PATIENT RESOURCES / DR’s Blog

The Longevity of Breast Implants: Do They Have To Be Replaced?

by | Breast Augmentation, Breast Reconstruction

I see a lot of patients for breast surgery. It is a significant part of my practise. I do both cosmetic breast surgery and reconstructive breast surgery. One of the questions that I often get from both groups is how long will my implants last? I tell my patients that we really don’t know. In general, they are very robust. There are YouTube videos of plastic surgeons driving over implants without them rupturing. I myself have done lots of surgery on patients who have had implants in for 30-40 years. When I remove them, they are often perfectly intact. And those are often the old liquid silicone implants. If implants from that long ago have lasted, who knows how long today’s technologically superior breast implants will last.

What are the differences between silicone and “gummy bear implants”?

breast implants The history of breast implants in Canada has seen a lot of different implants over the last few decades. The breast implants available on the market before 1992 were liquid silicone or saline. If the liquid silicone were cut in half, they would pour very slowly like cold honey. From 1992 until 2002, there were no silicone implants on the market in Canada, only saline (which incidentally are a silicone shell that holds saline). During this time, the major manufacturers did a lot of research to design a better implant, and the scientific world spent a lot of time making sure that breast implants were safe. After 2002, silicone breast implants were re-introduced. However, the new models of implants were with cohesive gel. Essentially, the cross-linking of the silicone made them a solid device, not a liquid. If you cut them open they will not leak. They are commonly referred to as “gummy bear” implants.

Much like if you cut a gummy bear in half, you would see the inside but it would not leak any gummy material. Again like a gummy bear, even if the outer shell is breached the inner content is the same material. The amazing thing, is that despite being a solid they still feel soft and natural. The amount of research and testing required to introduce cohesive gel implants into the market was staggering. So, from a safety perspective they are tremendous. Regarding longevity, I think it is really hard to estimate how long they will last. Ten years seems to be a number that people throw around, but I don’t know what people are basing that on for cohesive gel silicone implants.

Do breast implants need to be replaced post-pregnancy?

The two most likely reasons that people may want further breast implant surgery are: one, they develop a capsular contracture that needs to be released; and two, they get droopiness (from pregnancy, breast feeding or weight changes) and want a breast lift.

A common misconception that I often hear is that a patient’s implants got smaller from pregnancy or breastfeeding. In reality, the only implants available now that will change size is a ruptured saline implant. Generally it is not a slow leak, but a fairly fast rupture, like a broken water balloon. The most common spot is at the self-sealing port. (When the implant is placed in the breast it is then inflated with saline through a tube. This tube is pulled free from the implant and the port seals over). When a leak happens with a saline implant, the fluid may stay in the breast capsule for a while, but would soon be re-absorbed by the body. It is not a concern if that happens. The saline used to fill the implant is the same saline that would be used in your IV during surgery.

With that being said, pregnancy and breast feeding do not affect the implant. What usually happens is that breast tissue swells from hormonal changes and milk production. Any weight gain during pregnancy will also increase the fat volume in the breast. These changes may last several months after stopping breast feeding. At that time the milk glands shrink, and the fat of the breast also generally gets smaller as you loose your pregnancy weight. This results in a breast that is smaller, but often has stretched-out skin resulting in droopiness. To obtain a perky breast in that setting, either a larger breast implant can be used or a breast lift done. There are pros and cons that have to be considered with either option, something I spend a lot of time discussing with my patients.

How do you fix droopy breasts?

A slightly larger breast implant may fill the lax tissue and give a little bit of lift. However, I would caution people not to go too large with the implant. The bigger they are, the harder they fall! For women that have droopy breasts, quite often the tissue has become lax and is not ideal for keeping an implant “up” if it is too heavy. This would result in further stretching of tissue and a recurrence of the breast droopiness. The other option is to do a breast lift. There are several ways of doing this procedure, depending on how much lift is required. The obvious goal is to minimize the scars. The breast lift can be done without changing the existing implant, should you wish.

So my advice to patients is to enjoy your breast implants! Get a regular mammogram or ultrasound screening as advised by your family doctor, based on your age and risk factors for breast cancer. If you have a concern about your implant, go and see your plastic surgeon. I don’t think that anyone needs to change their implant just because it is X years old. To me that sounds like a cash grab. If a problem arises, do it then. Otherwise spend your money on something fun. As your Granny would say, “Don’t trouble trouble, until trouble troubles you”. .

If you are interested in learning more or having a private consultation please click here or telephone 905-849-4282.

Dr Rodger Shortt strives to be the best aesthetic, reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgeon. He is committed to providing high quality patient care and achieving excellent results. He is considered one of the top plastic surgeons and one of the few plastic surgeons in Canada that has the top rating of five stars in Realself, Rate MD, and Ontario Doctor review. Dr Rodger Shortt is a specialist plastic surgeon who graduated from Queen’s Medical School in 2004 and became certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2009. He received further sub-specialty fellowship training with international plastic surgeons in micro-vascular breast reconstruction, cosmetic plastic surgery, and body contouring after bariatric (gastric banding) surgery, significant weight loss or post-pregnancy. He is the Director of Cosmetic Surgery Training at McMaster University and an Assistant Clinical Professor. If you are interested in a consultation with Dr Shortt please contact 905-849-4282 or through www.drshortt.com.

 

 

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Fabulous Doctor, Extremely smart ( like Mensa IQ ) with attention to detail.

Fabulous Doctor, Extremely smart ( like Mensa IQ) with attention to detail. Confident, clear, and precise in conversations. Hand surgery was done extremely well with 4 breaks in one shattered bone. Bone was wrapped and pinned in titanium chain links and micro screwed. Recover has been excellent I have 100% of mobility in my hand and work in home renovation. The scar is small pin sized line, not noticeable; no extra bumps or blemishes. Truly a five star surgeon. I am hoping he does face surgery.

I was so pleased that my GP referred me to Dr Shortt

I was so pleased that my GP referred me to Dr Shortt, for knee surgery. Excellent caring Doctor, if you need plastic surgery place Dr. Shortt, at the top of your list. Great experience, great results, this Doc, is a 10!

I simply cannot find enough superlatives to express my gratitude

I simply cannot find enough superlatives to express my gratitude to Dr. Short for his wonderful work.
I have, for many years now, had numerous black moles and dark spots on my face and they seemed to be multiplying. Dr. Short removed over 40 of these and when I left his office, I have to admit, I was worried. I looked pretty rough. But there are no crevices or dips in my skin (of which I thought there’d be many) and most incredibly there is no visible scarring at all. It’s hard for me to say how much better I feel now. I have a refreshed, natural look. I am a career musician and in the public eye so, needless to say, I feel so much more confident about my appearance.
Dr. Short was honest with me from the beginning. He clearly explained options to me but never made me feel that he was up selling other services. I was fearful and had huge reservations about having anybody touch my face but everything about my experience with Dr. Short and his staff was positive and I would have absolutely no hesitation to recommend him. He has my sincere thanks.

You can tell the enthusiasm and passion Dr.Shortt has for his work

From the get go the professionalism and expertise I had received far surpassed those from other consultations I had done. I had gone in for a breast augmentation and am amazed from the results. You can tell the enthusiasm and passion Dr.Shortt has for his work. He had stated that afterwards my breast would look “perfect”, I figured anything would be better then what I had. Unbelieving then, here I am now absolutely thrilled with the results. I had a tattoo where the implant incision would be, to my surprise Dr. Shortt was able to work around it as well.

Breast Augmentation – What an Amazing Doctor !

From the get go the professionalism and expertise I had received far surpassed those from other consultations I had done. I had gone in for a breast augmentation and am amazed from the results. You can tell the enthusiasm and passion Dr.Shortt has for his work. He had stated that afterwards my breast would look “perfect”, I figured anything would be better then what I had. Unbelieving then, here I am now absolutely thrilled with the results.

I had a tattoo where the implant insission would be, to my surprise Dr. Shortt was able to work around it as well.

The day of my surgery Dr. Shortt and his team made me feel very comfortable and well taken care of. Thank you again !

Dr. Shortt has a great eye and is a creative visionary

Everyone reacts differently to a diagnosis / treatment of breast cancer. For me, after the mastectomy, I no longer felt whole. I decided reconstructive surgery was the answer which was very intense – but no regrets. The results were good but I still felt a little mismatched. My surgeon referred me to Dr. Shortt. Like so many others on this site, I felt like he knew exactly what I was looking for and how to get there. Dr. Shortt has a great eye and is a creative visionary that can determine what need to be done, coupled with the skill to do it. What really differentiates him from the rest though, is his empathy and understanding. You don’t often find doctors who are good at combining the science with compassion. This was a surprising and greatly appreciated aspect of my care. I am 4 weeks post op now and I have to say the results are spectacular. I feel like the sisters have been reunited and I am whole again. If you have had reconstructive surgery and feel you need a little more finessing, take my advice and make it happen. You will be glad you did. I would highly recommend Dr. Shortt to my closest friends and family and to anyone looking for cosmetic improvements.

Thank you again,

Susan

Amazing plastic surgeon

Amazing plastic surgeon who was initially referred to me by another plastic surgeon. From my first consultation, Dr Shortt immediately knew what surgical procedures were the best option for my situation. No hesitation in diagnosis and recommended plan of action. I’m a breast cancer survivor and I thought a breast reconstruction was a lost cause for me due to my extension radiation treatments and consequential skin damage. Dr Shortt was very methodical and professional throughout the entire 18 month process. Before each surgery, I witnessed assertiveness and confidence with a sure hand mapping my body with his sharpie pen. He made me feel at ease with his good sense of humour and music.
My breast cancer journey is at long last over and I am quite happy with the final results. I feel rejuvenated and have gained my confidence back. I am so glad that I didn’t hesitate with my initial decision to go forward with the breast reconstruction. Thank you so much Dr. Shortt.

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