Which Breast Implants Do I Need and How Long Will They Last?


When women come to Charlotte Plastic Surgery for breast augmentation, they want results that look elegant, proportional, and above all natural. Additionally, they want to choose the right type of breast implant and they want their breast implants to last. But what kind of lasting results can women truly expect from their breast implants? And what happens if life throws them a curveball?

When we talk about curveballs, we’re talking about life events such as illness, including breast cancer. We’re also encompassing all the changes motherhood brings, like weight gain and loss and breastfeeding.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that contribute to how long breast implants last, and also offer some tips on how to choose between the types of breast implants available today.

Advances in Breast Implant Technology

To begin with, it’s important to note that breast augmentation technology is always advancing thanks to rigorous scientific study and testing; and today’s implants are more durable and sophisticated than the ones of the past. One of the key ways in which today’s breast implants differ is that they offer greater longevity of results; simply put, modern breast implants are made to last.

There are a few clinical factors that can determine how long breast implants will last—including the physical characteristics of the breasts themselves, like the soft-tissue envelope and the breast parenchyma (the tissue itself).

Even more important are the type of breast implants used—and here, there are a number of options to consider.

Types of Breast Implants

When we think about the breast implants themselves, there are several features that can determine the longevity of results. These include:

  • The surface (are the implants smooth or textured?)
  • The type of filler (saline vs. gel)
  • The shell (thickness and pliability)
  • The implant shape (round vs. shaped/anatomical)

These are all important considerations that your physician can help you weigh, but the most important decision you make might be whether to opt for saline, silicone, or the new “Gummy Bear” breast implants. Let’s take a quick look at these three different options.

Saline Breast Implants

The saline breast implant consists of a silicone shell, filled with sterile saline water. The implant shell is inserted and then filled up during surgery, which means there is typically a smaller incision. Since the implant is filled with saltwater solution, they are sterile which means the body simply absorbs the saline if a rupture occurs.  Also, they’re firmer (which may be preferable to some patients) and typically cost less than silicone implants.

Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone implants, by contrast, are made up of silicone shells filled with silicone gel. Some women find these to be more natural-looking, but in decades past they were plagued by a high risk of implant rupture. For this reason, the FDA halted the use of these implants from 1992 through 2006.

Thankfully, silicone implants have been significantly overhauled; today, they are not only perfectly safe, but they are once again FDA-approved and come with very low risk of an implant rupture. There are a number of different types of silicone implants you can choose from, but the most modern and advancement is the new “Gummy Bear” version.

Gummy Bear Breast Implants

Gummy Bear implants have only been around for a couple of years now and represent an incredible new take on silicone implants. These too are comprised of silicone shells filled The Question How Long Do Breast Implants Last Is Determined By What Type Of Breast Implant is Usedwith silicone gel but they have a “tear-drop” shape that makes them stable and very low-risk. These implants get their name because they have a hard shell that holds its shape, even if you cut them in half—just like with Gummy Bear candies!

The important thing to know about these different types of implants is that you do have some options to consider, and the choice you make could impact how long your breast implants will last. We encourage you to consult with a plastic surgeon to decide which type of breast implant makes the most sense for your own breast augmentation.

Can I Breastfeed with Breast Implants?

The longevity of your implants depends on the type of breast implant as well as the natural characteristics of your breasts—but what about some of those other issues we brought up, like breastfeeding and breast implant illness?

We’ll start with breastfeeding. For years, there has been no significant research on the subject of breastfeeding with breast implants—but a recent study has changed that. In this landmark report, it’s noted that about 80 percent of patients can successfully breastfeed even after having implants. In fact, the report says that lactation complications were comparable to the general population of breast-feeding women, meaning implants may not even play a role in preventing women from breast-feeding.

In other words, it is unlikely that implants could prohibit you from successful breastfeeding, and the inability to breast-feed is a fairly small risk.

Breast Implants and Breast Implant Illness

Finally, what about breast implant illness? Is there any connection between breast augmentation and cancer?

The short answer is that there is, and it’s a risk patients should know about. Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is an exceedingly uncommon form of T-cell lymphoma that has been found to form around specific types of breast implants. This is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that attacks the immune system’s cells.

The good news is that incidents of this condition are extremely rare. Additionally, the prognosis is excellent and the condition is highly treatable; in fact, in known cases without a delayed diagnosis, 100 percent of all patients were cured.

A good way to look at it is that, with any surgery, there is always going to be some element of risk—and breast augmentation is no exception. With that said, for most patients, there’s not going to be any danger of cancer as a result of getting breast implants.

Making Sound Decisions About Breast Augmentation

As you consider getting breast implants, you can and should think about what it will mean for your health, and how breast augmentation will impact you for the rest of your life. Our recommendations: consult with a plastic surgeon to find out what kind of implants offer you the best longevity and the lowest risk, and make sure you fully understand any medical complications that could arise.

We are happy to talk with you about these topics and any others that you’re weighing. Contact Charlotte Plastic Surgery to initiate a conversation.