Important Facts About Breast Implants
Choosing an implant is a big decision. There is no one “best” implant. Depending on your priorities, you may be most satisfied with saline, standard silicone, or highly-cohesive “gummy” silicone. In addition, there are various sizes and shapes available with all of these types of implants. If we help you choose the right implant, there is a high likelihood that you will be pleased with your surgical result. If not, you may end up having a secondary surgery, something both you and we want to avoid.
Because this is such an important decision, our practice has spent a great deal of effort putting together a process designed to help you make the right choice. First and foremost, Dr. Steinwald, Dr. Vath or Dr. Wolfe will spend time discussing the various options with you and getting a sense of where your goals with breast augmentation. Before-and-after photos of our previous patients can highlight differences and help us get a sense of what kind of “look” you desire. Our practice has two Vectra imaging systems, the most advanced 3D simulation device on the market. With this system, you will have the opportunity to see your own highly accurate before-and-after photos with any implant available on the market. In addition, we have hundreds of implants available from all 3 manufacturers that can be used to “try on” different sizes and shapes. A limited number of these are available to take home for a few days to see if the size works outside of the office in your daily life.
How long do implants last?
Breast implants do not last forever. Though they may last a long time, all implants have the potential to fail by rupturing. It is rarely a traumatic event like a fall, car accident or sports injury that leads to failure. Typically a rupture is the result of years of subtle wear-and-tear caused by movement of the implant within the body.
Saline implant ruptures are often obvious, as the body tends to absorb the fluid rapidly. This leads to a dramatic difference in size over a day or two, and can be readily corrected by a simple implant exchange after an implant fails. Because of this, it is rarely helpful to electively change saline implants before they leak. The average lifespan of these implants is in the 15-20 year range, but they may certainly last longer.
Silicone implants of either type can fail, but this may or may not result in changes obvious to the patient. Keep in mind that years of data and hundreds of studies have allowed us to state with certainty that there is no connection between silicone implants (ruptured or intact) and any systemic illness. In some cases, the ruptured silicone can irritate the surrounding tissue and result in firmness or distortion of the breast, known as a “capsular contracture”. In other cases, the rupture remains silent and no outward changes are seen or felt. Some patients choose to electively change their silicone implants out after 15-20 years to prevent this, while others may wait until they have a problem to address it. Highly-cohesive “gummy” implants do have significantly lower failure rates than other implants, and this may translate into significantly longer intervals between surgeries.
Different warranties may be offered with your implants. Depending on the type of implant you choose, there will be some type of warranty which is included with the purchase of your implants. This warranty may provide replacement implants in the event of rupture or certain complications, and may provide financial assistance, as well. In many cases, additional warranty coverage may be purchased for a fee which will extend the duration and/or increase the amount of coverage. The decision to purchase additional coverage typically needs to be made within 30 days after your surgery.
Keep track of your implant information! After your surgery, you will receive a card with all of the information concerning your breast implants, including type, size/fill volume, date of insertion, surgeon name, and tracking serial numbers. Keep this card in a secure place and/or store a digital copy forever. Our practice is required to keep you data for at least 8 years, but you will likely have your implants much longer. The manufacturers do not store your data by name. If you someday want or need another surgery, it is very helpful for your surgeon to know exactly what implant you currently have. In the event of a warranty issue, you will need your information to receive compensation. (This could save you thousands of dollars on future surgery!)
Do the results last forever?
Breasts will age and change, whether or not a patient has implants. There are significant changes that can occur in the breast over a woman’s lifetime. The most significant factors involved are pregnancy, weight fluctuations, and menopause. If changes occur which are undesired, a variety of surgical options exist to correct them. Implant exchange, implant repositioning, and breast lifts can all help regain lost form. In some patients, the breasts grow as the patient ages, and the breast ends up being too big. It is a fairly straightforward procedure to remove unwanted implants, though a breast lift may be necessary to reshape the breast once the implant is gone.