Breast Implants After 20 Years— Can It Last That Long?

Many women want to know how long implants can last. What will happen to breast implants after 20 years? Can it even last that long? Well, one thing we can assure you is that implants are by no means lifetime devices. However, they are made to be safe and very durable.

Breast implants after 20 years

There is no other cosmetic procedure as popular as breast implant surgery. What seemed to be a taboo many years ago has now become the talk of time. Many women all around the world are getting implants to adjust the shape and size of their natural breasts. When interests begin to grow over a given product or service, it is normal for more questions to arise too. Some questions will be out of experiences and genuine concerns. And some will come from curiosity. Whichever is the case, many women want to know how long implants can last. What will happen to breast implants after 20 years? Can it even last that long? Well, one thing we can assure you is that implants are by no means lifetime devices. However, they are made to be safe and very durable.

More so, today’s implants are products of extensive research that have gone on for decades. Experts have researched well enough that they not only use very stable fillers but they also use stronger shells. As such, you should expect an average implant to last for at least a decade. But there is no guarantee on that. Aside from the strength of the shell and the stability of the filler, many other factors contribute to the risk of rupture. More so, this risk increases by about 1 percent yearly after you get the implant. So by the end of a decade, the implant still has about 90% chance of being fully intact. This does not, however, factor in many other things that can contribute to implant rupture aside from the quality of the implant itself. Some implants rupture within weeks of implantation, while some last for more than a decade. You can’t predict what will happen with implants.

Historical View if Implants in America

The first sets of implants sold in the American market were made of silicone envelopes. The filling of these implants was either saline or silicone gel. That was about 60 years ago. However, they had relatively low sales for about two full decades.

By the turn of the 90s, however, about 1 million women already had breast implants. The interesting thing is that there were no published safety studies at that time. Most of the women who had implants at that time went for silicone gel implants. Even plastic surgeons at that time preferred the option.

The standard in America is that medical products have to be proven effective and safe before they appear on the market for sale. But this was not the case with implanted devices until 1976. It was not even until 1991 that the FDA mandated breast implant manufacturing companies to prove the safety of their implants before selling them. At that time, breast implants had been on the market for almost 3 decades.

At that time, there was widespread media coverage on women that had implant problems. These reports also quoted many doctors who have raised concerns about implant safety. From that point, the FDA required companies to provide their safety data before they can give their approval.

But remember that this was all about silicone implants. 

There were still no regulations on saline implants until the year 2000. Even at that time, the rates of complications were quite high. But the FDA still approved the sale of saline implants.

Silicone implants got their approval much later in November of the year 2006. So what happened to silicone implants from 1992 to 2006? In those 14 years, the FDA restricted silicone implants to use for clinical trials, mostly for those managing cancer patients and those who have broken implants.

As of now, the rules are more accommodating. But then, there are still certain restrictions. For instance, the FDA does not approve implants for any women below 22 years old.

Breast Implants after 20 Years – Can it Last That Long?

Implants are not in any way biodegradable. So it’s not whether they can last or not. The question should be “how long will their structural integrity be trustworthy”? But then, the implant type and the filling volume are important too.

Silicone implants contain silicone fillings. Moreover, the manufacturers fill it themselves. So they are accurately filled as recommended. We know that silicone implant rupture can be more dangerous. But then, saline implants have more variables when it comes to filling.

Surgeons are the ones that fill saline implants during the procedure. As such, the surgeon gets to decide the volume to fill into the shell. This means the surgeon can sometimes over-fill or under-fill the implant. This can happen for various reasons. Sometimes, the doctor factors in the breast size his patient is aiming for, as well as the desired texture.

So you see that many factors come into play. As such, it is hard to tell the exact durability of an implant. But we know that some women still have the same implants they got more than 20 years ago.

Experts did 10 years of post-implant studies on saline implants. They found that the rate of deflation is about 5-6 percent over those 10 years. However, there is yet to be any reliable study on silicone implants to know whether they will leak or not.

But if we will be honest with you, any implant you get into your breast will break someday. What we don’t know is how long it will take before it breaks.

Experts say that their studies suggest that most silicone implants will last 7 to 12 years. However, some break as early as the first few months. And some remain intact for over 15 years. FDA scientists claim that from their studies, most women will have at least 1 broken implant before 11 years after implantation.

So then, only a few implants maintain their structural integrity g for as long as 20 years. And even those will eventually break someday. It’s only a matter of time. As each year passes by, the risk of rupture increases.


Those who get implants are relatively young and middle-aged women. These people are very much likely to outlive their implants. As such, if you are getting an implant, you should keep in touch with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon. It is even better to retain the person who handled your implantation.

When you get breast implants, keep in mind that you will most likely need to review or replace the implants sooner or later. Even if breast implants after 20 years remain intact, they will still break someday.

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