How Long Do Breast Implants Last?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on September 25, 2023 5 Comments

breast implants life span

Originally published on January 7, 2019. Updated on September 24, 2023 with additional information

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that involves placing breast implants to enhance the size and shape of a person’s breasts. The changes that breast augmentation brings to the body are primarily focused on the appearance of the breasts themselves; however, augmentation can deliver dramatic results that completely dramatically enhance the patient’s natural silhouette.

While they can be durable and provide long-lasting results, breast implants are not considered permanent devices and will likely require replacement or removal at some point in the future. The lifespan of breast implants can vary significantly depending on factors such as the type of implant, the individual’s body, lifestyle, and other considerations. When that time comes, the patient will have to decide whether to replace their implants or have them removed.

How long do breast implants last?

In the past, the question of how long breast implants last was often met with a general response of around 10 years. However, with advancements in technology, materials, and surgical techniques, today’s breast implants are manufactured to surpass this previously estimated time frame. While it is true that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer, as implant duration can vary from patient to patient, a more accurate estimate for the longevity of current-generation breast implants falls between 10 to 20 years.

In most cases, breast implants should last well beyond the 10-year mark without any major issues. For many individuals, the need for implant removal or replacement before the 10-year time frame arises only if complications like implant rupture occur. This means that, under normal circumstances, the patient can expect their implants to remain intact and functional for at least a decade.

It is important to note that the risk of implant rupture does exist, and it increases gradually over time. Research suggests that the chance of implant rupture grows by approximately 1% each year after implantation. This means that while the odds remain relatively low in the earlier years, they become more significant as time goes on.

While the typical range for breast implant lifespan is between 10 to 20 years, some individuals may experience exceptional outcomes. There have been instances where patients have enjoyed the benefits of their implants and the results of their initial breast augmentation for 25 years or even longer. These cases, however, are exceptions rather than the rule, and individual experiences can vary widely.

Ways to extend the lifespan of breast implants

Taking proactive steps to care for breast implants is essential. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to extend the lifespan of breast implants and maintain their optimal appearance over time.

  1. Adhere to post-procedure instructions

The surgeon’s post-procedure instructions are not just recommendations; they are crucial guidelines for recovery. By following them diligently, patients minimize the risk of complications during the healing process.

  1. Protect from trauma and impact

Avoid situations that could result in trauma or impact to the chest area. Shielding the implants from major bumps or jolts can prevent damage and help them maintain their integrity.

  1. Exercise with caution

Abide by the exercise guidelines provided by the surgeon. Gradually reintroduce physical activity while avoiding strenuous upper-body movements that could strain the implant area.

  1. Support with the right bra

Invest in supportive bras that provide proper lift and minimize strain on the implants. This is especially important during exercise and daily activities.

  1. Attend annual checkups

Regular follow-up appointments are essential. These appointments allow the surgeon to monitor the condition of the implants, identify any potential issues early, and provide recommendations for maintenance.

  1. Perform self-checks

Conduct periodic self-examinations to identify any unusual changes in their appearance or feel. Early detection of issues can lead to timely interventions.

  1. Sleeping position matters

Whenever possible, patient should sleep on their back. This position minimizes pressure on the chest and helps prevent unnecessary stress on the implants.

  1. Maintain a consistent weight

Significant weight fluctuations can impact the appearance of the patient’s breasts and the integrity of their implants. Maintaining a consistent weight can contribute to the longevity of results.

  1. Eat well

A balanced and nutritious diet supports overall health, including the health of breast tissue. Adequate nutrition helps the body heal, maintain elasticity, and optimize the appearance of implants.

  1. Don’t smoke

Smoking is associated with a range of health issues, including skin problems that could affect the implants. Quitting or avoiding smoking can contribute to the health of the patient’s breast implants and their overall well being.

  1. Massage to prevent complications

Regularly massaging the area around the implants, as directed by the surgeon, can help prevent the formation of scar tissue and reduce the risk of complications like capsular contracture.

Breast implants can offer a long-lasting boost to confidence and self-image. By following these proactive measures, patients make a commitment to the longevity of results.

Reasons implants need to be changed

While breast implants are designed for durability and longevity, there are certain circumstances that might necessitate their replacement. In this segment, we will delve into the reasons why breast implants may need to be changed and how different factors can influence these changes.

Implant rupture

Implant rupture affects approximately 2-12% of patients over their lifetime. The likelihood of rupture can differ between silicone and saline implants. In the case of silicone implants, ruptures are often referred to as “silent ruptures” because they might not be immediately noticeable due to the cohesive nature of the silicone gel. On the other hand, saline implant ruptures are typically more apparent as the saline solution is absorbed by the body, causing deflation.

Hardening and capsular contracture

Capsular contracture, a condition where scar tissue forms around the implant and hardens, can affect around 13% of patients in their lifetime. This can result in discomfort, distortion of breast shape, and changes in implant positioning. Addressing capsular contracture often involves implant removal and replacement.

Late seroma development

While relatively rare, late seroma development can occur in about 1.5% of patients over their lifetime. A seroma is a buildup of fluid around the implant, leading to discomfort and changes in breast appearance. This condition may require implant removal and treatment to address the fluid accumulation.


Rippling, where wrinkles or ridges become visible on the surface of the breast, can affect around 2% of patients over their lifetime. This phenomenon is more commonly observed in patients with thin skin or minimal breast tissue coverage.

Position change and symmetry issues

Over time, changes in the positioning of breast implants might occur due to factors like weight changes, pregnancy, or the natural aging process. Some individuals may also experience symmetry issues where one breast implant settles differently than the other. In these cases, implant repositioning or replacement can help achieve a balanced and harmonious appearance.

Patient desire for change

Sometimes, patients simply desire a change in implant size, shape, or type to better align with their evolving aesthetic preferences. This could involve upgrading to a larger size, switching from saline to silicone implants, or vice versa.

Breast implant removal surgery

Breast implant removal surgery, also known as explantation, involves the surgical removal of previously placed breast implants. Breast implant removal can be performed by any qualified plastic surgeon — it’s not necessary for the surgeon who conducted the initial procedure to also perform the removal.

During the initial consultation with the surgeon, they will assess the condition of the existing implants and discuss potential surgical approaches.

Based on the patient’s preferences, the surgeon can offer several options:

  • Removal of implants only
  • Implant removal combined with a breast lift
  • Excision of hardened or irregular tissue
  • Implant replacement, with or without a breast lift

Sometimes, opting for implant removal alone may lead to cosmetic irregularities, such as deflation, sagging, dimpling, or asymmetry. To address this, the surgeon might recommend replacing the implants with ones of a different size or shape.

For many patients, a return to work is possible within approximately five days. However, it’s advisable to wait around six weeks before engaging in more strenuous activities, such as exercise and heavy lifting.

Breast implant revision surgery

Implant revision involves the surgeon exchanging existing implants for new implants due to a complication, the patient’s preference, or when the lifespan of the implants is over (10–25 years). The decision to retain the same type, size, and shape of implants is ultimately up to the patient.

This procedure can also be combined with other options, such as a breast lift or the removal of scar tissue in order to revitalize the area.

It is important to note that the cost of implant replacement tends to be higher compared to implant removal. The expenses include the initial removal procedure, the cost of new replacement implants, and any associated additional procedures. The total out-of-pocket expenses for implant replacement can vary based on factors like your chosen procedure package and geographical location.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

5 Responses to “How Long Do Breast Implants Last?”

  1. Avatar Plastica says:

    Very informative article, i’m thinking about doing this procedure. I’m researching…

  2. Avatar Olivia says:

    In just over a month, I’m getting my breast augmentation surgery. I am just wondering for the first few days, will I be needed support or is this something I can do decently on my own and how long will I be taking off from work? I’ve read in this article that it takes about 6 weeks for the breast augmentation surgery to fully heal, and a few months before the marks fade away. Just looking for additional inputs.

  3. Avatar Pamela says:

    Want to pay visit with your group. I have saline implants put in place in Houston, Sugarland over 30 years ago. I knew the day was coming and with life events of course, I have a slow leak in left breast and right one is leaking. They were done under the muscle, I believe Mentor but not sure, blue shell and feathery texture. I was flat as a board and 5’9. I believe he filled me to 34 0r 36 C. I have gained over 30 pounds since those days, Large boned and at least 160. I am really scared of the shell clinging in side the pocket as it leaks more although I have read it can discenegrate over time. Please help me decide what to do. I do not want to any hard pushes on the boobs for fear they will pop. I have not had an MRI but think this could be best on examine. I had recently had imaging and all looks great, no cancer.

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