities.
It’s not true that prostheses should be replaced every 10 years because, as we have said, time varies in each particular case and cannot be determined in advance. In general, the duration of breast prostheses will depend on the quality of the implant itself.
When should the prostheses should be replaced?
The duration of each prosthesis model will basically depend on the quality of the implant itself and on the degree of cohesiveness of the implant, that is, on the degree of compaction of the silicone gel with which it was manufactured.
To know exactly when it is necessary to change it, it’s advisable for patients to perform, at least every three years, an image test that confirms that the implants are in perfect condition. This test consists of a Magnetic Resonance or even an Ultrasound if your doctor feels comfortable enough. In addition, it is advisable to maintain contact every year or every six months with the plastic surgeon who performed the procedure to ensure that the prostheses remain well placed and in perfect condition.
Some alerts or signs that can guide the doctor to find out a rupture can be the hardening of the breast, irregularities in the breast or skin or asymmetries. It’s true that, in most cases, the patient doesn’t notice anything and the shape and texture of the breasts remains the same even with a broken implant, since the current models minimize to the maximum the negative effects in case of rupture. Hence the importance of a periodic review by resonance or ultrasound. The percentage of breakage according current the statistics is around 1%. Some manufacturers include lifetime warranties and some of them even offer medical expenses and anesthesia coverages.
Today’s prostheses, much more advanced, are estimated to last around 15 years or 20 years, since most of them are textured and the silicone with which they are filled is more viscous or cohesive, but that may vary in each patient.
The thing is, with the current state of silicone gel prostheses of high cohesiveness, the situation has changed radically, both in durability of the implant as in comfort and safety for the patient. The reason for all this is that these implants are made with highly cohesive silicone gel, in which the filling is more compact and doesn’t deform. Likewise, these implants are manufactured with multiple layers of outer shell that reduce the risk of deterioration.
With today’s technology, newly manufactured silicone and saline serum implants are much more resistant, last longer and much safer. The old prostheses implanted two or three decades ago – 80s and 90s– had a smoother texture, with a very weak outer shell in comparison to the current prostheses and with a much more liquid silicone with very low cohesiveness. In those years, the risk was much higher in terms of the possibility of leakage of silicone from the implant and therefore it was necessary to change them approximately every 10 years after their placement. Hence the belief that the risks increase after that time and that they must be changed within that period.
The combination of a much stronger outer layer that prevents leakage has completely eliminated the possible output of the silicone gel outside the implant. However, neither with these medical advances in the prosthesis are there reasons for the patient to be neglected and it’s essential that the medical examinations required by the plastic surgeon are performed to confirm the conditions of preservation of the prosthesis. You should not wait until you feel pain to visit your plastic surgeon or any other symptom.
Actual patients live with their implants in good condition for 15, 20 and even up to 25 years without any problems. But there are cases in which the implants must be changed within six months, one year or 5 years if an issue is presented.
Do I need to change the prostheses?
Many women only come to visit the plastic surgeon when a problem arises or if they feel any discomfort or pain in the chest. However, when you have mammary prostheses, you need to do some exams every year or every six months. After your review, the surgeon will determine if the patient really need a replacement.
Can prosthetics grow old?
Like any other object, prostheses also suffer a natural wear and tear over time, since it’s a product, like any other, that has its useful life. But currently, this wear doesn’t imply any risk of gel leakage. Simply replace the prosthesis when the surgeon thinks it’s necessary.
What are the essential cares to increase prostheses lifespan?
The users should prevent traumatisms in the area of the breast in order to avoid ruptures. It’s, basically, the same care as a woman who doesn’t wear a prosthesis since they don’t interfere with daily activities or require special care.
Reasons for changing breast prostheses
Normally, when an implant is removed, it’s to be replaced by another one through surgery that can vary in complexity depending on the cause. For example, when it comes to a broken implant, a complete capsulotomy is usually done, but if it’s changed because it’s already deteriorated and doesn’t seem safe or because the patient wants another volume, breast surgery will be required.
Main reasons for changing prostheses:
- Repeated capsular contractions: If this is the first time this problem occurs, it’s usually removed and replaced by another. But if a change has already been made, the best thing to do is to remove the implant without replacing it with any other prosthesis.
- Intra or extra-capsular rupture: Intra-capsular rupture is not very complicated, since the capsule prevents the silicone gel from contacting the patient’s tissues. In cases where the gel comes out of the capsule and is in contact with the breast tissue, inflammatory signs such as seroma, tightening of the breast tissue or even inflammation of the whole breast can occur. The advantage is that the doctor can remove the entire gel and the broken prosthesis, remove the entire capsule, change it and replace it with a new implant.
- When the patient’s body changes: It occurs when a woman increases or decreases in weight or has changed her aesthetic concept and no longer wants that breast volume. Many women admit that after operation they realized they didn’t want too much volume. In this case, it’s necessary to evaluate the size of the prosthesis and how much tissue has the patient, to analyze what percentage of the chest corresponds to the implant. The problem is when the prosthesis is large and the patient has little glandular tissue, because in that scenario it’s difficult for the breast to look good only by removing the prosthesis, so it will have to be replaced by a smaller one.
- Fear of having problems in the future: It happens when patients change their opinion and decide that they don’t want to have to have surgery again for reasons related to their prostheses. For example, because of the recovery it brings, the possible scarring, how it affects breastfeeding and so on. They should analyze with a surgeon the best option in these cases.