Hi Dr. Kelly:
My breast implants are 10 years old. They look fine and I just had a normal mammogram. Should I be concerned because they are 10 years old?
Breast implants don’t have an expiration date. As long as they are intact and the patient is happy, there is no reason to replace them. Nonetheless, they are certainly more apt to have a problem with time. Nothing lasts forever. But how do you tell if a breast implant is functioning normally? If it is a saline implant and there is a rupture, the saline will leak out and the breast will become smaller. Those are pretty easy to tell. But if it is a silicone implant, there can be a rupture and the patient probably won’t know. The breast will often look and feel the same. Physical exam by a plastic surgeon can often be helpful to determine if a silicone implant is ruptured.
A ruptured implant will often feel softer on physical exam compared with the intact side. Mammograms can also detect a ruptured implant and an MRI is an even better test than the mammogram. Unfortunately, even mammograms and MRIs can miss a ruptured implant. I recently operated on a patient who had a normal mammogram one month before surgery and was changing her implants as part of the revision surgery. I was surprised in surgery to find her left implant was ruptured, even though her mammogram had been normal. As
I always tell patients, the only test that is 100% accurate for detection of a ruptured silicone implant is for the doctor to make an incision and look. With this patient, we went ahead and replaced both implants and now she is fine. But if I hadn’t operated on her, we would never have known that her implant had ruptured. The bottom line is if your implants are 10 years old you need to be examined by a board certified plastic surgeon as your first step. A normal mammogram is helpful, but not a definitive test. The plastic surgeon can then help you determine how you should proceed from there.
About Dr. Kelly
Dr. Kelly is a board-certified plastic surgeon and partner in both Miami Plastic Surgery and MPS MedSpa. He has been in practice over 25 years and has been recognized by his peers both nationally and internationally as one of the best plastic surgeons in the United States. In addition to being an expert on cosmetic surgery, his practice encompasses the entire spectrum of non-invasive treatments such as Botox, fillers, CoolSculpting, ultrasound, lasers and radiofrequency. He also believes in giving back to our community, having served on the Village Council for eight years and volunteering as a coach for our youth sports programs. You can email him questions at email@example.com.