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Breast augmentation remains one of the most popular of all cosmetic procedures, with over 200,000 performed each year. If you’re considering getting breast implants, you may be curious about the long term maintenance they require or how often you should expect to replace them. Here’s a deeper look into what you can expect in the years and decades following your breast augmentation.

Do Implants Have an Expiration Date?

There are several common misconceptions about breast implants, particularly related to how long they last and when they need to be replaced. Once breast implants are placed in the body, they do not have an actual expiration date that determines when they should be removed or replaced. However, this doesn’t mean that most women keep their breast implants forever, and there are several situations where women opt to remove or update their implants.

When to Consider Replacement

An obvious time to replace one or both breast implants is in the event of a leak or rupture. Although uncommon, leaks and ruptures can occur in both saline and silicone breast implants.Leaks in silicone implants can be more difficult to recognize on your own because a noticeable decrease in breast size typically doesn’t occur. MRI technology can help determine whether or not your silicone implant is leaking and if the shell of your implant is compromised in any way. Regardless of which type of implant you have, visit your cosmetic surgeon if you suspect a leak or rupture has occurred.

Capsular contracture occurs when a pocket of scar tissue develops around and squeezes the implant, causing the breast to feel very hard and unnatural. If this happens, a revision surgery is necessary to remove the scar tissue and replace the implant with a new one.

It’s a Woman’s Prerogative to Change Her Mind

Another common reason that women decide to replace their breast implants is because they desire a different size or shape of implant. Although many women are happy with their implant choice for the rest of their lives, some find that they desire a different look than they did with their initial breast augmentation. Maybe you chose a fairly large implant size in your twenties or thirties but now desire a subtler enhancement during your later stages of life. Or perhaps you originally chose a high-profile implant but now want a moderate to low-profile implant. If you’re no longer satisfied with your results for whatever reason, a breast implant replacement can be a wonderful option even if your implants are completely intact.

Don’t Be a Stranger to Your Cosmetic Surgeon

After your breast augmentation, you’ll go to several follow-up appointments in the subsequent weeks so your cosmetic surgeon can monitor your healing and ensure that your results have met your goals. However, once the healing is complete and you’ve seen your final results, you should stay in touch with yourcosmetic surgeon. Schedule annual checkups to monitor your implants and check for any irregularities.

Don’t Skip Screenings

Getting breast implants is no reason to ignore your breast health. Be sure to have regular breast cancer screenings based on your age, family history of breast cancer and your doctor’s instructions. Women with silicone implants should also have periodic MRI screenings to monitor the shape, feel and positioning of the implants. Newer silicone implants, produced after 2005, should be screened every three years, and older silicone implants may need to be screened more frequently. If you have silicone implants, meet with your surgeon to determine the appropriate screening schedule for you.

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