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Do gummy bear breast implants need to be replaced?

Gummy bear breast implants, also known as cohesive gel implants, are a popular choice for breast augmentation and reconstruction. Unlike traditional silicone gel implants that have a liquid-like filling, gummy bear implants maintain their shape even when the implant shell is broken. This cohesiveness gives them a firmer, more natural feel than traditional implants.

Many women wonder if gummy bear implants need to be replaced down the road like traditional silicone gel implants. Here’s a look at the lifespan and replacement recommendations for cohesive gel breast implants.

Do cohesive gel implants need to be replaced?

The FDA recommends replacing traditional silicone gel-filled implants after 10-15 years due to the potential for silent rupture and implant failure. However, gummy bear breast implants have a lower risk of rupture and may not need to be replaced as often.

According to implant manufacturers like Allergan and Mentor, there is no recommended replacement schedule for their cohesive gel implants. Rather than recommending replacement after a set timeframe, they advise having periodic MRI scans to check the condition of the implants and determine if replacement is necessary.

As long as gummy bear implants remain intact without any signs of rupture or other problems, replacement is not required.

How long do cohesive gel implants last?

Although manufacturers don’t give a set lifespan for their cohesive gel implants, data shows they can last much longer than traditional silicone implants:

Low rupture rates

Several studies have found very low rupture rates with cohesive gel implants, even up to 15-20 years after implantation:

– A study of 475 patients found a rupture rate of just 2.7% at an average of 11.7 years after surgery.

– Another study of 144 breast reconstruction patients found a rupture rate of 0% at 7 years follow-up.

– A 10-year study of 105 women found a rupture rate of 0% for cohesive gel implants.

The firmer cohesive fill leads to greater durability and resistance to rupture over time. By comparison, up to 20% of traditional silicone implants experience silent rupture within 10 years.

Stable gel cohesivity

The cohesivity of the gel within gummy bear implants has been found to remain stable over time. Even 15-20 years after surgery, the implants maintain shape and integrity.

This stable cohesive gel gives the implants long-term durability and resistance to problems like rupture, fold failure, and gel bleed that become more common as traditional silicone implants age.

High patient satisfaction

In addition to their low rupture rates, patients with cohesive gel implants tend to have high satisfaction rates even 5-10 years after their procedure:

– A 10-year study found 95% of patients continued to report being satisfied with their cohesive gel implants.

– After 6 years, total satisfaction was 93% in one study of 168 patients.

– Another study found patients had a satisfaction rate of 89.2% at 7 years follow-up.

This data demonstrates the long-term durability and performance of cohesive gel implants over traditional silicone options. Patients continue to be pleased with their results many years later.

When might replacement be needed?

Although cohesive gel implants can remain intact for 10-15+ years in many women, certain situations may call for earlier replacement:

Implant rupture

While less common than with traditional silicone implants, cohesive gel implants can still potentially rupture, especially if exposed to blunt force trauma. If an MRI detects a ruptured implant, it will need to be replaced.

Capsular contracture

Scar tissue forming around the implant, called capsular contracture, may distort the breast shape over time. Grade 3 or 4 contracture may warrant implant removal and replacement.

Dissatisfaction with results

In some cases, the patient may be unhappy with the cosmetic results from their cohesive gel implants, like incorrect sizing. Elective replacement can improve the appearance.

Breast cancer diagnosis

If a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, the implants will likely need to be removed and replaced following cancer treatment and mastectomy.

How is implant replacement performed?

Replacing cohesive gel implants involves a surgical procedure similar to the original augmentation. The old implants are removed and new ones inserted through the existing incisions or newly created incisions.

The same options for implant shape, size, projection, and surface are available when choosing the replacement implants. Incision placement can also be changed if desired, such as replacing transaxillary implants using an inframammary approach.

Implant replacement is often performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. Recovery is similar to the initial surgery, with soreness, swelling, and limitations on activity for several weeks.

Replacement options

When gummy bear implants need replacing, patients have three main options:

1. Replace with new cohesive gel implants

Many patients are happy with their original gummy bear implants and choose to replace them with new ones of the same cohesive gel type. An advantage is that replacement cohesive gel implants come in a variety of improved styles from leading implant manufacturers.

2. Change to traditional silicone gel implants

Although cohesive gel implants have benefits like a firmer gel and lower risk of complications, some patients may prefer the softer, more natural feel of traditional silicone implants. Replacement gives the opportunity to change implant filling types.

3. Switch to saline implants

For patients concerned about silent rupture, replacement offers a chance to change to saline-filled implants. Since they have a saltwater filling, any leaks will be obvious as the breast deflates. The tradeoff is a slightly higher risk of visible rippling or wrinkling.

Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to replace implants?

The cost for implant replacement surgery ranges from $5,000 – $12,000 depending on the complexity, surgeon fees, anesthesia, and hospital charges. Replacement costs are generally similar to the original surgery.

Can I switch implant brands when I replace them?

Yes, you can opt to switch brands or manufacturers when you replace your breast implants. Some reasons for switching may be to get a different gel cohesivity, warranty, pricing, sizing range, or incision options.

Will there be additional scarring after implant replacement?

If the same incision site is used to insert the new breast implants, additional scarring should be minimal. However, if new incisions are created or old ones widened, some additional scarring is to be expected. The surgeon will minimize this as much as possible.

How long is recovery after implant replacement?

Full recovery takes 4-6 weeks for most patients having breast implants replaced. Return to non-strenuous daily activities is possible within 2-5 days. Exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided for several weeks until healing progresses.

Do I need to replace both implants if only one ruptures?

It’s generally recommended to replace both breast implants simultaneously, even if only one has ruptured or failed. This maintains optimal symmetry in breast size, shape, and feel.


Unlike traditional silicone breast implants that the FDA recommends replacing every 10-15 years, cohesive gel “gummy bear” implants may not need routine replacement. With their durable cohesive filling and long-term safety data, many patients go 15 years or longer before requiring a new set of implants. However, periodic MRIs and exams are important to monitor implant integrity and health of the surrounding breast tissue. If rupture, severe contracture, or other complications occur, timely implant replacement can restore the look and feel of your breasts.