Breast Implants are mechanical devices and have a limited life span. Anyone having breast surgery with implants, whether breast augmentation or reconstruction, should be aware of the likelihood of future surgery. Presently, at 6 years after implantation, saline implants have a rupture rate of 3%, while silicone gel implants have a rupture rate of 1%. The likelihood of rupture then continues to increase over the years. When an implant ruptures, revision surgery is indicated to remove and replace the implant.
Dr. Parva, board certified plastic surgeon, is often asked if implants should be replaced before they rupture. The answer depends on the type of implant.
With saline implants, the saline fluid is the same composition as our own body fluids so the saline is absorbed by the body and eliminated. Therefore, you can replace the implant when it ruptures and not necessarily before.
With silicone gel implants, it is difficult to definitively determine by physical exam if the implant is ruptured. In fact, that is the reason the FDA has recommended that women with gel implants have an MRI every 2 years to check for a rupture of the silicone implant. Therefore if a patient still appears to have an intact silicone implant after 20 to 25 years, Dr. Parva would recommend that she consider replacement.