Revision / Replacement
It is important that women with breast implants keep in mind that like the majority of medical devices, breast implants are not designed to last a lifetime. Ideally, women with breast implants should have an annual examination by a board-certified plastic surgeon to check to see if their implants need to be replaced.
In most cases, women with implants may need to have at least one or more surgeries for routine implant replacement. Often times women will come up with additional reasons for having revision surgery other than just to replace the breast implants.
Leakage is a common reason why women may need more surgery, which can occur in both saline and silicone devices. With saline implants it may be easier to notice a leak as the breast becomes softer and smaller. Silicone gel implants may not be as apparent as with saline implants. Leaks in silicone implants are usually self-contained and leak out in the capsule or pocket of the implant. It is highly recommended to have a mammogram or possibly an ultrasound to help detect any possible leakage.
There are numerous reasons women wish or need to have implant revision. Some of the most common reasons why women may decide to have implant replacements include:
Women decide to have bigger or smaller implants
A woman's body changes with aging and desires breast implants to be in proportion to these changes
Breast implants may have an "empty" appearance at the top of the bust line
There is the occurrence of implant rippling or other distortions of shape and or implant hardening
Rupture of an implant may be related to the length of time it has been in the body. The general experience among plastic surgeons tends to be that implants last between 10-20 years. Breast implants of any type are not considered lifetime devices. Also, rupture may also be related to force or trauma, such as a blow to the chest in an auto accident.
With regard to saline implant ruptures, one usually knows when this occurs, as it deflates and a definite asymmetry becomes noticeable.
When silicone ruptures, it is often hard to tell since the silicone is usually contained within the capsule of scar that forms around the implant.
Another consideration is the failure rate of breast implants. One of the implant companies relates a failure rate of 2% per 7 years. A rupture within 3 years is unusual but not unheard of.
Informed consent is crucial to successful breast implant surgery. Informed consent results when patients are provided with all the facts and information necessary to make an educated decision to proceed with a medical treatment or surgical procedure. Full informed consent is in the best interests of both patients and physicians.
Patient Safety First
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its effort to ensure patients receive safe and effective medical devices. Patient safety is the primary concern of all plastic surgeons. Scientific studies on the safety of breast implants support the more than 30-year clinical experience that saline-filled breast implants are safe medical devices. The two societies support continued research on saline-filled breast implants.
Studies confirm that the vast majority of women who choose breast augmentation experience improvements in body image, self-esteem and quality of life.
Additionally, women who have undergone breast augmentation by board-certified plastic surgeons report that they are being adequately informed about the risks and benefits of breast implant surgery, and that their surgeons are responding to their questions and needs.