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.

 

 

Reviews

Dr. Shortt preformed a gynecomastia gland removal on me

Dr. Shortt preformed a gynecomastia gland removal on me, I am 20 years old and have been dealing with gynecomastia my whole life, it has caused me alot of pain and discomfort. I am very athletic and fitness is my passion, having these glands affected how I looked cosmetically as well. I was recommended by my doctor to have Dr. Shortt as my surgeon, and I am so happy I was recommended to him. Throughout the process getting ready for my surgery he was extremely knowledgeable and professional providing all the information I needed to know. His staff were very helpful as well and I sent several emails asking questions and always got a reply right away. The surgery itself went really well and I was surprised that there was very little pain following the surgery, I didn’t really need any painkillers. He removed both glands which happened to be quite large from my chest. I saw Dr Shortt for follow up appointments for the first 3 weeks after, we were both extremely happy with how I was healing and the results. In fact, I am blown away by how much better I look, there is no scar at all and no soreness and discomfort like I had before I got the surgery done. I’m impressed, and I haven’t even healed fully yet since I am only 3 weeks out, I am looking forward to the final results because it’s only going to get better from here. This was a life changing surgery for me, I am so pleased I was able to get the opportunity to have such a great surgeon perform it. If you are a male that is looking for a good surgeon to perform this type of surgery, I am confident that you will be beyond happy with what Dr. Shortt can do, I know I was. Thank you.

I highly recommend dr. Shortt, he is very honest.

I highly recommend dr. Shortt, he is very honest. I had a consultation for my son to do his nose he explained everything to us thoroughly and spend enough time with us and answered all our questions.

I had sought a breast reduction to ease the back and neck pain

I had sought a breast reduction to ease the back and neck pain I had endured for years. I had met a few other plastic surgeons over a year period. I had never been comfortable or confident enough to make the decision to have surgery…not until I met with Dr Shortt. I had been afraid of surgery and never felt convinced it was worth it. After my consultation with Dr Shortt , I was excited about how he could help. He made me feel very comfortable. During the initial examination we also spoke about the large deposits of skin and fat under my arms – a constant source of embarrassment and discomfort. I had not worn anything sleeveless in years as they spilled out. He spoke to me about “auxiliary breast tissue removal”. I was thrilled there was something that could be done and both surgeries could be performed together When explaining what the procedure would entail and the recovery time, he spoke with me not at me. He acknowledged my fears and concerns. All my questions had been answered and I knew that surgery was the right decision and he was the right surgeon for me! ( I was so excited about the prospect now that I shared with my daughter now amazing he was – she had also meet other plastic surgeons for implants for herself – she met him and was also so impressed – she had her surgery performed by him as well!) The surgery went well. At all the follow up appointments, he was always timely. You would think being exposed and examined would be uncomfortable, but is wasn’t. He is such a professional and put you at such ease with him that I never had the chance to feel uncomfortable He would exam the areas and scars and instruct how to best take care of them. He shared in my joy and excitement for the difference this had made! I feel better and look better I also want to mention what an amazing team he has as well. Everyone I came into contact with at his office were amazing! I can’t come up with one thing that I feel he could have improved on. Without any hesitation I would, and do, recommend him!

I selected Dr Shortt based on his credentials and experience

At 51 years of age and many, many years of pain, I sought out a Surgeon who would perform for me an OHIP covered Breast Reduction and after a great deal of research, I selected Dr Shortt based on his credentials and experience. Reviewing his past surgery accomplishments, I soon wanted the “Mommy Makeover”. At my first appointment, I was pleasantly surprised by the Dr Shortt’s demeanor. He was found to be very approachable and empathetic. He took the time to explain everything that I needed to know and also answered all of my questions without making it seem a burden. He went through step by step what I would go through during and after my surgery. As a very self-conscious person, he was able to make me feel very comfortable being fully exposed and was professional every step of the way. His Support Staff are all so very courteous and professional. As far as the surgery itself, I would have to say I think that not only is he an excellent Surgeon, he is a Sculptor. I am extremely pleased with the results. The few people that I have shown my stomach and newly formed belly button are astounded at the results. Currently I am 9 weeks post op and feel wonderful and able to go back to the gym. Dr Shortt being a Perfectionist wants another 6mth appt to ensure that I remain am as happy as I am today and that the scarring is as minimal as possible. He has changed my life and I am very grateful. I would and have recommended him to several people already.

I am currently 5 weeks post op and am extremely pleased with my results

I am currently 5 weeks post op and am extremely pleased with my results so far and Dr.Shortt told me if I’m happy with the results so far, wait until I’m finally healed. Dr Shortt is an amazing doctor, his bedside manner is impeccable and at every step of the way he made me feel comfortable and you could tell he genuinely really cared. He took his time to listen to me and my concerns and reassured me he would do his very best, and the results so far are amazing, I am extremely happy and feel amazing. With any big surgery it can be scarey and nervous but Dr.Shortt is very knowledgeable and most of the time had already answered all my questions I had for him and he put me at ease. His staff are amazing to work with too, especially Joanne. Thank you guys, from my very first consult to today you have made this whole experience absolutely amazing. I would highly recommend you definitely go see Dr.Shortt his professionalism and the fact that he actually treats you like a person first shows he really cares.

I am very pleased with the excellent work of Dr. Rodger Shortt

I am very pleased with the excellent work of Dr. Rodger Shortt. His expertise and great manners helped me a lot through the difficult times and multiple operations I went through. As a cancer breast patient, I had two mastectomies for my right and left breasts. Dr. Short joined the surgeon on my second mastectomy and started his wonderful work of inserting the breast tissue expanders. I visited Dr. Shortt’s clinic several times to inject the saline into the breast expanders. During these visits, I appreciated the staff pleasant attitudes and Dr. Shortt recommendations. At the last stage of the process, Dr. Shortt removed the breast expanders and inserted the breast implants and he reconstructed my nipples from my breast skin. I am very pleased with the wonderful job Dr. Shortt has completed. I highly recommend Dr. Shortt and wish him every success with all the patients.

I am so very grateful for all the hard work he did

About 8 years ago I had a lumpectomy leaving my breasts very unbalanced. It has made super uncomfortable about my appearance especially in a bathing suite. Dr. Shortt did an amazing job fixing this. I am so very grateful for all the hard work he did. My girls look like twins instead of cousins. Also, his staff is excellent and caring. I am so happy and recommend him to anyone who needs a good Plastic Surgeon who listens and get the best possible results for his patient.

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