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When patients come in for a breast augmentation consultation, a common question is how long breast implants last. While they can last 15 to 20 years with no complications, breast implants are not intended as lifetime devices, and they will ultimately need to be replaced at some point.


At Del Mar Plastic Surgery in San Diego, Dr. Larry H. Pollack, specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Common Reasons for Breast Implant Replacement

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is one of the most common reasons for needing breast implant replacement. Sometimes, the body creates a capsule of scar tissue around the breast implant, causing the surrounding tissue to become thick, tight, and hard. It may look like one implant is higher than the other, or there may be signs of rippling or deformity. It may also cause some discomfort or pain, but with revision surgery, Dr. Pollack can correct this complication.

Implant Rupture/Deflation

Another reason for breast implant replacement is if the implant ruptures or deflates, which is fairly uncommon.

When saline implants leak or deflate, it is usually obvious; the body absorbs the saline, and the breast becomes noticeably smaller. However, the rupture of a silicone implant may only be detected by MRI. Older silicone implants that rupture are at risk of capsular contracture and developing scar tissue. Newer silicone implants use a more cohesive gel that will not leak if they rupture, but they should still be replaced. If a patient has a ruptured implant, Dr. Pollack can replace one side only or both, depending on the patient’s needs and desires.

Wanting to Change Implant Size

Many may be surprised to learn that the most common reason for breast revision is to change the size or placement of the implants. Once your breasts have healed from your initial breast augmentation, they will settle into their proper place, and you will be able to enjoy the new appearance of your breasts. However, over time, pregnancy or weight fluctuations may alter the size of your breasts beyond what you were expecting. If, for any reason, you become dissatisfied with the size of your implants, Dr. Pollack can perform breast implant replacement surgery to better fit your needs.

Wanting to Change Implant Style, Shape, or Material

Dr. Pollack can also replace breast implants if you want to change the style, shape, or material of the implant. Many patients who come in for this reason have outdated implants and want newer ones that feel and look more natural. With breast implant replacement, you can enhance the results of your previous breast augmentation.

Other Reasons

There are other reasons for needing breast implant replacement. Some women experience anxiety with their implants. Some may experience healing complications after surgery. Others may need their implants repositioned after they have shifted, they may need ptosis or sagging to be corrected, or they may need to have the implants corrected after a previous failed breast augmentation procedure. If these or any other reasons lead you to be dissatisfied with your current breast implants, Dr. Pollack can help you.

What Happens During My Breast Implant Replacement Consultation?

As you meet with Dr. Pollack for your consultation, the two of you will discuss your unique situation. He will then plan a customized procedure to replace your implants as you desire. His goal is to ensure that your new implants last as long as possible so that you can experience long-term satisfaction. During your consultation, Dr. Pollack will take the time to understand your unique needs and to create an ideal plan for you.

What Is the Average Cost of Breast Implant Replacement?

Your breast implant replacement may be covered under warranty. Manufacturers typically cover an implant replacement (implant only) if the implant ruptures or leaks. These warranties sometimes also cover a portion of the cost of the operation if the rupture or leak takes place within ten years after the initial surgery. For non-covered implant replacement, the cost can vary significantly and depends mostly on the correction needed. While an initial breast augmentation procedure may cost from $7,000 to $8,000, implant replacement could be lower or higher depending on your individual case.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Implant Replacement

Who is a suitable candidate for breast implant replacement?

If you are unhappy with the results of your breast augmentation, you may be a candidate for breast implant replacement. Anyone considering a breast implant replacement should wait at least six months after their initial surgery.

Good candidates should be healthy with realistic expectations of the procedure’s outcome.

How long does a breast augmentation revision take?

Breast revision surgery takes between one and three hours, depending on the patient’s requirements. If the patient needs the scar tissue removed, the breast lifted, or the pocket adjusted, the procedure can be more complex and, therefore, take longer.

What is recovery like after breast implant replacement?

Generally, the recovery for breast implant replacement takes several weeks but is usually associated with less discomfort than the initial surgery. Patients can return to work within a few days to one week of the surgery, but strenuous activity should be avoided for up to six weeks. You will need to wear a compression garment to hold your chest in place and minimize swelling.

Will there be additional scarring?

Breast implant replacement often reuses the incisions made during the initial surgery to minimize additional scars. Breast scar reduction techniques may also be used to improve the appearance of current scars.

What results can I expect from my new implants?

The initial results are visible in two to three weeks as the swelling subsides. Your breasts should look fuller and more symmetrical for a noticeable improvement you can feel comfortable and confident about.

What are the risks and complications of breast implant replacement?

Just like any cosmetic surgery, there are some risks associated with breast implant replacement. These include scarring, bleeding, nerve injury, infection, clotting, breast tissue damage, and other surgical complications. It is important to work with an experienced plastic surgeon with advanced skills to help minimize the potential risks.

When is it necessary to combine a breast revision surgery with a breast lift?

If you have had breast implants for a couple of years, it’s highly likely to have stretched-out skin or downward-facing nipples that won’t be addressed with larger implants. An effective option is to combine a breast lift with implant revision to remove the excess skin and reposition the nipple-areola complex.

Interested in Breast Implant Replacement in San Diego?

Bear in mind that your situation is unique and should be discussed with us in detail. There are plenty of options for breast implant replacement, and with Dr. Larry H. Pollack’s 25+ years in this field, he is well experienced with all of them. If you need breast implant replacement, we encourage you to contact us to schedule your private consultation. Call us today at (858) 450-9100 or fill out our online contact form. Dr. Pollack looks forward to helping you.

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Dr. Pollack is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is dedicated to providing patients with safe and effective procedures. He has over 20 years of experience in the field of plastic surgery and looks forward to meeting you. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Pollack, please call our La Jolla practice at 858-450-9100 today.