Patients often come in to their breast augmentation consult thinking that they will need new implants every 10 years. This is usually not the case.
Unlike tires, breast implants do not need to be rotated or changed out every 50,000 miles. The newest generation devices are well made and generally do not need to be disturbed unless there is an evident problem. Like tires, however, breast implants are mechanical devices and do suffer failures. That is all part of the consent process. Fortunately, the major device manufacturers offer very good warranties.
Another reason for an implant change might be a size change. I work very hard to counsel patients on implant size and emphasize that the choice is ultimately theirs. We play the rice game – where everyone is a winner. One of our staff sizes the patient using rice bags in a bra instead of an implant. This helps make sense of how a 300 cc implant might look in clothes versus a 400 cc implant.
Over time, especially with old silicone device leakage, there may be capsular contracture (see Case of the Month). In this case, a capsulectomy (removal of the calcified scar and old implant) are performed and a new implant placed. Finally, the breast overlying the implant changes with time, so the breast may benefit from a larger implant or even a lift.
Mark D. Wigod, MD, FACS, providing cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery to Boise, Meridian, Treasure Valley and Southeastern Idaho.