Know when to replace breast implants

Breast enhancement surgery results typically last for many years, and as there is no expiration date for breast implants, it is difficult to determine when or if they need to be replaced. Women whose implants are intact and who are happy with the way their breasts look and feel, do not need to undergo a replacement surgery. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that implants are not devices that can last a lifetime. Therefore it is prudent for women to have regular check-ups with their surgeon to evaluate their breast implant health. If there is any change in the position or feel of the implants, or in a case of a rupture, women can have a secondary procedure to ensure breast safety.

Breast implants are typically long-lasting without any problems for many women. However, complications such as leakages implant rupture, capsular contraction or implant displacement can necessitate replacement. Leaks can cause an implant to become smaller or uneven. Saline-filled implant ruptures are easy to detect, as the implant deflates and the saline (salt water) is simply absorbed into the body safely. The procedure to replace the ruptured implant is fairly simple and can be performed under local anesthesia. On the other hand, Silicone implant ruptures are referred to as ‘silent ruptures’ as they are not immediately evident. The FDA recommends routine MRI scans for women with implants. If a rupture is detected, the implant should be replaced at the earliest.

Use MRI scan to monitor implants

Capsular contracture occurs when the scar tissue that forms around the implant thickens and firms causing the breast to feel hard, uncomfortable and may distort the appearance of the breast. This can be treated by removing the scar tissue causing the tight capsule, and replacing the implant with a new one of the same size and type. Most women, therefore, choose to replace their breast implants when they want to change the size or type of their implant, to change the implant to meet their body proportion and if there is leakage or rupture. It is therefore, important for women to monitor their implants with MRI scans. Although there is no clinical evidence that indicates that implants should be changed at any particular time interval, surgeons recommend that implants should be replaced in 10-15 years’ time for long-term safety. However, if a woman experiences any problems, then a secondary augmentation might be required earlier.

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