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Breast Augmentation: Do I really need to have it done every ten years?

It has become a wide-spread myth—yes, myth—that breast implants must be replaced every ten years. While the breast augmentation procedure can be done at that rate if a patient so chooses, it is certainly not a necessity, nor will it negatively affect the health of the patient. But before we get into the nitty gritty, we should get back to basics.

What is a breast augmentation?

A breast augmentation is a surgical procedure in which breast implants are placed either above or below the chest muscles in order to enhance the look of the breasts. There are three types of implants—silicone, saline, and form stable, also known as gummy bear. Silicone is what most breast implant patients opt for, as they provide the most natural look and feel to the chest area. Saline implants, which are second most common, are filled with sterile salt water, and form stable implants are filled with a thicker type of silicone. The most significant difference between regular silicone implants and form stable implants, is the shape. Form stable takes on a more anatomical silhouette which mimics a breast that holds the most volume at the base.

Now, what was that about getting them done every decade? Well, the belief that implants need to be replaced after that amount of time comes from a debate regarding the longevity of breast implants. The problem with this, however, is that implant longevity varies greatly, and is entirely dependent on the implant type and the body it is being placed in. Many patients go a life time without replacing their implants, while others may feel the need to do it repeatedly over time. No two patients are the same when it comes to breast augmentations, so the generalization that everyone must get new implants every ten years is inaccurate and misleading.

Okay, but why do some people get them replaced while others don’t?

There are a few reasons why some might want to get their breasts re-done over time, but they may not be what you’d think:

  • Ptosis, better known as breast sagging. This is the most common reason a patient would want to exchange their implants. Breasts naturally sag as women age, and when they’re larger, they are even more so affected by gravity. It is difficult to predict how much time will pass before sagging occurs – if at all – because skin type, sun damage, nutritional habits, implant size, smoking, pregnancy, and how much support the patient wears can all affect it.
  • Difference in preference. Some patients find that after having them for some time, they would prefer either larger or smaller implants. This is another common reason for multiple procedures. Somebody who may have gotten significantly large implants in their twenties, for example, may find that they want a more modest size in their forties.
  • Capsular contracture. This occurs when a fibrous, scar-like tissue forms around the implants and changes their shape.
  • Implant rupture or leak. While it’s rare for an this to happen, it’s a possibility that patients should be aware of before getting a breast augmentation, as a second surgery may be necessary.

Some patients may never experience any of these things, and therefore never need or have the desire to replace their implants. Again, it all just depends on the implants and the person.

To learn more about breast augmentations, read more, or schedule a consultation.