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Aged Breast Implants vs Aged Breasts: What Happens to Breast Implants as we Age?

Author: Dr Isolde Hertess 2-minute read

Breast implant surgery is the leading plastic surgery procedure across the globe, according to the 2022 ASPS Plastic Surgery Statistics Report. Many women get breast implants while unaware of the aging process of these implants. Just as our bodies change and evolve with time, so do breast implants. Aged implants are quite distinct from the natural aging process of breasts - both of which will be discussed here. This blog will answer the question “what happens to breast implants as we age?”

Dr Isolde Hertess is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with 27 years of experience performing cosmetic breast surgery, including aged breast implant surgery (breast implant removal and/or breast implant replacement). In this article, we will explore the differences between old breast implants and aging changes in the breast, as well as the causes, symptoms, potential problems, detection, and treatment options for aged breast implants.

Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.20.42 pmImage 1: Demonstration of aged breast implants (14 years old). Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Aged breasts

Breast aging is an inevitable part of life. With time, our skin loses elasticity, and breasts can sag and become more asymmetrical.

"Aged breasts are when you have a longer breast, looser skin, the nipples are lower, and the breast itself is lower. The breast then sits on the top part of the tummy rather than on the chest wall," says Dr Hertess.

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This is how aging changes the breasts:


As we age, our breast tissue loses volume and elasticity, causing breasts to droop or sag down the chest wall.


Asymmetrical breasts are quite common, and this may become more noticeable as the breasts change in shape with age. 

Nipple changes

As breasts age, nipples may appear larger or stretched due to sagging skin. It's common that the nipple will be lower on the chest (rather than being central).

Reduced volume

With pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause, breast tissue can reduce over time leading to a 'longer' breast shape rather than it being round.

Stretch marks

With age, the ligaments in the breast stretch and so does the skin. This can often result in stretch marks.

Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.20.50 pmImage 2: Demonstration of aged breast implants. Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Causes of Aged Breasts

When talking about the causes of aged breasts, several factors come into play, and it's important to understand that age isn't the sole contributor.

In fact, aged breasts are not only a concern for those getting older. Young women can also have signs of breast aging well before their time. The main causes of sagging breasts at a young age are genetics and weight fluctuations.

Different causes of aged breasts include:

  • Genetic Makeup can predetermine how quickly and significantly your breasts age.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding can cause fluctuations in breast size, contributing to sagging even at a young age.
  • Weight Changes have a significant impact on breasts. Regular fluctuations lead to stretch marks and loose skin, ultimately affecting the appearance of both natural and augmented breasts.
  • Lifestyle Choices like smoking drastically speed up the aging process, and can lead to premature sagging of breasts.

Dr Isolde Hertess, a specialist Plastic Surgeon with 27 years of experience, has been working closely with women, helping them understand and navigate the aging process of breasts.

Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.20.57 pmImage 3: Demonstration of aged breast implants. Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Aged breast implants

Many women seeking breast implant surgery wonder, "What happens to breast implants as you get older?" This is a common question and worthwhile to know before undergoing surgery.

Breast implants change over time. With time, aged breast implants may:

  • Change in shape and feel
  • Implant leak and rupture, or
  • Cause pain around the area of the implant (due to implant rupture, leakage or capsular contracture caused by the body reacting to an old implant)

"One reason that you may suspect an aged implant is if you get a capsular contracture all of a sudden after 10 years.

So, the breast is normal and all of a sudden, it starts to go hard and changing in position, or if there is pain in the breast, related to the implants where there hasn't been before, then I would classify that as an aged implant and the imaging is important to see what's happening," says Dr Hertess.

Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.21.03 pmImage 4: Demonstration of aged breast implants. Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Causes of Aged Implants

The aging of breast implants is a natural process that occurs over time. The type of implant, surgical technique and lifestyle habits often do not have an impact on the breast implant lifespan. 

Symptoms of Old Breast Implants

Many people ask "What happens when breast implants get old?" As we've discussed, aged breast implants can wear out and leak or rupture causing problems to appear with the breasts.. It's important to look out for signs of breast implant problems including:

Folded Breast Implants

Some implants as they get older become softer and fold. This is due to the implant shell weakening over time, also known as “shell fatigue.”


Over time, Aged breast implants can develop wear and tear on the shell, leading to rupture and leakage.

Deflated Breasts

When a saline implant ruptures, the saltwater solution leaks out of the shell and is absorbed by the body. The breast then appears deflated.

Hardened Breast Implants

Over time, scar tissue that develops around the implant (the capsule) will become thicker as a reaction to a leaking or ruptured implant causing the breast to become hard or misshapen. This is known as capsular contracture.

Implant Displacement

Older implants may shift position as they lose their original shape and structure. This is known as breast implant malposition.Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.34.45 pm

Image 5: Demonstration of aged breast implants. Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Lifespan - How long do breast implants last?

It is a false belief that breast implants with last a lifetime. Breast implants are not intended to be lifelong devices. They are manufactured medical devices and have a recommended lifespan of 10-15 years. 

This lifespan doesn't vary with brand. With TGA regulations and manufacturer regulations, a similar lifespan is expected across all manufactured implant brands.

Prevention - Can you prevent implants ageing?

Aged breast implants are a natural part of having breast augmentation, and it’s not possible to prevent implant aging changes. 

"As it's a material, it will age. Like if you leave the shoes in the cupboard, they'll disintegrate after a few years. The same with the silicone, it doesn't last forever," says Dr Hertess.

Detecting Old Breast Implant Problems

With Check-ups

Regular breast check-ups are encouraged for detecting any potential signs of old breast implants.

With Imaging

Aged implants are best diagnosed with imaging, like ultrasound, MRI or a CT Scan.

The FDA recommends that you have your implants screened via MRI three years after your breast augmentation surgery, and every two years thereafter.

"I always caution people having an ultrasound, as they're about 60% accurate," says Dr Hertess.

A CT scan or an MRI will show an aged implant and whether it's folded, leaking or ruptured.

Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.34.52 pmImage 6: Demonstration of aged breast implants, the right breast shows capsular contracture. Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Treatment for Aged Breast Implants

When treating old breast implants, the solution is always surgical.

"Breast implants last a long time, but there will come a time when they need to be replaced or removed," says Dr Hertess.

If you're experiencing any discomfort, unusual changes in your breasts, or believe that your breast implants may be aged, it's important to consult with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon and explore the best course of action for you.

A replacement or total removal of your breast implants may be recommended.

Removing implants

Breast implant removal involves the surgical extraction of your existing implants, along with any scar tissue that may have formed around them (the capsule). The procedure is typically straightforward and can be done through the same incision used for the initial breast augmentation.

Replacing aged implants with new ones

If your old implants are causing issues or discomfort, and you desire to keep the same size breast, you can replace them with new ones. This is also an opportunity to discuss any concerns or desired size changes with your Plastic Surgeon. Replacing aged implants can help restore symmetry and improve the overall appearance of the breasts.

Breast lift

In some cases, women may opt to remove their aged implants and/or replace them - while having a breast lift at the same time. This is often chosen when the skin has stretched or sagged due to aging or weight fluctuations. A breast lift can help restore a more central and lifted appearance to the breasts.

Screenshot 2024-05-06 at 1.40.23 pmImage 7: Before (left) and after (right) removal and replacement of aged breast implants. Real patient of Dr. Isolde Hertess, Specialist Plastic Surgeon. 

Aged Breast Implants - Frequently Asked Questions 

Is there an age limit to getting breast implants?

Many women ask "how old is too old for breast implants?" There is no specific age limit for getting breast implants, rather it depends on your overall health and suitability for surgery. It's important to consult with a specialist Plastic Surgeon and discuss any potential risks or concerns.

Why do breasts sag as you get older?

As we age, our skin naturally loses elasticity and becomes thinner. This can cause the breasts to sag or droop over time. Pregnancy, weight fluctuations, and genetics can also contribute to breast sagging.

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Is it OK to have breast implants for 20 years?

It is generally recommended to replace breast implants after 10-15 years, so having them for 20 years may increase the risk of complications. If you are not experiencing any discomfort or changes, it may be OK to keep your implants.

Make sure you get them checked routinely in line with the FDA's recommendation.

What happens if I never remove my breast implants?

If you never remove or replace your implants, they may become hardened, misshapen, or rupture over time. This can lead to discomfort, changes in appearance, and potential health risks. It's best to consult with Dr Hertess if you have any concerns about your aged implants.

How do breast implants look when you get old? 

Breast implants may appear normal, misshapen or asymmetrical as they age. They may also become harder to the touch, and visible rippling or folds may occur.

It's also common for the breast tissue to age and sag over the implant, causing a Waterfall effect.

Can old breast implants cause pain?

Yes, old breast implants can cause discomfort and pain. This may be due to changes in the implant's shape or position, scar tissue formation, and/or rupture and leaking.

Can old breast implants cause health issues?

Old breast implants can potentially cause health issues if they rupture or leak. This can lead to silicone into the axillary lymph nodes or into the surrounding breast tissue. 

It's important to regularly monitor your breast implants and consult with a specialist if you experience any changes or discomfort. 

How will I know my implants are ready to be replaced?

It's recommended to have your implants routinely checked with imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan, every 2-3 years. If any issues or changes are detected, it may be time to consider replacing your aged implants. It's also important to listen to your body and consult with a specialist if you experience any discomfort or unusual changes in your breasts.

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Aged Breast Implants Gold Coast

Breast implants are not designed to last forever and will naturally change over time. It's important to be aware of the symptoms of aged breast implants and regularly monitor your breasts for any changes. 

If you experience any discomfort or changes, consult with Dr Hertess to determine the best course of action for your aged implants.


Dr Isolde Hertess

Dr Isolde Hertess