This is a very good topic on the longevity of implants, and it is a common question that I hear every day from my patients: “How often do my implants need to be replaced?” The common myth most people hear is that they should be replaced every 10 years. This may have been information related to the older generation implants. Implants have been made since the 1980’s, and they have gone through multiple generations. There are at least 3 to 4 generations of implants that have been made, and the integrity of the shell of each subsequent generation of implants is stronger than the previous.
Some women have had their implants for over 30 years! These are likely the first generation implants, and as the shell is not as strong as present implants, the silicone implants from the first generation develop what is called “gel bleed.” I have done several revisions on these types of implants, and the gel tends to seep slowly through the shell. This happens several years after the initial procedure, and that is when the capsular contracture develops as a late phenomenon.
The current generation of implants have a stronger shell integrity. A loose statistic is that the rupture rate is approximately 1% per year. However, newer implants rupture less than this. Saline implants have a very slightly higher rupture rate due to the rippling causing microfriction of the shell against itself over time.
I basically advise my patients that the implants do not need to be replaced unless there is a rupture or severe capsular contracture….other factors such as pain, change in size, etc. play a role in implant replacement as well.
Edward Park, M.D. Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery