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HOW DURABLE ARE BREAST IMPLANTS?

In 2012, there was much hype about the latest implant devices to receive FDA approval: the highly cohesive, form-stable “gummy bear” breast implants. Much like the gummy bear candy, these new silicone implants do not leak when cut or punctured and, therefore, have a lower risk of implant rupture. Since saline and previous versions of silicone implants are still widely used and deemed safe by the FDA, many people wonder about the buzzword “rupture” and how durable breast implants actually are. This blog will help put your mind at ease with some tried-and-true facts.

HOW COMMON IS IMPLANT RUPTURE?

Research published in Archives of Plastic Surgery in 2014 found that the age of the implants definitely has an impact on their likelihood of rupture. Rupture/deflation rates of 3 to 5 percent occurred in saline breast implants 3 years after insertion, and after 10 years, the rates went up to 7 to 10 percent. While saline implants are more likely to rupture than the previous-generation silicone versions, rupture is much easier to detect with saline implants because the patient will notice the obvious implant deflation. This earlier detection typically leads to fewer complications.

Research on the rupture rate of the latest highly cohesive “gummy bear” implants (manufactured by Sientra) is still in process. Data is being collected from the 1,788 participants involved in the pre-market study for 2 more years. A 10-year study is also in motion, involving 4,782 women who have received the implants, to determine the likelihood of long-term complications. However, MENTOR® MemoryGel® implants, a version of the highly cohesive implants that are almost as form-stable as Sientra’s version, determined only a 1.1 percent risk of rupture after 6 years.

SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?

Breast implants can maintain their safe functionality within the body for decades, but patients should know that all breast implants are considered semi-permanent devices. Anyone considering a breast augmentation should be prepared for revision surgery in the future, whether due to tissue complications, adverse events, or the desire to modify because their breast aesthetics have changed with age.

MRI screenings are the most effective method for detecting implant rupture, especially “silent ruptures” that can occur with silicone-gel implants. An MRI is recommended 3 years after augmentation with silicone implants and every other year afterward. If rupture occurs, the implant material will not cause immediate harm to the body, but the fibrous tissue may become inflamed and lead to other complications. Breast revision surgery will replace the implants and restore the health and aesthetics of the breasts.

WHEN DOES RUPTURE OCCUR?

The reported causes of breast implant rupture are considered “spontaneous” and include iatrogenic damage, trauma, chemical degradation of the implant shell, and pressure during mammography. As noted in the statistics above, these occurrences are rare. While it is true that breast implants may actually explode at high altitudes or in low air pressure, as explored in an October 2003 episode of Myth Busters, these conditions would have to be so extreme that the person would die before the implants themselves would be damaged. The same goes for extreme temperatures; the conditions would have to become unsustainable for human life long before the implants would be affected. Breast augmentation patients have no need to be concerned that their implants will rupture when flying, undergoing hyperbaric therapy, or enduring the extreme cold.

 
If you are interested in learning more about the safety and effectiveness of breast augmentation, please schedule a consultation with Charles Galanis, M.D. Call our Beverly Hills office at (310) 858.8930, call our Chicago office at (844) GALANIS,or fill out our online contact form today.

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