Breast Implant Removal
When you made the decision to have breast augmentation surgery, you probably didn’t think about whether the breast implants would need to be removed. While many women remain satisfied with the results of their breast augmentation, some women may choose to have their implants removed. In other cases, you may need to have breast implant removal due to a medical problem.
What Is Breast Implant Removal Surgery?Breast implant removal surgery is a cosmetic procedure designed to reverse a breast augmentation by removing breast implants and revising the size and shape of the remaining breast tissue. Some of these procedures include removal of the implant and replacing it, repositioning the existing implant, or removing the breast implant without replacing it.
Common Reasons to Remove Breast Implants
There are a variety of reasons women may make the decision to remove their implants. They may feel their breasts are the wrong shape and size. Implants can also change position over time and cause the breasts to look misshapen or uneven. This often occurs if the implants are older or if the body has gone through changes such as significant weight loss, weight gain, or pregnancy.
Other women have the fear that their breast implants may cause them future health conditions such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. There has been no research that provides conclusive evidence that implants cause breast cancer. However, there is some indication the presence of implants may interfere with breast cancer detection. Some fear that their implants will rupture during a mammogram and for this reason, they may forego mammograms. In addition, some breast tumors can be hidden by breast implants if the professional performing the mammogram is not knowledgeable about how to properly screen for cancer with implants.
Complications from the original augmentation are rare, but in some cases removal surgery may be necessary. Some reasons include a build-up of calcium, infection, bleeding, necrosis, or the development of dead tissue around the implant. Capsular contracture, which is a response of the immune system to foreign materials in the body, can cause a tightening of the scar tissue from breast augmentation surgery. It is less common with certain types of silicone implants, but when it does occur, surgery is often necessary to reduce pain and restore the appearance of the breast. Other reasons to seek removal include implant complications such as rupture, displacement, infection, leakage of silicone, folding of the implants, or deflation. While these complications are extremely rare, it is important to check with your doctor if you feel any pain or unusual sensations with your implants.
At Hess and Sandeen our highly-trained, board-certified plastic surgeons take your health very seriously and use only the highest-quality implants in our procedures. If you are concerned about the quality of the implants used in a previous breast augmentation, we can discuss your options for removing and replacing your old implants. You may also need to replace your implants if you have had them for over ten years. Our plastic surgeons will help you determine if replacement is necessary in these circumstances.
The Process of Breast Implant Removal
Breast implant removal surgery is performed under general anesthesia and generally takes 1-3 hours.
While every surgery is different, it is usually performed in one of four ways:
Breast Implant Removal OnlyThis cosmetic surgery will be performed using the same incision sites as the original breast implant surgery. Our surgeons will remove the implant and any scar tissue that formed around it. Patients suffering from capsular contracture will have the hardened capsules of tissue removed to help accelerate the healing process. In this type of procedure, we make no additional changes to your breasts besides removing the implants.
Breast Implant Removal With a Breast LiftIf your breast skin has stretched or sagged as a result of your breast augmentation, your plastic surgeon may perform a breast lift at the same time as your implant removal. This surgery will remove any excess skin and will tighten your breast tissue. In some cases, your surgeon may also resize your areolas to better fit your new breast shape.
Needle Implant DeflationIf you have saline implants, your doctor may choose to deflate with a needle, leaving the shell in place. Because you are not undergoing full surgery, this is often done under local anesthesia. Removing the saline enables you to see what your breasts look like without implants. Depending on the results, you may choose to have further surgery such as a breast lift or breast implant replacement surgery.
Breast Implant RevisionIf you like your implants, but still want to improve your look and update your implant material, then you would want breast implant revision surgery. This surgery replaces old implants with new ones. This is often performed along with a breast lift or reduction.
Recovery After Breast Implant Removal Surgery
As with any type of surgical procedure, recovery from implant removal will vary from person to person. Most plastic surgeons agree that recovery is usually easier than it was for the initial breast augmentation. Your breasts may feel tight and heavy for a few weeks and you will need to avoid heavy lifting. You will be discharged with clear instructions from your doctor. Make sure you follow these recommendations carefully. Depending on the type of surgery and your reaction to the procedure, you may be able to go home the same day.
During your recovery, it is normal to feel discomfort and soreness. Most women are able to return to work within 5-7 days. However, more invasive procedures, such as surgery to correct capsular contracture, may bring more discomfort. In these cases, the healing time is often longer. Your doctor will advise you how much time you will need to take off from your daily activities.
Once the implants are gone, if you have not had a breast lift along with the removal, your breasts will initially look deflated and it can take 2-3 weeks for them to regain their volume. Scars from this plastic surgery typically heal well. The scars will heal in stages and this usually takes 3-4 months. While they will never disappear completely, they do fade and become less noticeable.
Risks of Implant Removal
When you choose an experienced plastic surgeon, the complications and risks for breast implant removal are minimized. Every surgical procedure involves some degree of risk. It is important to know what side effects can occur, like changes in breast sensation, development of thick scar tissue that could last for a few years, numbness of the breast area, and breast deformity or sagging. Your plastic surgeon will discuss all applicable risks with you in order to prepare you for your surgery. At your appointment, you should bring up any questions and concerns you may have.