Silicone breast implants were taken off the US market in 1992 in the wake of thousands of lawsuits claiming they leaked and caused connective tissue disorders and cancer. The rupture of those implants was usually silent, which means most went unnoticed until they were detected by an MRI.
Over the course of my career, I’ve helped hundreds of women remove or replace their older silicone implants, and I’ve performed breast augmentations on many others. As with every type of cosmetic procedure, my role as a physician is neither to encourage nor discourage but to ensure that my patient is fully—and objectively—informed of the risks, both during the surgery itself and years later on.
A couple of things to keep in mind if you’re considering breast implants or having trouble with your breast implants:
Your implants aren’t made to last forever.
The life of breast implants, both silicone gel and saline, varies by person. Some may keep their original implants for 20 or 30 years. But, most will need to have them replaced much sooner than that. As a general rule of thumb, the older the breast implants, the greater the risk of developing complications. So, plan to replace them preemptively.
The better the dialogue, the better the outcome.
Breast augmentations have come a long way. Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all procedure. Board-certified plastic surgeons today are adept at tailoring every consideration to the patient’s needs and wants, from the size and shape of the breast, to the placement of the implants and the incisions. We are lucky enough to live in a time where most likely you will not experience trouble with your breast implants. Key to that process is communicating openly and honestly with your surgeon. If, for example, you developed larger than expected scar tissue from an earlier surgery, make sure your surgeon’s aware. It could impact your outcome here.
Keep a close watch!
Following your surgery, your surgeon will provide you with instructions for how to monitor your breast implants, which will include routine mammography screening for breast cancer. The FDA also recommends that those with silicone gel breast implants get MRI screenings three years after their surgery and every two years after that. In between, if you notice any sort of breast pain or other trouble with your breast implants, bring it to the attention of your primary care physician. Breast implants are far less likely to rupture than they once were, but it can still occur, and when they do, it’s usually without any obvious signs.