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Summary: We’re used to thinking about breast implants as permanent fixtures on your body. It’s not always easy to know hen to replace your breast implants—but a general rule of thumb is about once every ten years. That’s why when we talk about how “permanent” this procedure is, it’s both true and not quite. The changes to your body are, indeed, permanent, but the implant likely won’t last forever. And most plastic surgeons would prefer to stay ahead of the implant’s lifespan—that is, they would prefer to replace it before it becomes a problem.

when to replace your breast implants

Not Quite Permanent Results

We usually think of plastic surgery as a kind of permanent procedure. And it is. We should think about it that way. For example, if you get a facelift, there’s no going back to the face you had. Your features will be permanently altered (hopefully in a way that makes you look much more youthful). However, that doesn’t always mean that the results of plastic surgery will last forever. When it comes to breast augmentation, for example, your implants have a specified expiration date—a date at which, in theory, you should have your breast implants removed or replaced, depending on how you now want your breasts to look.

A Celebrity Guide

As was recently reported in The Daily Mail, a UK tabloid, Real Housewives of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga recently went in to get her breast implants replaced, at the behest of her plastic surgeons, who noted that 13 years was long enough for one set of the medical devices. I use Gorga as an example because while we often hear about celebrities getting nose jobs or even a new pair of breast implants, we usually only hear about it when it’s a drastic change. There’s no evidence that Gorga significantly changed her bust size with this procedure.

When to Replace Your Breast Implants

But the reporting on Gorga helps us shed some light on the fact that breast implants—whether they’re constructed of silicone or saline—do indeed have an expiration date. This means that, while they can last for well over a decade, you do need to think about the future—whether you’ll want to have your implants removed or renewed or if you want to change the size of your implants, these are decisions you’ll have to make at some point down the road. It’s not the most exciting of plastic surgery procedures, because there isn’t a striking or dramatic before and after change. (In fact, it’s likely the press only carried this story because Gorga’s sister-in-law is in prison—after all, drama sells).

In some cases, breast implants can last far beyond their projected shelf-life. And if you don’t have any problems with your implant, especially if the implant is silicone, it’s possible your plastic surgeon will tell you that it’s not worth the cost and pain of another surgery to replace the implant. However, these are medical devices and they have a shelf life for a reason. The best way to guarantee consistent results and lack of complications is to honor that shelf life and have the implant replaced.

So what exactly occurs during an implant replacement procedure? Well, first, this procedure is often referred to as breast augmentation revision. According to the website of the Minneapolis breast augmentation revision experts at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, the first step is determining what you want your new look to be. Do you want to look pretty much the same? Do you want a smaller implant or a larger implant? Answering these questions will help your plastic surgeon determine how to best proceed in order to get the results you’re after.

When You Replace Your Implants, You Can Change Your Results

In most cases, surgeons will attempt to use the same incision points as were used during your first procedure. This is done to minimize new scars—but sometimes because of that very scar tissue, another incision point must be chosen. The old implant will be removed and the new one (if you’ve selected to have a new one) will take its place. Often, the recovery in this type of case goes a little bit more quickly, as your body has already created the “pocket” in which the implants rests, so there’s no need to stretch out the muscles and so on.

If you decide to go back to your original breast size or to a smaller breast size, then your plastic surgeon may also need to perform a breast reduction procedure in order to eliminate some of the excess tissue that was created to accommodate your larger sized breasts.

To Happiness With Your Body

Generally, recovery from a breast revision surgery is very similar to breast augmentation surgery—in a week or so, you can be back to work, but we wouldn’t push it any quicker than that. And you may experience swelling for a number of weeks after your procedure, although that swelling will eventually decline, and you’ll be left with the breast size and shape you desired (in most cases).

Decisions regarding the breasts can be quite personal, so you should always take the time to reflect on the decisions you’re making, not only because they will affect your life in the near term, but also because they will affect your life in the long term. This is perhaps one reason that breast augmentation patients tend to be among the most thoughtful and methodical plastic surgery patients out there.

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