There is a lot of misconception surrounding breast implant longevity, with some patients thinking that it should be replaced every ten years. However, implant removal, with or without replacement, must only be done when there is some type of implant- or breast-related problem.
Perhaps the “10-year replacement” misconception stems from longitudinal studies suggesting that one out of five breast augmentation patients with silicone implants would need revision surgery.
However, revisions are only warranted when there are implant-related problems such as leak and malposition, or breast-related issues such as sagging appearance and capsular contracture.
Simply put, there is no point of replacing a “functioning,” stable breast implant.
Capsular contracture, according to studies, is one of the most common reasons for revision surgery. This happens when the scar capsule around the implant, which is the body’s natural response when it comes into contact with a syntethic material, becomes too copious and stiff.
Most cases of capsular contracture happen immediately after surgery or a few months afterward, which may affect one or both breasts. Many surgeons suggest that implant contamination at the time of surgery or low-grade infection during the healing stage are the most likely cause of the complication.
Nonetheless, capsular contracture may happen years after surgery, although with daily breast massage, or more aptly called implant displacement exercise, this could be prevented or at least minimized, as suggested by leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley.
The goal of breast massage is to maintain the malleability and “thinness” of the scar capsule, ultimately preventing capsular contracture, says Dr. Smiley who has performed thousands of breast augmentation surgeries (primary, revision, and reconstructive type).
While 20 percent of patients with silicone breast implants would need removal/revision surgery within a 10-year period, it is important to note that the studies involving their longevity were conducted before the introduction of the latest silicone implants.
In 2013, the fifth generation silicone implants, also referred to as gummy bear implants, were approved by the US Food and Drugs.
Gummy bear implants are notable for their durability thanks to their highly cohesive filler material that even after cutting their shell in half, no leak will occur. Hence, it is perceived that they have longer lifespan compared to saline and fourth generation silicone implants.