The Aging of Breast Implants
Many women come to my office after having breast implants in place for many years and feeling that their breasts “just don’t look the same.” this is a very common complaint for women who have breast implants for over 10 years or been pregnant and breastfeed after their original operation.
The normal breast implant is be contained within a breast “capsule” made of collagen. This has very little elastic properties and normally will stay in place over time. However, the breast itself tends to age “off of the implant” since normal skin has more elastic tendencies, which tend to relax over time. Most notably after breastfeeding and pregnancy. Thus, there is a loss of harmony between the implant and the breast itself.
The treatment usually involves several things to restore the balance between the breast and implant. Firstly, a breast lift is needed to reposition the breast tissue back into a more youthful position. The extent of lift primarily depends upon the amount of droop to the breast. The more the nipple points downward, the more extensive the lift. This needs to be determined only through an in person consultation.
The breast implant is usually older (except in pregnancy cases) and may need to be addressed as well. The implant is best accessed at the time of the breast lift, but not absolutely necessary. If the implants are more than 10 years old, I frequently recommend exchanging them for new implants. For lack of a more elegant example, it is always better to change a tire before it goes flat, than wait for it to happen, as it usually occurs at the most inconvenient time. The lift procedure provides ideal exposure to the implant facilitating a simple exchange procedure.
Another benefit to this is that it allows you to make a change to the implant volume if you desire. Since this procedure usually occurs years after the original surgery, many women feel that they may want a different volume of implant to suit the different time in their lives. Also, having experience for years with the previous implant allows one to make a much more informed decision.
Occasionally, the breast capsule may need to be adjusted to give a more natural appearance to the breasts allowing the implant to sit more naturally on the chest. This again is easily accomplished through virtually any lift incision.
Since this process is so varied from patient to patient, it is impossible to know your exact needs without an in-office consultation, but rest assured that there are solutions to your problem.
Our ultimate goal is a natural, balanced breast together with the implant that simultaneously achieves your aesthetic goals. If you are interested in knowing more about your options for a revisionary breast surgery, call our San Diego office at 858-638-9800. If you are out of town you can click here to submit your information and photographs for a “virtual consultation.”
Vincent Marin, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon