When implants need to be replaced is a matter of some debate. That's because the data is variable for both saline and silicone. It is possible to get a lifetime out of your implants, without ever needing an exchange or second surgery. However, implants are not considered lifetime devices, and chances are you'll need an implant exchange at some time in your life. Most surgeons estimate that you can get between 10 and 20 years out of one set of implants.
Breast Implant Leaks and Ruptures
It's not uncommon for saline implants to leak (which isn't harmful to the body) because of a leak in the valve area, or a tear or hole in the implant — which occurs over time as a result of fold fatigue. Saline implants tend to leak at a rate of one percent to five percent per year. Your body absorbs the saltwater solution with no health consequence. However, the implant eventually deflates. Silicone can leak too, but it's sometimes less obvious (which is why MRIs are recommended). One of the implant manufacturers reports a rupture rate of two percent per seven years. Of course, it's possible to have a rupture earlier than that.
Other Reasons for Breast Implant Replacement
Rupture or leakage is only one reason why you may need to replace your implants (and, in fact, it's not even the most common reason). Besides deflation, issues such as capsular contracture, a change in shape or position, or increasing asymmetry are all reasons for implant replacement. Women also become unhappy with the size or position of the implant, especially if they've gained or lost weight. As implant technology gets better and better, it's not unreasonable to think that you may want to switch to a newer, even more natural looking (and feeling) implant if something new comes on the market. One good thing to keep in mind is that your recovery from a replacement surgery will be much easier. That's because most of the pain from breast augmentation is from creating the pocket under the muscle. Once that has been accomplished, performing a second surgery is much easier, and the pain is usually minor and most patients feel normal within a day or two
Breast Implant Warranties
Both Allergan and Mentor, the two major breast implant companies, provide lifetime warranties for their breast implants. If an implant ever ruptures, they provide you with a free implant. Although there are slight differences between their coverage, both also provide up to $1,200 for saline and $2,400 for silicone implants to cover the costs of replacement if the rupture occurs within the first ten years after surgery.