Palm Desert Plastic Surgery Blog

I had my breast implants placed in the 1970s or 1980s… What do I do now???

I had my breast implants placed in the 1970s or 1980s… What do I do now???I am always amazed by how many women are completely unaware regarding having the status of their old implants evaluated medically by a Plastic Surgeon.  Many patients often tell me, “Nobody ever told me that I should go and get them looked at”.  When I ask women with 30 year implants (or even older) “why didn’t you do anything regarding your implants until now?” they often reply, “I never had a problem with them!”

1970s and 1980s breast implants are far less reliable

Firstly, silicone gel implants that were manufactured back in the 1970s and 1980s are far less reliable regarding quality than the more highly-cohesive silicone gel breast implants that are being manufactured in today’s times.  There are 3 major manufacturers here in the US- Allergan, Mentor and Sientra.  They have made the silicone shell on the outside if the implants thicker, and the gels inside much more cohesive through cross-linking of the silicone polymers, and therefore the newer gels won’t “run out” into your breast pockets (even if ruptured) the way old gels will.

Many women who present to me with old, silicone implants have very hardened and misshapen breasts.  I will often ask them how long they have noticed the hardening- and most reply “for some years or so” and they are always pretty surprised, and sometimes even shocked when I tell them, “then your implants have likely been ruptured for that long!”  I explain how the body’s response to exposure to foreign material, such as ruptured silicone gel, is to ward it off with scar tissue- and that is the “capsule” that develops around the implant… and that the capsule may get thickened and then hardened, and sometimes even calicified over time with ongoing inflammation.  So, if you or you know of anyone who has had silicone gel implants placed before the year 2000… tell them to go and seek consultation with a Plastic Surgeon about removals and treatment options!

Saline implants are not as much of a problem.  Overall, saline implants have not changed a lot in their composition over time- essentially they are a silicone shell filled with sterile salt-water during surgery.  When they “rupture” it is typically like a “flat tire” and will go flat… so you should notice immediately.  Saline implants within the body will not cause any undue harm.  The most likely effect is that your implants may get encapsulated and hardened… and then you should have them replaced with “capsulectomies”- a procedure that removes the hardened tissue around the old implants.

Many women tell me “but all my mammograms have been fine!”  Mammography is NOT a very sensitive test to detect breast implant rupture.  More sensitive tests include Breast Ultrasound and Breast MRI.  Again, if you suspect an implant rupture, consult a Board-certified Plastic Surgeon to discuss your best imaging and treatment options!

To learn more about the plastic surgery treatments and procedures performed by Dr. Suzanne Quardt (Dr. Q) please contact us at 760-324-2660. To learn more about Dr. Q’s Medical Spa please visit

Dr. Q Medical Spa receives patients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and other suburbs and towns in this part of California.

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Rancho Mirage

Newport Beach

70-017 Highway 111, Suite #1
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
Tel: 760-537-4579

1101 Bayside Drive
Suite 200
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
Tel: (949) 674-4058