Do my breast implants last forever?

Last Modified: May 8, 2009


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Do my breast implants last forever?


Rachel McKenna, MSN, CRNP, Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, responds:

Implants are not lifetime devices, and both saline and silicone implants can rupture and leak. If you have saline implants, you will notice a slow deflation of the implant. The body is able to absorb the salt water leaking out of the implant, and over a few days to weeks, you will notice that your implant gets smaller. If you have silicone implants, there may be a change in the shape of the implant; however, often times, there is no change at all. Many times, the only way to detect a leak in a silicone implant is through MRI. If you choose silicone implants, you will be scheduled for periodic MRIs to ensure that your implants are still intact. Implant rupture, regardless of saline or silicone, occurs at a rate of approximately 1% per year; this means that your implant can rupture at anytime after being placed. Most implants will need to be replaced every 15-20 years.