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




Absolutely hands down the best!

Absolutely hands down the best! Dr Shortt is very skilled surgeon and has a warm, caring personality along with a sense of humour which will keep you at ease throughout the whole process. You are in the best hands should you choose Dr. Shortt. Thank you Dr Shortt and Joanne for making my surgical journey a great experience!

It’s Been 28 Years …

I was reviewing breast transfer procedures on real self. Dr. Shorrt had comment on a previous post. I checked out his profile/website and decided to go for a consultation. I was glad that he actually conducted the consultation. I’ve been to one where the Dr.’s assistant did the initial one. He was very easy to talk , to express your concerns. He was very knowledge. Some doctors are in rush to explain things. “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” . I felt very comfortable right away. I knew I wanted him to be my surgeon.

All in all I can not say enough good things about my experience with both Dr. Shortt and his staff

Dr Short t was my surgeon for breast reduction, tummy tuck, bra-line back lift and panniculectomy. I was at ease upon our first meeting. I felt he genuinely was on my side and interested in my well being. Although the surgeries I have undergone have been major , the pain was surprisingly minor. I have had excellent recoveries and shockingly minimal scaring. I could not be more satisfied with having been his patient. I did some research about plastic surgery and costs were in line with others. All in all I can not say enough good things about my experience with both Dr. Shortt and his staff

Thankful for High Standards

I had lost an excessive amount of weight. After success in living a healthier lifestyle I found that the extra skin impacted my health in other ways. Dr Short completed a Belt Lipectomy.
My experience through the consultation visits and pre and post surgery was very positive!
Dr. Shortt was detailed with my questions leaving nothing to my imagination, defining the realities I would experience throughout the process. He was specific through the preparatory work that needed to happen and made me feel connected and comfortable with the procedure.
Dr. Shortt is professional, extremely knowledgeable as a plastic surgeon, and has the ability to communicate to people with clarity during each appointment!
I have also appreciated the office environment and connections with Joanne as she answered my questions with efficiency and genuine care.
Dr. Shortt is highly skilled in what he does, and he has the character of caring and valuing as he speaks with you. Dr. Shortt wants great results for each person and sets a very high standard, in which I am grateful!
I am really happy with the whole process from start to finish and excited about the outcome of having this surgery!
Thank you Dr. Shortt!

I had a bump on my thumb removed by Dr Shortt a few years ago.

I had a bump on my thumb removed by Dr Shortt a few years ago. It was e third time I’d had it removed, as it kept growing back, but since Dr Shortt removed it, it hasn’t returned!

I’m very pleased with the results of my explant surgery.

Dr Shortt was recommended to me for my explant surgery. I was informed he was the best surgeon for the job and that I would be very happy with the results.
We met on a couple of occasions before the surgery and discussed the options of new implants, fat grafting or just an explant. He was courteous, respectful and very knowledgeable.
He respected my decision to just have the explant surgery and didn’t try to sell me on other procedures. He is all about what’s best for his patients. When I had my pre-op at the hospital, the intake nurse couldn’t say enough wonderful things about him and his skills. That solidified it for me.
I’m very pleased with the results of my explant surgery. It was a unique case in that the implants had completely liquified. They were done 8 years ago by another recommended surgeon in Burlington, not Dr Shortt himself. It seems they were just defective.
Dr. Shortt noted that he had never seen any implants come out in that condition. I appreciate that he is following up with the manufacturer to inform them of the situation.
if you are choosing implants, please do your research and educate yourself and if you choose to have them done, Dr. Shortt is your guy.

Dr. Shortt is a true professional, with an amazing bedside manner.

Recently I had Dr Shortt remove a large lump from the back of my leg. His genuinely friendly manner immediately put me at ease.
In the hospital, he explained how the procedure was going to work, which made me feel comfortable. The actual procedure took less than 5 minutes, with no pain. I was completely relaxed, knowing I was in good hands. Dr. Shortt is a true professional, with an amazing bedside manner. I’d trust him to do absolutely any surgical procedure and would feel confident that the outcome would be very successful.

Feel and look better than ever before.