Do Breast Implants Expire In 10 Years?

Breast implants do NOT expire.

There are many myths surrounding this topic. The myths exist because of medical studies that are misinterpreted in the media.

But I will say it again, breast implants do NOT expire.

If you get breast implants, one of three things can happen:

1) You may get a replacement because you WANT a change

2) You may NEED a replacement because of a complication with your implants

3) You may keep the same implants indefinitely as long as you don’t meet criteria 1 and 2

The myth of the "10 year expiration" came from studies that were done over a 10-year period. The number 10 is a long term follow-up, but in the future we’ll see 15 and 20 year follow ups.

When these studies were interpreted and published for the public (in the media and internet), they did NOT distinguish between women who WANTED to get another procedure, and those who NEEDED one.

Among those who WANTED another procedure, the reasons were varied. Some wanted larger implants. Some breastfed and wanted new implants with a breast lift. Note that getting another procedure done does not mean that they were unhappy with their results. In a 10-year period, your body can change and it's also possible for your preferences to change as well.

Then there were the patients who NEEDED to remove/replace their implant.

Long term, there are two complications that result in a woman needing another procedure. These are capsular contraction and the implant rupturing. (Capsular contracture is most likely to happen within the first year.) These are known and accepted risks of a breast augmentation.

Ten-year studies show that capsular contracture happens at a rate of 2% a year, and rupturing at 1% per year.

There is no way to completely avoid these risks. Some studies suggest that minimizing the chance of bacterial contamination may reduce the chances of capsular contracture.

In my practice, I reduce the chances of bacterial contamination by 1) doing the incision in the inframammary fold (breast crease) because there is higher risk of contamination going through the areola and 2) using what’s called a “Keller Funnel” to insert the implant 3) practicing “no touch technique” in which the surgeon never touches the implant and 4) using antibiotic irrigation to wash the implant pocket.

That said, the risk cannot be eliminated 100%. That's the nature of surgery. It is something you will have to accept if you decide to get a breast augmentation.

If one of these two complications happens--whether in 1 year, 10 years, or 20 years-- you may need a removal/replacement, depending on the severity. If neither complication happens, and you are happy with your implants, there is no need to have another procedure.

I have had consults where patients are concerned that they've had implants for 10 years or more. Have they had either of these two complications? No. I ask them, “Are you still happy with your results?” Yes. In that case, there is no need to do anything.

What To Do With This Information

There are benefits and risks to a breast augmentation, like any other surgical procedure. (Most big decisions in life have benefits and risks.) And you also have the alternative of doing nothing.
As a patient, the best you can do is understand and accept this reality, and make a decision based on that.

The key is to ask yourself, "How much do I want this? For me, is it worth the actual cost? Also, is it worth the potential cost in the unfortunate case of a complication?" Those are subjective criteria. They are not facts, but, at the end of the day, it's what it comes down to. It's a very personal decision only you can make.

That said, on RealSelf, 96% of women who have breast augmentations are very happy they did. And, in my experience, they almost always say, "I wish I had done this sooner." The reason for this wish is simple: they love the way they look and feel, and wish that they had experienced this boost in confidence sooner in their lives.

Keep doing the research that you are doing. Getting your doubts addressed and your questions answered will help you come to a decision. The best patients are informed patients.

Now that you have learned about the myths of implant expiration, I suggest to read up on other topics, such as implant size, shapes, and questions surrounding pregnancy and implants.

And be sure to go to many consultations. Doing so will actually save you time overall. A consultation is where you will get the best quality information directly from a plastic surgeon.