For some unknown reason, the misconception that breast implants need to be changed every 10 years has been popularized over the past couple of decades. The Internet probably has played an instrumental role in doing that, as 'expert patients' are constantly perpetuating it in chat room.
However, this is absolutely not true! Today’s breast implants are designed to last as long as possible, which is why all three breast implant companies presently provide lifetime implant replacement warranties for deflation.
Purpose for Another Surgery
The only reason to change a breast implant is if the patient experiences problems with her implants or wants some kind of change. Some common reasons for having a second surgical operation on breast implants include changing the size of the implants, repositioning an implant that has shifted out of position, replacing a ruptured implant, treating a capsular contracture, or to lift a breast that has started to sag. Some patients who had their implants placed during the silicone moratorium from 1992 to 2006 will take this opportunity to change from saline to silicone gel implants.
Furthermore, it is important that patients know that there is no specific time frame that indicates when a breast implant needs to be replaced. Under most circumstances, it is the patients’ choice to have something done on their breasts that require an implant change, not because the clock is ticking.
Breast implant rupture is often attributed towards the natural formation of scar tissue, which occurs around an implant after it has been inserted into the patient’s chest. This formation of scar tissue is the natural response of ones immune system to a foreign body being placed under the skin. Over time, this scar tissue can cause the breast implant silicone shell to be deformed slightly. As a result, this deformity can cause the breast implant wall to develop a fold, which will exert stress along the shell where the crease exists. Over time, sometimes after many years, the stress acting on the silicone envelope can cause a crack to form, which will weaken the integrity of the breast implant. Eventually, the crack in the implant shell will work its way all the way through the wall, causing the implant to deflate or rupture. With saline implants, the fluid gets absorbed. With silicone, the vast majority of the gel stays in the implant pocket.
Manufacturer Financial Assistance
In addition to providing a free implant in case of deflation, implant manufacturers also provide some financial assistance for the first ten years after insertion to help cover the cost of surgery, anesthesia and the facility. I suspect that this was the start of the confusion as someone took this as an implication that all implants should be changed before this warranty wore out. From there it has spread over the internet in such viral fashion that it seems that the majority of patients with implants or seeking breast augmentation surgery believe that they are supposed to change their implants each decade. Rest assured, this is simply not the case.