Breast augmentations can have one of two common types of implants. While silicone implants are more natural looking and feeling, and are generally considered very safe, they are no longer considered lifelong devices, and must be replaced occasionally in order to prevent the possibility of a silicone rupture.

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Silicone Implants

Silicone implants, as opposed to their saline saltwater-filled counterparts which are filled only after insertion, are pre-filled with a silicone gel. Both types of implants have an outer silicone shell, but silicone implants contain the thick fluid silicone that more accurately resembles the consistency of natural human fat. Saline breast implants are available to almost anybody seeking reconstructive surgery (age minimums apply for augmentation), but in most cases silicone implants are favorable because they more closely replicate the look and feel of a natural human breast. In 2011, nearly 70 percent of all breast implant procedures in the United States used silicone implants over saline implants.

The Need For Regular Changing

Silicone implants are considered safe, and receive nearly unanimous approval and favor from plastic surgeons and health professionals around the country. However, most insist that these silicone implants should be regularly replaced, or at least inspected, in order to ensure that no leakage has occurred. Silicone implants were once considered and touted as lifelong devices, but the common consensus now is that the implants should be evaluated annually, with an implant exchange every 10 to 15 years.

The cause for concern is the possibility of an implant rupture, which can go almost completely undetected. If a saline implant ruptures, the sterile saltwater solution they are filled with will naturally be absorbed by the body, posing no significant threat. However, if a silicone implant ruptures, the body will form a long scar in order to wall off the spread of the silicone solution. This can eventually cause severe breast pain or lead to significant changes to the shape of the breast, which will require future surgeries.

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Best Practices For Implant Replacement

Being proactive is the key to preventing a silicone implant rupture, and ensuring that if one occurs, it is recognized and dealt with quickly. Women should have their silicone breast implants checked at least once a year, and consider replacing them every 10 years.

There are multiple ways to check the solidity of the implant. First, patients are able to schedule an MRI, which would be able to instantly detect any breaks or leaks from the implant. Second, women can undergo a basic mammogram from a licensed plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In the near future, it is suspected that ultrasound technology will be able to detect possible implant ruptures with great accuracy.