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When Do I Need to Get My Breast Implants Replaced?6 min read

Advice from Northern Virginia's Leading Provider of Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

Silicone implants on hand and natural brest
Picture of Dr. Phillip Chang

Dr. Phillip Chang

Board Certified By The American Board of Plastic Surgeons.
Voted Top Plastic Surgeon in Loudoun, Virginia
Offices in Leesburg, Virginia.

Realself Verified Doctor

Breast implants are not meant to be lifetime devices.  The FDA recommends the exchange of silicone breast implants every 10 years due to the risk of a silent rupture.  However, short of that time, how do you know if and when it is time to replace your breast implants?  The answer to this question can sometimes be very difficult, particularly if you are dealing with newer semi-cohesive silicone breast implants which are designed not to leak.  

What is a breast implant rupture?

A breast implant rupture is the breakage or leak of your breast implant.  Breast implants are not meant to be lifetime devices.  The shell of a breast implant is made of a silicone polymer that can wear out or crack over time.  The shell will weaken with time just like any other mechanical device.  

Many studies have shown (through electron microscopic examination of ruptured breast implants) that a large percentage of breast implant ruptures are due in part to poor surgical technique. Amazingly, the implants are traumatized and weakened by the metal instruments used to place the implants during the surgery.  These ruptures could have been prevented by using a Keller Funnel to place the implant.

Play Video
Live surgical technique video showing Dr. Chang using the Keller Funnel to safely place a breast implant through very small incisions.

How do I know if I have a problem with my breast implants?

It is very easy to identify a rupture or leak of a saline filled breast implant. Saline filled breast implants are filled with salt water.  A leak of a saline implant resembles what would happen if you put a hole in a water balloon.  The water would leak out of the hole and diffuse harmlessly into the surrounding tissue.  You would immediately know.  A common scenario is a patient that notices a flat breast in the shower; it can be that fast.

It may be difficult to diagnose a breast implant rupture if you have the new generation silicone filled (or, gummy bear) breast implant.  The newest generation of silicone filled breast implants are designed such that silicone does not leak into the surrounding tissue.  They are made from semi-cohesive silicone technology.  They have been given the nickname of gummy bear implants because, if the implant is cut in half, the cut edges look like a gummy bear.  Although the implant has been made significantly safer, it has made checking for ruptures more difficult… because they no longer leak.

An MRI is required to confirm a ruptured breast implant.  Yearly breast exams by a physician also remains important.  Additionally, we encourage patients to perform monthly self-breast exams to check for any bumps or hardening of the implant. 

The FDA recommends patients with silicone breast implants to screen their implants for silent rupture at 3 years after the initial surgery, and then every 2 years thus after.  

What are some other reasons I may need to replace my implants

An breast implant rupture is not the only reason why you might want or need to replace your breast implants.  Most women have long histories with their breast implants without having any complications.  For a variety of reasons, up to 20% of women will replace their implants within 10 years of their placement.  Some reasons for replacing your implants include the desire to have a breast lift, the desire for a different size, the development of capsular contracture or rippling, and the peace of mind of knowing you have new breast implants. 

Breast Augmentation Revision Surgery in Northern Virginia

Dr. Chang is a board certified plastic surgeon well known for his specialty in corrective surgery after other cosmetic surgeries of the face and body.  These include secondary or revision of breast and body surgeries.  Out of town patients can fly in to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.  and stay across from our office at the Lansdowne Resort near Leesburg, Virginia.  Our helpful staff can assist you with making these arrangements at 703-729-5553.

FAQs: Breast Implant Replacement

Dr. Chang is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon located in Leesburg, Virginia across from INOVA Loudoun Hospital.  

While it is theoretically possible that a mammogram can result in a breast implant rupture, it is highly unusual.  If this possibility remains a concern for you, you can contact our office where we can perform an exam and send you for any appropriate tests. 

While it is theoretically possible that a seat belt can result in a breast implant rupture, it is highly unusual.  If this possibility remains a concern for you, you can contact our office where we can perform an exam and send you for any appropriate tests. 

The treatment of a saline breast implant can be as simple as making a small incision, finding the breast implant, and removing & replacing the implant with a new version.  If your implant remains under warranty, the manufacturer will pay a large percentage of the cost of replacement. 

The treatment of a silicone breast implant rupture is more complicated.  The older generation implants that are filled with liquid silicone can be difficult to address.  The silicone is very sticky and sticks to the surrounding tissue. It is important to remove all of the silicone.  It is important to identify surgeons who frequently deal with complex breast surgery such as Dr. Chang at Aesthetica to effectively remove the silicone, the shell, and propertly reconstruct the breast if needed. 

Let Us Help You!

Our office can provide you will helpful information, schedule a free consultation, and a 3D Vectra scan of your anticipated results!

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Our state-of-the-art medical facility provides a safe and convenient cosmetic oasis where world class technology and equipment is coupled with a caring, compassionate staff. You will be welcomed into a chic, inviting reception area and greeted by our friendly patient coordinator. Your treatment will be performed in one of our cutting edge suites, and then you will be escorted to our soothing, restorative recovery rooms. Concierge service and boutique amenities await at every stage of your journey.

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