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How Do I Tell If My Breast Implants Need to Be Replaced?

Breast augmentation—when performed by a qualified surgeon using high-quality materials—is consistently ranked as one of the most popular and satisfying cosmetic procedures available. That said, silicone and saline breast implants are not designed to last forever, and patients should expect to have them replaced every 10-20 years. In some cases, however, circumstances may arise that call for earlier replacement or removal. Our Atlanta plastic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Lintner, is experienced with addressing concerns relating to breast implants, and he strives to be a reliable consultant throughout your cosmetic healthcare journey.

Common signs that may indicate it’s time for breast implant removal or exchange include:

Changing Aesthetic Interests

Even in cases where the implants are healthy and the initial breast augmentation results were satisfactory, patients may sometimes seek a revision due to changes in their aesthetic interests. Popular reasons for exchanging or removing implants include the desire to switch from saline to silicone implants (or vice versa), the desire to increase or decrease breast volume, or the desire to forego implants and return to one’s original breast appearance.

Ruptures or Leaks

A breast implant rupture or leak can result from physical trauma to the chest area or from the weakening of the implant shell over time. Affected saline implants are typically noticeable right away, as deflation occurs immediately and the saline solution that gives the implants their shape is (safely) absorbed by the body. Ruptured silicone implants are harder to detect, as the gel inside the implants is thicker and moves more slowly. In some cases, silicone implant patients may experience symptoms from a rupture, such as swelling or hardening of the breasts. However, many patients experience “silent ruptures,” which result in no symptoms and are therefore more difficult to identify. Dr. Lintner offers free annual follow-up appointments for all of his silicone breast implant patients to check for any signs of rupture or leakage. If any concerns are identified, they can be treated promptly.

Wrinkling or Rippling

Breast implant wrinkling or rippling can occur as a result of a variety of factors, including thin breast skin, deflated or underfilled implants, or scar tissue development. In most cases, rippling is a purely cosmetic concern, but the effects can be aesthetically displeasing and result in an undesirable breast texture. Dr. Lintner takes extra care when placing implants to mitigate the possibility of rippling, performing primarily submuscular (below the muscle) augmentations and helping patients choose implants that are optimally suited to their proportions. If you do notice implant wrinkling or rippling, he is happy to consult with you about your treatment options.

Implant Displacement or Shifting

Occasionally, breast implants may move or shift into a less desirable position. Implants may move away from the midline of the chest (lateral displacement), merge in the middle of the chest (symmastia), become asymmetrical, or fall below the natural breast crease. Depending on the cause of the displacement, the implants themselves may not need to be replaced. Instead, their position within the breast pocket can often be adjusted to minimize the possibility of future movement.

Capsular Contracture

In rare cases, the body can create excessive scar tissue around an implant, causing what is called “capsular contracture.” In these cases, the scar tissue typically tightens around the implant, resulting in hardened and oftentimes unnatural-looking breasts. More mild instances of capsular contracture may be largely asymptomatic, while more severe cases can cause the breasts to become sore and tender to the touch. If you are experiencing capsular contracture, Dr. Lintner can help assess your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment option.

To learn more about breast implant replacement or removal, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lintner, please contact Advanced Aesthetic Surgery today.