Unfortunately, breast implants often do not last for a lifetime. An estimated 20% of women need to have their implants replaced within 10 years of placement, and most are replaced for various reasons within 20 years of placement. In general, however, they do not need to be replaced unless they are causing problems of some kind. Here are some of the most common reasons for implant replacement.
Leaking or ruptured implants
The most common reason for implant replacement is a leak or rupture. If a saline implant leaks or ruptures, the only noticeable symptom is that the breast rapidly deflates. If a silicone implant leaks or ruptures, the thick sticky silicone may not move at all and thus the leak will not even be noticeable in most cases, unless it happens to causes breast pain. Ruptured or leaking implants of either type cause no health problems and the only reason to replace them is for cosmetic purposes.
The second most common reason for implant replacement is capsular contraction. A minority of women develop scar tissue around the implant that contracts around the implant. The breast develops a stiff, hard, lumpy feel and many women experience significant pain as the contraction progresses. Surgery to remove the scar tissue and place a new implant can correct the problem.
Changes due to breastfeeding
Many women who have implants placed prior to becoming mothers opt to have them replaced after they finish childbearing. The effects of pregnancy and breast-feeding on the shape of the breast can cause visible rippling of the implants in addition to natural changes in the shape and size of the breast, along with sagging due to gravity. A new implant along with a breast lift can restore the breast to its pre-motherhood appearance.
Some women simply decide they are no longer satisfied with their breast size or appearance, either due to changes in their lives, significant weight loss/weight gain, or due to the influence of gravity and time on their breasts. In these cases, they want a new implant that changes the size and appearance of their breast, usually accompanied by a breast lift procedure, in order to improve their appearance and quality of life.
Unfortunately, some women are diagnosed with breast cancer and require surgery on their breasts accompanied by breast reconstruction surgery. In some cases the original implants can be left in, but in many others, a new implant will need to be placed.