Breast Augmentation and Aging

March 27, 2015

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s (ASPS) most recent report on plastic surgery statistics for 2014, breast augmentation was once again the single most popular cosmetic surgical procedure performed by ASPS member surgeons. For 2014, almost 300,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed. According to 2013 ASPS survey findings, the average age of women who undergo a breast augmentation procedure was between 30 and 39, so many of these women undergo the procedure following one or more pregnancies. Given the most common age demographic that is opting for breast augmentation surgery, it is common for patients to ask Dr. Marcus Crawford or Dr. Steven Bailey about the potential effect of aging, not only on the shape and size of their breasts, but on the actual implants themselves.

The Aging Body

Patients should expect the normal course of aging to affect the breast tissue, just as it affects other parts of the body. Factors such as pregnancy, lactation, weight gain or loss, or sun exposure have some affect on the shape and size of the breasts over time, whether or not they are augmented with implants. Breast skin may grow thinner or lose elasticity due to changes in weight, breastfeeding, or excessive sun exposure. In the case of augmented breasts, this may cause the implants to shift location and show through the skin, or sometimes harden, as a result of capsular contracture.

Capsular contracture can be particular worrisome for patients who undergo breast augmentation. In some cases, the pocket that is created to hold the implants may be compressed by excessive scar tissue buildup. This condition can be more common among older patients who undergo breast augmentation.

The Aging Implants

In most cases, Drs. Crawford and Bailey will not recommend that patients have their breast implants removed unless they are having issues, such as a rupture, leak, or capsular contracture. As long as the implants are not causing a problem, there is not a need to remove them, unless the patient wishes to change implant size or material or simply no longer wishes to have implants.

All of this being said, there are guidelines put in place by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the recommended lifespan of implants. The FDA has the responsibility to oversee the safe manufacture and use of breast implants. Although the FDA does not recommend a specific time after which implants should be removed, the agency does note that they should not be considered a lifetime device, and that as many as one in five women will need to have their implants removed or replaced after 10 years.

Of course, it is impossible to accurately predict the future. Some patients who undergo breast augmentation may find that they have not experienced any problems over the long haul, while others may have the exact opposite experience. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to remove implants is up to each individual patient.

To learn more about breast augmentation, or to schedule a breast implant revision procedure, please contact Crawford Plastic Surgery today.

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