Posted by Dr Chris Porter on Mar 02, 2018
This is a question that most of my patients ask at our first consultation. It is a good question, as there are very mixed messages from well meaning sources on the internet. The short answer is that there is no specific time after surgery that you need your implants changed. However, it is possible that you will need new implants at some stage so how will you know?
Immediately after you have your breast augmentation surgery your breasts will be full, round and sitting high on your chest. Once your post-operative healing and swelling has settled your breasts will be soft, perky and have a natural shape. Ideally this desirable result will give you many years of happiness, but changes can occur. What breast implant problems are there?
What is Capsular Contracture?
Your natural bodily response to breast implants (just like all medical implants, for example, hip joint replacements or heart pacemakers) is to form a thin layer or scar tissue in order to seal off the implant. This forms a capsule which does not cause any problems. In some individuals the capsule can thicken over the years and tighten around the implant. This is known as a capsular contracture and if significant enough it can cause shape change, firmness and discomfort. Capsular contracture is treated surgically with removal of the implant and capsule, new implants can be reinserted.
What is Breast Implant Failure?
Breast implants are made in different shapes and sizes, they also have different shells and fills. Implants are typically either filled with saline or silicone gel (“gummy bear”). The shells are all made from silicone and can be textured or smooth surfaced. The shells are soft but robust enough to cope with reasonably significant force. However, the shells can fail causing the fill to leak. If the breast implant fill is saline then the breast can deflate quickly as the saline is absorbed by the body. This is obvious as it almost like a car tire going flat. If the fill is silicone gel then the leak can be partial and due to it being contained within the capsule the leak maybe silent with no obvious change in the breast. If your breast implant fails within 10 years it maybe financially covered by the breast implant manufacturer’s warranty, best to check with your plastic surgeon.
Should I have my implants checked regularly?
There is no indication for regular checks by your plastic surgeon or with imaging, such as mammograms, ultrasounds or MRI. You should enjoy your breast augmentation, undertake unrestricted everyday activities and only seek medical care if you have changes, such as lumpiness, discomfort, change in shape or size. If you are over 45 years of age, regardless of having breast implants or not, you should also be registered in a breast cancer screening program and undertake regular breast self examination. If you have any concerns do not delay having your breasts and implants checked by your plastic surgeon.