Can you tell me if breast implants have an expiration date and if there is a specific manner in which to examine them?
Posted June 28, 2016
DF of Fox Chapel writes:
I got my breast implants about 15 years ago. Recently I had a mammogram scare which led me to question my general breast health, including my implants. Can you tell me if breast implants have an expiration date and if there is a specific manner in which to examine them?
Thank you for your question.
Breast implants do not have an expiration date once implanted. While the FDA believes that approved breast implants have a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness when used as labeled, the agency does emphasize that breast implants are not lifetime devices. The lifespan of breast implants depends on the individual with some implants lasting as long as 25 years. There isn’t really an exact answer to this question, but on average breast implants tend to last about 10-15 years from the time of the original surgery.
The longer a woman has breast implants, the more likely she is to experience local complications. According to one FDA study as many as one in five primary augmentation patients require device replacement within 10 years of implantation. Some of the most frequent complications experienced by breast implant patients include capsular contracture, implant rupture, wrinkling and asymmetry. As the body ages, the naturally occurring weight shifts, hormonal changes and loss of volume can further alter the position of the implants.
I encourage patients to have routine examinations by a board certified plastic surgeon and report any unusual changes such as pain or change in appearance immediately. Changes may be more evident with a saline implant as they deflate when they rupture, whereas a silicone implant rupture may be more difficult to assess. Also with an in-person evaluation, a patient can have the opportunity to discuss a possible implant replacement or upgrade while having the surgeon perform a physical evaluation. The evolution of implants over the last 10 years from two shapes to a multitude of anatomical shapes allows more options for anyone interested in replacing an older implant.
For further information, I recommend “5 Things to Know About Breast Implants” provided by the FDA.