Do Breast Implants Get Weaker Over Time?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had saline breast implants placed under the muscle 11 years ago. While I know they have not ruptured, they seem to be less full and firm that they used to be. Is it possible that they are slowly leaking saline but without a rupture. Do saline implants get weaker over time and more likely to rupture? Are they more fragile now and more prone to rupture? Should I stop doing strenuous physical activities?

A: Your breast implant experience and questions are common. Many augmented breasts, although not all, over time will feel softer and less full years later. This is not the result of something going on inside the implants but rather what has happened on the outside. The pressure of breast implants over time will cause the loss of some breast tissue between the implant and the skin. This is known as pressure atrophy. With the loss of some breast tissue, the breasts will feel softer and less firm. With saline implants, the breasts may really feel loose and ripply as there is no longer as much tissue between the implant and the skin to act as a cushioning buffer…and this then reveals the more rippled surface of a saline implant.

The second part of your question is actually true. The shell or bag of a breast implant does get weaker over time, no different than any other manmade device. The constant stretching of the bag does over time create flaws or weak spots in the silastic shell which will eventually lead to a spot of rupture. While this is inevitable, there is no reason to stop doing any type of physical activity that you enjoy. This is not different than one stopping driving so their car tires will never wear out.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana