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The Lifespan of Breast Implants

Posted January 16, 2012 in Breast Augmentation, Plastic Surgery

woman in bikini laying by beachIt is common for breast implants to last 10 or more years after they are placed during the breast augmentation procedure. However, women that undergo enlargement surgery should know that breast implants won’t last forever. The implant shell is made of silicone elastomer, a durable material that can sustain constant body movement for a long period of time. But eventually, the implant shell will become worn, resulting in the rippling or tearing of the implant. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only problems that result in the need for revision surgery; some patients also experience hardening of the implant, which is caused by capsular contracture.

Our San Francisco plastic surgery patients undergo secondary breast augmentation with Dr. Kimberly Henry to have their ruptured, rippled, or hardened implants replaced. Learn more about these implant complications:

Implant Rupture

When a saline implant ruptures, the body safely absorbs the saline solution. Because the implant quickly deflates, the affected breast loses its augmented size and shape. It is much less noticeable when a silicone gel implant ruptures. The filler material has been specially designed to maintain it form even if the shell tears. This prevents the body from absorbing the silicone upon rupture. However, it also makes it more difficult for patients to tell when the implant has ruptured. Patients may experience some breast pain and slight changes in the size and shape of the breasts after a silicone implant tears. An MRI can be performed to determine if an implant has ruptured and needs to be replaced.

Implant Rippling

Breast implant rippling occurs when the outer edges of the implant takes on a wavy appearance. Significant implant rippling can be seen and felt through the breast skin. Implant rippling is most common when:

  • Saline implants are placed
  • Saline implants are under filled
  • Textured implants are placed
  • Implants are placed above the chest muscle (the subglandular approach)
  • Implants are placed in women with thin soft tissue coverage
  • Implants are placed in women with thin skin

Hardened Implants

Hardening of breast implants occurs when scar tissue builds up around the implant. This is known as capsular contracture, an abnormal response that sometimes occurs when the immune system detects the presence of a foreign object. The formation of scar tissue constricts the breast, distorting its shape, causing pain, and resulting in an unnatural feel. Capsular contracture develops in about 5 percent of breast augmentation patients, and most of its causes remain unknown. However, experts have determined that certain factors may elevate your risk of the condition, including:

  • Subglandular implant placement
  • Seroma
  • Hematoma
  • Breast trauma
  • Bacterial infections
  • The spread of silicone molecules to the implant pocket
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Radiation treatment

Our San Francisco breast augmentation patients may be able to reduce their chances of developing capsular contracture with daily massages, starting a day or two after breast augmentation surgery.

Implant Revision Surgery

Although implant deflation, rippling, or capsular contracture may affect just one breast, Dr. Henry will replace the implants in both breasts during your revision operation. This helps keep the breasts looking as symmetrical as possible, and reduces the need for a separate revision operation. To schedule your breast implant revision operation with us, contact our practice today.

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