Careful attention to detail often allows breasts to return to a beautiful and natural shape following explantation without the need for new implants or the additional scarring of breast lift surgery.
There are times when breast implants should be removed. There is no question that the technology of implants and the techniques of augmentation have improved over time, but breast implants are rarely forever. Perhaps they are causing a problem such as capsular contracture, or have ruptured or deflated. Or maybe you just no longer want them. What suited your body and lifestyle when you chose to have breast augmentation done may have changed over time, and the breast implants may no longer be what you want. Whatever the reason, implants can be removed safely, and often with no additional scars.
The thought of having your implants removed may be overwhelming. Many women are concerned that their breasts will look unattractive without the implants. Often there are fears that the stretched out skin will mean that a breast lift is needed, creating more scars on the breast. There may also be worries that the only way to maintain attractive breasts is to get rid of the old implants, only to need to replace them with new ones, even when what is really desired is to be implant free.
Although implant removal may be accompanied by a breast lift or mastopexy, Dr. Elizabeth Lee specializes in breast implant removal without the need for additional procedures.
- 1 Reasons for Breast Implant Removal
- 2 Surgical options
- 3 Preparation
- 4 Surgery
- 5 Recovery
- 6 FAQs
- 6.1 Do breast implants have to be exchanged when they reach a certain age?
- 6.2 How will I know when it’s time to have my implants removed?
- 6.3 What are the side effects of breast implant removal?
- 6.4 How much does breast implant removal cost?
- 6.5 Are you required to go back to the same physician that performed your first augmentation for removal?
- 6.6 How soon after surgery can I travel?
- 7 Before & After Photos
Reasons for Breast Implant Removal
Women may seek out breast implant removal for a variety of reasons. Some of these include:
Breast implant rupture
Saline and silicone implants are mechanical devices, and as such, they can fail. Implant rupture, while rare, can occur and is more common as the implants age. Sometimes, ruptures have no symptoms and may be detected with proper breast evaluations. It is important to have your scheduled physical examinations, and screening mammograms or ultrasounds and MRIs when indicated. Should you notice any change in your breasts, such as firmness, lumps or bumps, changes in size, or any discomfort, make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.
As the body heals around a new breast implant, a scar is formed that surrounds the implant, sort of like a biological saran wrap covering. This is a normal process of healing. Sometimes, this healing becomes overly aggressive and a thickened scar capsule can form. This thick scar is referred to as capsular contracture. While capsular contracture is not health threatening, it can cause discomfort in the breast, firmness and changes in the way the breast looks.
Breasts and bodies change over time. Implant position can shift as breasts age, natural breasts can get larger as we get older, nipple position changes too. These shifts can lead to changes in the appearance of the augmented breasts. Implants may start to feel too big, or move to an unattractive position, causing the breasts to develop an unnatural shape and appearance.
Sometimes, the surgery heals exactly as planned and the outcome is just what you thought you wanted prior to the procedure, but even with the best made plans, women can experience second thoughts after undergoing breast augmentation. If you feel differently than you expected to after breast augmentation, removal of the implants may be indicated.
Dr. Lee specializes in removing implants by the easiest method possible. She takes great care to work with her patients to help them get back to their most comfortable selves.
The most simple of procedures involve straight forward removal of the implant, often through the same incision used to place the implants initially. This form of explantation often provides for attractive and natural looking results after only a few weeks of healing time.
Scar capsules may need to be removed in some instances, and are safe to leave behind in other circumstances. Soft, thin scar capsules will absorb on their own once the implant is removed. Thickened capsules often contain calcium deposits. Taking out these types of scars often helps with the overall healing.
With Implant Exchange Replacement
Some women want to explore the option of exchanging their old implants with new ones. This may be an opportunity to change size for a larger or smaller look.
As gravity works on all of us, things may droop. Breasts augmented with large implants may be particularly prone to developing stretched out skin and low lying nipples. A breast lift may be the best option to move tissues around to provide a perkier, youthful look.
During your consultation Dr. Lee will come to understand your concerns and your goals. After you have scheduled your surgery, you will see Dr. Lee again for a preoperative visit. This is when you will have an opportunity to ask remaining questions and to get all the information you need to prepare for your procedure.
Breast implant removal is usually performed under general anesthesia and as a come-and-go procedure. You will come into a fully accredited surgical facility and go home to your own bed that day, usually about an hour after surgery is completed.
The procedure is relatively quick, generally taking about an hour for explantation without removal of the capsule. Dr. Lee removes implants through the pre-existing incision whenever possible, minimizing the chance of additional scarring. Once the implants are out, Dr. Lee will determine the need for scar capsule removal. If you have chosen to have implant replacement or breast lift, this procedure will be performed next. Drains will be placed to remove excess fluid, and all incisions will be closed.
Most women state that their overall pain levels following breast implant removal surgery were minimal compared to their first augmentation.
You will need to wear a support bra to wear at all times until Dr. Lee tells you it’s safe to go braless or wear a different type of bra. Following the explant procedure, it is important to take care of yourself to ensure proper healing. Dr. Lee will give you specific post-operative instructions at your pre-operative visit. In general though, she will want you to take a week off of work to ensure that you really rest. She will help you plan for your return to work and return to your regular activities. Drains come out typically within several days after surgery.
Do breast implants have to be exchanged when they reach a certain age?
It is a misconception that all breast implants need to be removed after 10 years. This is not true, as some women with implants have had them and remained satisfied with no complications for 25 years, while some need to have them removed after 3 to 5 years.
How will I know when it’s time to have my implants removed?
If you feel pain or notice deformity or asymmetry with your breast implants, it may be a sign of rupture or complications. Pay attention to your body and seek medical attention if you think something is wrong.
What are the side effects of breast implant removal?
All types of surgery come with some element of risk. Some include: unpredicted adverse reactions to anesthesia, developing a blood clot, excessive bleeding and developing infection. It is important to be realistic and weigh the risks with the benefits if you choose to undergo breast implant removal.
How much does breast implant removal cost?
Prices can vary depending on individual needs as well as whether you opt for breast implant replacement or breast lift following implant removal. During your consultation with Dr. Lee, you will be given a quote particular to your procedure.
Are you required to go back to the same physician that performed your first augmentation for removal?
You are absolutely not required to return to the same physician that performed your breast augmentation when you choose to have the implants removed. Often patients have moved, physicians have retired, or you may just want to have another surgeon care for you. You should have no concerns about choosing another surgeon.
How soon after surgery can I travel?
Dr. Lee will recommend that you stay close to home for about 2 weeks after your surgery. Most post-surgical issues arise during that time, and she takes her responsibility for your care very seriously, so stick around! Discuss your travel plans, if any to ensure that you heal as safely and as well as possible.