FAQs About Breast Implants
How often would I have to have my implants replaced?
With saline implants, statistics indicate you could expect to spring a leak at around 12 to 15 years — less for some. Saline-filled implants are like water balloons basically, so the tiniest of holes could mean a flat tire overnight. There is also a chance that the saline fluid could escape from the fill valve that is used to fill the implants during surgery. With the new pre-filled silicone gel implants, there is much less likelihood of implant failure. The gel inside is like overcooked jelly–too stiff to spread on your toast. Therefore, even if a tiny hole should arise in the wall of the implant, the gel inside would not be able to flow out. This means that the new gels are likely to last in the neighborhood of 20 years or more. Issues like weight loss or gain and skin sagging are more likely to lead you to want a re-do than an actual implant failure. If you are not having any problems, there is no need for a routine change out. If everything looks and feels fine, then it probably IS fine!
Are the new silicone gels safe?
The old silicone implants that caused all the hub bub were taken off the market in the early 90’s. Think of the old silicone implants like undercooked jelly that didn’t quite “set up”. It was more “runny” and if the wall of the implant had a leak, the silicone gel could ooze out into the breast gland creating lumps.
In 2006, the US FDA approved the most recent version of silicone gel implants, and since then, they have been widely used and successful. They are very natural and soft, and no negative side effects have been shown in comparison.
Recently, implant companies have been able to offer even stiffer gel-filled implants that have a tear-drop shape to more anatomically resemble a woman’s breast. These are often referred to as gummy bear implants. Some women may prefer this option, though it is not for everyone.
How will having implants affect my mammograms?
Of course you must still obey the rules regarding mammography, and do them regularly as would any woman. You may feel like your implants are being squished into pancakes, but there is no indication that it does any long-term damage to your implants. If you have saline implants that already happen to have a weakness in the outer wall, a mammogram could cause a rupture or force out any remaining fluid if a leak was already in progress.
A down side is that any type of implants can decrease mammography accuracy by a tiny amount–3%-ish. But the good news is that implants increase the accuracy of your own self-exams by something like 15%. Years of study have shown that having implants does not delay your cancer diagnosis any more than without implants. Implant manufacturers suggest MRI testing for greater accuracy if results appear questionable.
Will I be able to breast feed with implants?
Your breast glands will still likely be able to produce milk, especially if your implants were placed in incisions made via the inframammary folds (underneath the breasts). If your implants were placed though areolar incisions, your milk production could possibly be affected. If one or both of your nipples lose feeling from the surgery, they may not get hard enough for the baby to latch onto, causing you to have to pump to retrieve the milk. Some woman inherently may not have been able to produce milk or enough of it even without implants, so those risks would still be the same.
Do I have to wait until after I am done having kids to get implants?
No way–women in their early 20’s and 30’s do not have to wait to rock their bikinis! Implants are not dangerous to an unborn or breast-feeding child. The unknown is how much the appearance of your breasts and nipples will be affected by the weight you gain with pregnancy, and how much of it you lose afterwards. The way our bodies change with pregnancy is unpredictable, but the more you control your weight during and after pregnancy, the less it will affect your post-delivery breast and nipple appearance, with or without implants.
How do I decide what size implant is right for me?
It’s like choosing a wedding dress—you really gotta’ try on a few to decide. The manufacturers make recommendations based on your breast measurements and rib cage width. There are many different sizes and profiles to choose from to help you get the look you desire. With so many choices though, the best advice will be from your surgeon. They are experienced in knowing what implants look best with different body shapes and sizes. You really have to be honest with your surgeon about the look you are going for, so they can offer you the best suggestions and help you make the right choice that will be perfect for you.