How Should I Check My Breast Implants?

We expect your breast implants to last around 15-20 years, but many patients wonder, is there anything you need to do to check your implants?  There are several things that you need to check on to maintain breast and implant health.  

First, you should follow regular recommendations for screening for breast cancer.  For most people, unless they are at high risk due to family history, this means getting screening mammograms starting at age 40.  Many patients ask, won’t getting a mammogram damage my implant?  While that is possible, breast implants are very tough and should be able to withstand the pressure of getting a mammogram.  Sometimes people notice a rupture after getting a mammogram, but it is more likely that the implant already had a small defect and the mammogram just made it more obvious than that the mammogram caused it.  Even if getting a mammogram were to cause a problem with your implants, making sure that you don’t have breast cancer is much more important, so definitely get your recommended mammograms!

If you have silicone implants, the next thing you need to do is to screen them for rupture.  Saline implants do not need screening because when they rupture, they will just deflate and the water will be absorbed by your body.  Silicone implants are filled with a solid gel, so when they rupture, you may not notice any changes for a while.  Usually when silicone implants rupture, the gel remains inside the pocket or capsule that your body has formed around the implants.  The reason for screening is that if silicone implants are ruptured and you don’t do anything about it, they are likely to become firm due to capsular contracture, a condition in which increased scar tissue forms around the implant.  You are recommended to get silicone implants checked with either an ultrasound or MRI starting at 5 years after they are placed, then again every 2-3 years following.  I offer all of my patients complimentary follow-up ultrasound implant checks in the office.  

Lastly, if at any point you notice a change in your implants, such as a change in shape, change in firmness, any lumps in the breast or armpit, or new pain around the implants, then you should make an appointment to get them checked by your plastic surgeon.  These could be signs of a problem with either the implants or the breasts, which may point to a need for further testing. 

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