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Overview

Breast implant removal (also known as explant surgery) is a surgical procedure performed to remove breast implants that have been placed during previous breast reconstruction or augmentation surgery. This procedure enables the removal of saline or silicone breast implants. Some patients may also undergo breast implant removal as a result of implant-related complications. In some cases, people decide to remove implants because the scar tissue surrounding the implants has stiffened, resulting in capsular contracture. Breast implants are not permanent. Breast implants should be removed or replaced every 10 to 15 years. However, if you have not had any complications, then your plastic surgeon may recommend that you don’t remove your implants. People should have an MRI scan five to six years after implant surgery, and then every two to three years after that, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If a rupture is noticed, your surgeon will have to perform a breast implant removal procedure to remove or replace the implant. Your surgeon may also remove scar tissue that formed as a result of the initial implants. When the scar tissue hardens, it can become painful or uncomfortable. However, if the scar tissue softens, then the surgeon may not need to remove it. Changes in breast shape following a breast augmentation procedure can also make patients opt for a breast implant removal procedure. Age, pregnancy, and weight changes are all factors that can affect how the breasts look. If you need to undergo a breast implant removal procedure, you should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Karan Chopra to get the best advice on your implant removal procedure and discover a treatment plan that is ideal for your specific needs.

Benefits

  • Treatment of capsular contracture: A capsular contracture can alter the breast’s symmetry, shape, and feel, as well as cause intense pain and discomfort. There are numerous causes of capsular contracture. It may occur due to inflammation surrounding implant pockets that may be brought on by injury or infection. There may not always be a clear reason for developing capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is treated by eliminating the scar tissue surrounding the implant during breast implant removal. This lessens implant-related symptoms like intense tightness and discomfort. The results leave the breasts feeling and appearing more natural without being painful or hard.
  • Pain reduction: Patients with capsular contracture may experience pain. Patients who chose large implants may also have neck and back pain due to the weight of the implants. Breast implant removal can help ease the pain felt in the back. The long-term posture improvement from having your breast implants removed will also make you feel better.
  • Enables patients to change the size of their implants: If you don’t like the size of your breasts, you can adjust it by removing your implants. You have the option of removing your implants and getting new ones or removing your implants to go back to your natural breast size. You can select a breast implant that is larger or smaller, or you can maintain the current size while switching to a newer model or shape.
  • Short recovery period: The recovery period after a breast implant removal procedure is usually about two weeks.

"Am I the right candidate?"

You will be considered for a breast implant removal if you:

  • Are at a stable weight and are physically healthy;
  • Are uncomfortable with the appearance of your implants;
  • Have reasonable expectations for the procedure;
  • Are a non-smoker;
  • Have experienced pain or discomfort;
  • Have experienced an implant leak or rupture;
  • Feel your breasts are too heavy;
  • Notice your breast scar tissue is getting tighter or harder.

Procedure​

Breast implant removal is a procedure performed to remove breast implants. Your plastic surgeon may also remove silicone from implant leaks or scar tissue during the procedure. You can also request that your surgeon remove your old implants and place new ones. Or you may want no replacements after the old implants are removed. People may also require this procedure as a result of complications with their implants. In many cases, the scar tissue that develops following implant placement is normal and does not require removal, but it may also harden and cause pain and discomfort. Occasionally, the implant’s outer shell will break down, allowing the silicone to leak and harden the scar tissue that surrounds the implant. It is critical to understand that this is a reason why implants should be taken out.
 Capsular Contracture
This procedure may occasionally be required for medical reasons. Hardening of the scar tissue surrounding the implants is one of the most common reasons for breast implant removal. This hardening of scar tissue is referred to as capsular contracture. Capsular contracture can cause pain or changes in the appearance of the breasts.
Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
A breast implant removal may also be required because of Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a rare type of cancer that develops in the scar tissue surrounding an implant. This cancer is usually linked to textured implants. You should ask your plastic surgeon about this if you had textured implants inserted. Breast implants may also need to be taken out if a diagnosis of breast cancer is made. It is important to note that while breast implants do not raise the risk of developing breast cancer and do not prevent its diagnosis, they may need to be removed to properly treat the breast cancer.
Breast Implant Illness (BII)
More patients have reported experiencing a variety of vague symptoms that they believe are caused by their implants. Despite the lack of a direct connection, patients report symptoms such as weariness, cognitive decline, anxiety, lethargy, brain “fogginess,” skin outbreaks, and other problems. Despite the lack of a clear causal relationship having been shown, people with breast implant sickness generally experience alleviation from these unfavorable symptoms after having the breast implants removed.
Patient Preference
A change in the patient’s overall preference is frequently what prompts them to undergo a breast implant removal procedure. After having implants for a while, some patients may want to get back to their previous look while some may want a different implant size for aesthetic reasons. Breast implant removal is popular among older women who no longer want to have them replaced, as well as by women whose bodies have gone through natural changes that have affected the appearance of their breasts.

Process

Time
Compared to breast augmentation, the breast implant removal procedure is far simpler and requires much less recovery time. This procedure usually lasts for about one to two hours, depending on your specific procedure.
Cost
The cost of a breast implant removal may vary from patient to patient depending on various factors such as the type of correction, surgical fees, and anesthesia fees. A detailed quote will be provided during your consultation.
Process
The patient will receive medication during the procedure to keep them comfortable. General anesthesia is often preferred for the comfort of the patient. An incision will need to be made along the lower fold of your breast (the inframammary fold) or below the areola to remove a breast implant. A variety of methods are frequently used to remove breast implants and capsules. The incisions are closed with sutures, clips, skin adhesives, or tapes.

Recovery

After your operation to remove your breast implants, your breasts may be covered with bandages, gauze dressings, or drains. A support bra or compression garment may also be used to reduce post-surgery swelling. You may also require drains after your breast implant removal procedure. These drains are short tubes that are temporarily inserted under the skin inside the pocket to drain any blood or serous fluid that may accumulate. Your plastic surgeon will give you detailed post-surgery instructions on how to care for your surgical site, medications to take to lower the risk of infection and enhance healing, specific concerns to watch out for at your surgical site or in your general health, and when to visit your plastic surgeon for a follow-up visit to monitor your recovery process. Ensure that you ask your plastic surgeon detailed questions about what to anticipate throughout your recovery period. Healing after a breast implant removal will continue for a few weeks as the swelling goes down. It is important to continue to adhere to your plastic surgeon’s recommendations and show up to follow-up appointments as scheduled.

What are the Downsides of a Breast Implant Removal?

  • Sagging: Breast implants help to give the breasts a fuller, perkier appearance. Once the implants are removed, the breasts will return to their natural shape and will droop as they did before the implants were placed. They may even sag more noticeably than they did before.
  • Scarring: Although methods are being developed to reduce scarring as much as possible, it will always be present at the incision site. Based on how your body recovers, you may even see more scarring than before. The original incision from your breast augmentation procedure will always be used for the breast implant removal procedure. But the scar will be noticeable and take some time to fade.
  • Breast implant removal may lead to a loss of confidence.

What are the Risks and Possible Complications of a Breast Implant Removal?

The choice to have breast implants removed depends on a variety of criteria, including your general health condition, the state of your implants, and your personal preferences. You must decide if the complications of breast implant removal are tolerable and if the gains will help you reach your goals. The risks connected with surgery will be completely explained by your surgeon. To make sure you are aware of all the risks and potential consequences associated with the treatments you will undertake, you will be required to sign consent forms. Some of the possible complications of breast implant removal include: bleeding, anesthesia risks, accumulation of fluid (seroma), asymmetry, deep vein thrombosis, hematoma, persistent pain, scarring, skin loss and infection.

FAQs

Breast implant removal is less invasive than an actual breast augmentation surgery. There is very little pain after breast implant removal. You’ll probably be able to get back to your regular activities soon after your implant removal surgery.

Breast implant removal usually takes about one to three hours. The duration of your implant removal surgery will be determined by factors such as the presence of excess scar tissue or a leaking or ruptured implant. You may also need some hours after your procedure for the anesthetic to wear off.

 

Although breast implants are designed to be safe and long-lasting, they are not considered for lifetime use. Modern implants are typically made to endure more than ten years with the risk of rupture rising by 1% annually.

After breast implant removal, the volume of the breasts is drastically reduced. This may affect the appearance of the breasts and may make the breasts appear deflated. The skin may also appear wrinkled.

Once breast implants are removed, it is natural for the breasts to appear deflated. Your breasts will ultimately start to regain some volume in two to three weeks. A breast lift and fat transfer to the breast are excellent options for patients who would like to reposition or make their breasts appear fuller after explant surgery.

A compression bra should be worn nonstop for at least two weeks following the explant procedure.