Today’s “5th generation” silicone breast implants are more durable than ever. However, they are not considered lifetime devices, and eventually a patient can expect to replace them—the question is when. Recently, Las Vegas cosmetic surgeon Dr. Samir Pancholi published an article to help clarify the matter for patients.
“Neither the FDA nor breast implant manufacturers specify when you should replace breast implants, leaving many patients unsure about when they should get new implants,” explains Dr. Pancholi, a diplomate of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery who specializes in breast augmentation and implant revision surgery. “Given that the risk for complications increases significantly in breast implants after 10 years, I advise patients to consider exchanging their implants about this time, particularly if they have older silicone gel implants.”
He says that while the majority of patients do not experience problems with their implants even after this time, replacing silicone gel implants before the risk for rupture increases can help patients minimize costs and risks of breast implant revision surgery—as well as help them get more predictable, symmetrical results.
Surgery to remove and replace a ruptured silicone gel implant is often more complex and costly.
Dr. Pancholi states that while the procedure to replace a ruptured silicone gel implant is typically successful when performed by an experienced cosmetic surgeon, it presents certain challenges: “When a ruptured silicone gel implant is replaced, a cosmetic surgeon will typically remove the capsule—that’s the normal encasement of scar tissue that forms around the implant following breast augmentation—as well.”
He explains that because the capsule contributes to breast shape, removing it can alter the shape of the breast once a new implant is inserted, possibly requiring a longer or more costly surgery to achieve good symmetry.
Dr. Pancholi notes that the 10-year timeframe is less critical for patients who have saline-filled or highly cohesive “gummy bear” implants, and that patients who are not experiencing problems can usually wait to replace them.
Capsule removal typically isn’t necessary following a saline implant rupture—the saline filling is safely absorbed by the body, and a new implant can be placed in the existing capsule.
In contrast, gummy bear implants have very thick gel that will not migrate outside the implant shell. “The likelihood for rupture is much lower at 10 years compared to standard gel implants,” states Dr. Pancholi. He recommends that patients monitor gummy bear implants via MRI and replace them if a rupture is identified.
Patients should maintain a relationship with their cosmetic surgeon after breast augmentation
Dr. Pancholi stresses that the decision about if and when to replace implants should ultimately be made on a case-by-case basis, between a patient and her doctor.
“While patients need to understand how their risk of implant-related complications increases over time, the most important thing is to maintain an ongoing relationship with their cosmetic surgeon, and contact them with any concerns. By doing so, a cosmetic surgeon can help patients make the safest, most appropriate choice regarding implant removal and replacement,” he states.
In addition, Dr. Pancholi advises patients who have silicone-based breast implants to follow FDA recommendations for follow-up care, including MRIs to screen for possible complications three years after your initial procedure and then every two years for the life of the breast implants..
About Cosmetic Surgery of Las Vegas: Dr. Samir Pancholi specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, breast and body. He is Past-President of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, a Fellow with the Federation of State Medical Boards, American Association of Osteopathic Examiners, and a Governor-Appointed Member of the Nevada State Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Based in Las Vegas, his clientele comes from throughout the United States and globally. Visit drpancholi.com or call 702.363.0240 for more information. Dr. Pancholi is available for interview upon request.
SOURCE: Cosmetic Surgery of Las Vegas