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Is it true that you have to get your silicone implants replaced every 10 years?

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

A woman in the bc support group was talking about the fact that she really hated having to exchange her silicone implants every 10 years. It is what her ps recommended. But, she said if they were saline, she wouldn't have to? Is this true? If you have silicone you have to have a surgery every 10 years?


jendrey's picture
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

Yeah, that's about what I was told...that implants last about 10 years. My first implant, (silicone) became contaminated and was immediately replaced. I only had it for less than a year when it happened. It's been a few months since it was replaced but I've had complications and the wound is still not healed yet.


CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

My PS said that implants to appear to have a shelf life. After my first mastectomy, I was not a candidate for an implant on the mastectomy side D/T large tumor and not enough skin, tissue left to put an implant behind. So I had a tram flap.

However, I did then have an implant placed on my good side, because my PS (rather insultingly...lol) said he couldn't match my remaining banana boob (my words). So I got an unwanted implant.

After ten years, the implant began to harden and really hurt. My PS said that this was very common and that the implants often began to have problems after 10 years.

In the meantime, two sisters cropped up with breast cancer and the decision was made to do another mastectomy. I could have opted for another implant (because this time the breast being removed had no cancer) but my PS no longer even did implants! He said that he no longer recommended implants. That is how strongly he felt about doing the free flap surgeries. So this time, mastectomy and reconstruction using SGAP (free flap that uses part of your butt).

I am personally happier without the implant. No pain, no replacements. Of course, the downside is that it is a bigger surgery and it is crucial that you find a really skilled PS.

My little sister's PS knew of my surgeon and all of the surgeries he pioneered, but he freely admitted that he did not have the skill to do the free flaps. She then elected to have implants. She is doing ok with her implants, but beginning to have pain and thinking about removing them and not replacing them.

DebbyM's picture
Posts: 3293
Joined: Oct 2009

I have read this also Leeza. Cynthia, I've never heard of the SGAP. It sounds like it would be very painful. Was it?

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9080
Joined: Aug 2009

that elected the 'saline' implants over silicone. Also, with saline if there is a
leak, you can have your implant repaired there in your surgeon's office, as opposed to
having major surgery to replace a leaky silicone implant.

Just my humble opinion, and choice.

Vicki Sam

Posts: 4376
Joined: Jun 2009

You don't have to have saline implants replaced after the 10 years or so? How do they repair it in the surgeon's office Vicki Sam?


CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

No, it was much less painful than the TRAM. But my SGAP was a "free flap" where the PS takes some skin, blood vessels and fat from your butt (my lay description...lol) and cuts them free from your butt. He/she then pulls up your breastbone and attaches the flap by attaching the blood vessels under the breastbone to the flap using microsurgery. After the vessels are attached to ensure good circulation, the new "breast" is sewn in place. The nipple is made from a little piece of extra skin and later tattooed for color.

I thought it would be terribly painful because my TRAM was pedicled and painful. With a pedicled flap (as opposed to the free flap)the blood vessels are not cut free but tunneled from the abdomen (in the case of a TRAM) under the ribs and pulled up to where the new breast will be placed. It was more painful and had a much longer recovery. All that tunneling hurts more, I guess.

If you can find a really skilled PS, I strongly recommend the "free flaps" over the pedicled. I couldn't believe how much faster I was up and going after the free flap as compared with the pedicled!

But, as I said before, at least as of a few years ago, they seemed to be done more on the East Coast. I only say that because I have one sister in San Diego and one in Seattle and they were having a hard time (about 5 years ago) finding someone both willing and skilled. I would want someone who did these a lot!

Posts: 191
Joined: Jun 2012

anywhere from 3-20 years. You're suppose to get an MRI at least every 3 years to check for leaks. I'd want an MRI anyway to check for cancer.

Posts: 80
Joined: Nov 2011

I have opted to have no reconstruction done. I can change my mind at any given time.

One reason I don't want to go through ANY additional procedures. Implants are permanent, they are NOT, however, lifetime. They will need to be replaced after a variable number of years...

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