Breast implants and leaking are the two main issues that concern patients seeking breast augmentation surgery. It is important to note that these devices, while they are notably durable, are not designed to last a lifetime.
Rupture happens when the filler material (saline or silicone gel) leaks out from the implant shell or silicone “bag.” According to some surveys, “spontaneous” was the most common reason for implant failure, followed by removal surgery and fat injection.
One survey has suggested that the average duration of rupture of saline was 5.6 years, and 12 years for silicone implants.
But the truth is, the lifespan of breast implants is highly variable. Some patients need their prostheses replaced within a few years after surgery, while others do not encounter any problem even though their implants are two decades old.
Nevertheless, most US implant manufacturers suggest that their products should last an average of 10 years, so they often based their product warranty on this assumption.
Contrary to popular belief, vigorous exercise does not affect the implant’s stability. In fact, most Inland Empire plastic surgery experts suggest that motion is effective in preventing capsular contracture in which copious amount of scar tissue forms around a synthetic device.
Meanwhile, breast implants and leaking symptoms will differ between saline and silicone implants.
Saline implants, which are filled with a sterile saltwater solution, will immediately deflate in the event of rupture. For this reason, the affected breast will appear smaller than the other, so diagnosis of the “problem” is easier, safer, and faster.
On the other hand, silicone implants may rupture “silently,” meaning there is no palpable or visible sign. Because they are filled with a highly cohesive gel that almost feels like the natural breast tissue, it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell whether they are leaking.
The consensus is that MRI is the best tool to diagnose a ruptured silicone implants. For this reason, the US Food and Drug Administration recommends regular screening at least every two years for the rest of the implant’s life. However, some doctors only encourage such practice if there is a good reason to suspect that the device is leaking.
Over time, silicone gel leak may irritate the surrounding tissue, which could eventually lead to capsular contracture, hardening or firmness of the tissue, lumps, or even pain.
However, the fifth generation silicone implants, also referred to as gummy bear implants, are highly resistant to leak because their filler material has a strong cross-linking (i.e., form stable and very firm, although still soft once inside the breast pocket).