Secondary breast augmentation procedures are common. A secondary breast augmentation procedure commonly occurs when patients have had there breast implants in place for greater than 10 years. Both saline and silicone gel implants are surrounded by a silicone elastomer shell. Over time, with repeated folding, the shell can break. If a patient has saline implants, a break in the shell will be easily detected because the saline leaks out, is absorbed by the body and one breast becomes obviously smaller than the other breast. Silicone gel implants, because the gel is cohesive, is not often as readily detected. The leak may be detected on an MRI.
The shell of either saline or silicone gel implants is on the order of 10-15 years. Often patients will choose to come to have their implants replaced at the 10 year mark. In the setting of a silicone implant, it is often a lot easier to remove an implant which is intact compared to an implant which has been ruptured. Secondary breast augmentation usually entails opening the previous incision, removing the implant, and placing a new implant back into position. Any adjustments to the implant pocket can be performed at that time to enhance the appearance of the augmentation.