How Do I Know When My Breast Implants Need Replacing? (or Removing)

One of the biggest concerns breast implant patients have before undergoing the procedure is how long their breast implants will last and whether they will need revision surgery.

The good news is that, contrary to what you may have heard, there is no time limit on how long either silicone breast implants or saline breast implants will last.

That does not mean you will never have to face the decision of whether replacing breast implants is the best of your surgical options.

When is replacing breast implants the right course of action? That’s what we are going to discuss…

Alternatively, if you are worried and want your implants checked now, contact us today to book your consultation with our plastic surgeons who will be happy to assess you.


how do i know when my breast implants need replacing blog image

How do you know if your breast implants need to be replaced?

Breast implants need to be replaced at some point.

However, there are some key reasons why you may want to replace or remove them sooner rather than later, including:

  • suffering from capsular contracture
  • implant rupture
  • position change
  • palpability or rippling
  • or you simply do not like the size or shape of your breasts anymore

Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is a very common problem and is normally discovered if you start to feel a hardening and tightness of the scar, also referred to as the breast capsule, around your breast implant.

This can also cause your breast to shift up towards your armpit and become very uncomfortable.

It is known to occur in one breast or both and can happen very soon after surgery or can take many years to develop.

Implant Rupture

If you have saline breast implants, a leak can result in the implant deflating as your body absorbs the saline.

This can happen in just 24 to 48 hours following deflation and your breasts will look significantly different.

Women who have silicone gel implants and suffer implant ruptures may not recognise changes to their breasts.

The silicone gel found in implants is thicker than it was in the past and has a similar consistency to that of gummy bears or soft toffee.

Because of these gels, it is harder to detect ruptures because they will normally remain in the same place inside the capsule.

Furthermore, women do not have noticeable symptoms when they have a silent rupture.

Position Change

Weight fluctuations, as well as the effects of gravity and time, can cause breasts to sag and stretch.

If these changes bother you, a breast revision either from a breast augmentation replacement or mastopexy (breast lift) could help return your breasts to the way they looked and felt before.

Palpability or Rippling

Palpability is a term used to describe your ability to feel ripples below the surface after having implants.

Rippling refers to wrinkles and folds on a breast implant that are visible on your skin.

This tends to develop around the outer perimeter (near the cleavage, bottom, side) of your reconstructed breasts.

What are the symptoms of your body rejecting breast implants?

The interesting thing is that – although this is a common question and common concern among patients – modern breast implants, whether they are silicone breast implants or saline breast implants, do not generate a response from the immune system as they do not register as a foreign body.

There are still symptoms you should be aware of, which mean you could need to have a breast implant replacement procedure.

These symptoms of the body rejecting breast implants include:

  • Discomfort and pain or a prolonged loss of sensation around your breasts
  • Abnormal breast implant shape
  • Implant sitting either too low or too high
  • Breast tenderness
  • Asymmetry between your breasts
  • Deflated breast implant
  • Ruptured breast implant

While the above are the most common symptoms, it is also important to be aware in rarer cases, you may be experiencing symptoms typical of what some women and doctors call breast implant illness (BII).

This is often diagnosed when there is no medical explanation for the symptoms you are experiencing and can include:

  • Rashes and skin irritation
  • Headaches
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Breathlessness
  • Concentration and focus difficulties
  • Brain fog
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Thinning hair or hair loss

If things don’t improve and your symptoms are impacting your life, you may want to consider breast implant removal.

What happens if breast implants are not replaced?

There is no real or exact time limit on modern breast implants and how long they can last.

As long as there are no complications, ruptures, leaks or anything else, breast implants can be left in place indefinitely.

It is interesting, then, to consider the subject of what happens when you don’t replace breast implants. Well, it depends.

If there are no problems with the implants, nothing will happen.

They will continue to sit and continue to look as good as they did, in relation to your current weight and body shape, when you first had them put in.

There are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to the subject of what happens if your breast implants rupture or there are other complications, as it’s not something that can be easily tested for or analysed.

patient in bandages with breast implants getting doctor check over time

Generally speaking, however, whether you have silicone implants or saline implants, it is seen as best practice to have them removed and replaced if they have ruptured.

If silicone implants rupture and are not replaced it can result in inflammation, pain and even the development of scar tissue around the implant, also known as the aforementioned capsular contracture.

Even if saline breast implants rupture and there is no real chance of capsular contracture or any issues occurring, it would still be best to remove them and replace them.

Once implants have ruptured, they will lose their shape and size and therefore you will notice changes in the appearance of your breasts.

What happens to breast implants over time?

This is another important question concerning breast implants and one that is often overlooked and disregarded.

There is no escaping the fact that over time, breasts change. Whether your breasts are enhanced with implants or not, various things in life can cause changes in breasts.

For instance, weight loss and gain can change the size of your breasts, while pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause changes not just in the size, but also in the shape of your breasts.

Even if you do not experience any of the above, in time your breast tissue will start to shrink and the skin covering your breasts will start to stretch.

The result is what is known as ptosis, or droopiness. When you have implants, this can increase the degree how much your skin stretches.

However, the severity of this depends on your breast implants’ size.

The larger your breast implants are, the greater amount of skin stretching you will experience over time.

Why is it important to consider how breasts change over time, anyway? Well, for one thing, the appearance of your breasts will change as you get older.

Often breasts drop lower, resulting in a droopy appearance. As the breast tissue starts to thin out, your breast implants may be more visible thanks to rippling.

Another reason it’s important to consider how breasts change is, if you have your implants removed, you need to know that your breasts are going to look different to how they did before you had breast augmentation surgery.

Those changes again are due to the natural changes that breasts experience over the course of time and the skin stretching caused by having implants.

Many women are fine with this and do not worry about it.

Those who are concerned about it tend to have some further work done in the form of a breast lift to improve the look and feel of their breasts, whether their implants are removed or not.

Some may even elect to have further breast surgery or breast augmentation, in the form of new implants.

It’s rare that you’ll need to get your breast implants removed or want to, but this is also an option. Many patients are most interested in replacing implants if they’ve become problematic.

If you are concerned and want your breast implants assessed, contact us today to book your consultation with our plastic surgeons who will be happy to assess you.