Present day silicone gel and saline breast implants are designed to last long-term, but not forever. Most plastic surgeons advise that implants will last roughly 10 years before it’s time for a replacement, but individual cases may vary. Some patients prefer to replace their implants sooner than the 10-year window, but some implants can last for far longer. Breasts show signs of aging just like the skin on other parts of the body, and at some point, whether that’s 5, 10 or 15 years from now, a decision will need to be made on how to best replace them.
In some cases, patients develop a complication called capsular contracture, that can, at times, result in breast revision/exchange surgery. But in most cases, women desire a breast implant exchange due to an evolving appearance preference.
Why Would Someone Change Out Her Implants?
There are various reasons why a woman would want to replace her implants. She could desire a different aesthetic, as noted above, or there could be complications with the implant that need to be remediated. Complications include, but are not limited to:
- Implant rupture
- Capsular contracture
- Implant misplacement
While a rupture in saline implants is obvious (the punctured implant will deflate), silicone implant ruptures can be more difficult to identify. To avoid complications that can occur due to implant rupture, we recommend annual visits to your plastic surgeon in order to inspect the condition of your implants. Your surgeon may also utilize an MRI for a more in-depth examination on the status of your silicone implants
The complication referred to as capsular contracture occurs when the protective tissue that forms around the implant hardens. This condition cannot only change the shape of the breast implant, but it can also be quite painful and uncomfortable to the patient.
Implant misplacement, sometimes referred to as implant malposition, occurs when the implant moves from its initial placement because of weakened breast tissue. The implant could start to drift or it may drop underneath the inframammary fold (the fold underneath your breasts).
Looks and aesthetic preferences change in the blink of an eye. What was once desirable in 2005, may not be the same as what’s considered appealing in 2015. Moreover, implants that were once proportional to your frame, may no longer look natural or compliment your body like they used to.
Women’s bodies undergo things such as pregnancy, menopause, weight gain, weight loss and breastfeeding that can dramatically change the size and shape of her their breasts. These are all things to consider and take into account when choosing new implants for your implant exchange.
Make Sure You Have a Consultation Prior to This Procedure
As with any plastic surgery procedure, it is vital to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in Tampa prior to surgery. For a breast implant exchange it is even more critical. There are several moving parts to consider prior to undergoing this procedure. During your consultation, your plastic surgeon should review:
- Current condition of your natural breast tissue
- Skin color and health
- Condition and location of current implants
- Nipple location
You and your surgeon should also discuss the best treatment options for achieving the aesthetic you desire. For a lot of patients undergoing a breast implant exchange, this may involve a mastopexy, more commonly known as a breast lift.
Should You Consider a Breast Lift Too?
The easiest breast implant exchange procedure is when older, but healthy breast implants are swapped out with new implants that are the same size and shape. But, as we previously noted above, most women wanting a breast implant replacement are doing it to achieve a different aesthetic, not to treat a medical condition.
If the patient wants a smaller sized implant than what was originally placed — which has become more popular in recent years — most surgeons will recommend a breast lift in conjunction with the implant exchange. This is because when a large implant is removed, there is typically excess skin that needs to be tightened. The lift can help tighten the skin and excess tissue left behind from the removal of the large implant while also lifting the smaller implant and giving your breast a natural looking lift and shape.
Fat Grafting vs. Implants
Fat grafting is another option that can help improve the contour and appearance of your breasts. Fat grafting can be used on its own to improve the fullness of breasts and is an alternative to smaller implants.
Most women want their breasts to look full and voluminous, especially the top portion. By utilizing fat grafting to add fat to the top portion of the breast, you can achieve a soft, voluminous and shapely feminine look, while still appearing natural.