Implant surgery usually costs between $5,000-8,000, including the implants and one follow-up visit. Silicone gel breast implants usually cost about $1,000 more than saline implants.
However, there are a lot of other costs that you need to be aware of as you think about whether you can afford breast implants.
Whether you get silicone or saline breast implants, you need to expect to have more surgery in the future. Studies show that almost half the women will need additional surgery to fix implant problems within 3-4 years. That additional surgery often costs as much as the initial surgery. That is why we suggest that women considering breast implants make sure they have at least $5,000-8,000 in their savings that they will save and not spend until they need it for their next implant surgery.
All breast implants will eventually break. When saline implants break it is obvious because they deflate quickly, so one breast will be much larger than the other. When silicone gel breast implants break, there are often no symptoms at first. Having no symptoms might seem like an advantage, but it is really a disadvantage because silicone can leak out of the hole in the implant, and get to parts of the body where surgeons can’t remove it. Leaking silicone can cause pain and allergic or auto-immune reactions. When the leaking silicone is removed, breast tissue may be removed as well, and so the breast may look deformed.
Because of concerns about leaking silicone, the FDA warns that women with silicone gel breast implants need to get an MRI to check for leakage after 3 years, and then every other year after that. Unfortunately, breast MRIs cost about $2,000 each, sometimes more. That may seem very expensive, but it is the only accurate way to know if your implants are broken or leaking. If they are leaking, it is important to have them removed immediately.
How long will your breast implants last? You might want to think of a breast implant as lasting as long as a car. If your car is a lemon you may need to replace it after just a few months or a few years, but most cars can last at least 8-12 years. But, most cars look best when they are new, and they don’t look as good after a few years. And, they start to have problems that can cost a lot of money to fix. Like a car, all breast implants will eventually break, and even before that breast implants are likely to cause complications that require additional surgery. The most common complication is capsular contracture, which causes the breasts to get firm, then hard, and can be very painful (see photo to the right).
Here is a photo of a woman whose silicone gel implants leaked into her breasts. By the time she had enough money to have them surgically removed, her breasts were so full of silicone that they also had to be removed.