How Long Do Silicone Gel Implants Last?

Breast augmentation surgery is an extremely popular cosmetic procedure for women. In fact, it’s the most popular cosmetic surgery year in and year out, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The decision to have breast enhancement always involves planning and preparation. Something that often comes up in the consultation phase is the lifespan of silicone gel implants. Women frequently ask: how long do breast implants really last?

The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, silicone gel implants have quite a long life span. Even though they aren’t marketed as lifetime devices, some implant manufacturers are so confident in their product that they offer a lifetime replacement policy for the implant itself, excluding the surgical costs. Of course, aging occurs with implants just as it does with any device and they may eventually need to be replaced.

All that said, there is no reason to replace implants after a certain time period if you’re still happy with the results; if no problems arise, great! Many women have saline implants that are decades old, and the shells for both saline and silicone gel implants are similar. Modern silicone gel implants are extremely durable and have been proven to be very safe.

One rare problem that can shorten the lifespan of a silicone gel implant is a “silent rupture.” It is difficult to notice a silicone gel implant rupture because the newer generation of silicone implants are filled with a cohesive gel that behaves more like a solid than a liquid. Also, when any type of breast implant is placed, the patient’s tissue naturally forms a “capsule” around the implant as the area heals. This natural capsule can contain and conceal a silicone gel implant rupture. It’s good that the new cohesive gel is stable and unlikely to migrate, but the FDA still recommends checking for silent rupture with an MRI 3 years after implants are placed, and every 2 years after that.

Sometimes women elect to remove or replace their silicone gel implants even if there is no medically related reason to do so. Changes in lifestyle or goals for the body may cause women to revisit their initial decisions with regards to implant type, size, or shape. Things do change as life goes on, and that’s perfectly understandable. An experienced plastic surgeon can help when implant replacement is desired.

So while we can’t give an absolute answer to the question about how long silicone gel implants last, we can say that there is no expiration date! And they do not need to be replaced at regular intervals, despite some dubious advice to the contrary. Of course, it’s always important to continue regular self-exams for the sake of overall breast health, whether you have implants or not. If you’ve been considering breast augmentation surgery, our team is happy to share our expertise with you during an consultation.


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