When to Replace Breast Implants

Okay. We’ll admit it. We drew you in with the title. In reality, there is almost no need to replace breast implants.

With advanced techniques and improved manufacturing practices, the vast majority of today’s implants stand up to the test of time.

That said, with a rupture rate of .5% per year for silicone and 1% for silicone, there are rare occasions when a breast implant may need replacement.

Why Would a Breast Implant Rupture?

Implant rupture can happen for any number of reasons including trauma from an accident, needle insertion during a biopsy, or even just the normal aging of the implant – although this last reason is far more common in implants sold before 2006.

There are distinct differences between a saline and a silicone rupture though.


When a saline implant ruptures or its valve fails, the saline typically leaks out over the course of a few days. As the body absorbs the saline, the breast looks increasingly deflated.

As such, it’s fairly simple to detect a saline rupture during a physical exam.

With silicone, things get a little more complicated.


Because silicone is thicker than saline, when there’s a rupture, it happens more slowly. Furthermore, silicone gel is not absorbed by the body.

As we mentioned above, improved manufacturing practices have decreased the possibility of rupture. Modern silicone implants have thicker shells and more cohesive gel fillers than their predecessors. In the rare event that one ruptures, it often gets a tear in the shell which can compromise the appearance and shape of the implant and the breast. The patient may also experience pain, firmness, and swelling.

Other patients with a rupture, however, have no noticeable symptoms. This is known as a “silent rupture” and is not detectable through a simple physical examination. So the best way to ensure there is no silicone implant rupture is through an MRI, ultrasound, or, in some cases, a mammogram.

Then There’s Capsular Contracture

Another big reason for replacing breast implants is capsular contracture which may or may not be the result of a rupture.

It’s a normal and natural part of the healing process for the body to form a capsule of fibrous scar tissue around any implanted device. The capsule not only creates a protective barrier, but it also assists in keeping the implant in place so as to avoid slippage.

But when the body goes into overdrive to protect itself from the “foreign” body – in this case, the breast implant – the scar tissue tightens around the implant and then constricts it. This is known as capsular contracture. It can cause a misshapen breast and become painful.

The reasons that a tiny percentage of patients develop this condition is not entirely clear.

There are different grades of capsular contracture and the lower grades are often treated with breast massage and ultrasound therapy. Breast implant replacement or revision is only required for the most severe cases. And these are very rare.

Are You Concerned About Your Breast Implants?

Because the need to replace breast implants is so minimal, it’s likely that you don’t need replacements.

However, if you’re experiencing any change in size, shape, or cohesiveness with your breasts after receiving implants, it’s important you acknowledge these.

Don’t hesitate to contact us. We can answer any questions, address concerns, and put an action plan into place if need be.