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Breast Implant Removal: What Women Need to Know

While it may seem unconventional or backwards to what many people are doing, breast implant removal is actually more popular than you may think.  In fact, as much as breast augmentation and enlargement is increasing, so too is breast implant removal.

Sometimes, it is purely a case where a woman changes her mind and decides she no longer feels the need to have larger breasts; especially if it is at the cost of having a foreign object inside of her.  In other cases, it is because of this foreign object itself, whereby there is an implant malfunction. For example, some patients experience implant deflation, others report implant rupturing or wrinkling, and others still have to have the implants removed due to medical complications such as anaplastic large cell lymphoma or infection.

For some women, the reason for removal is because they are no longer satisfied with the look and feel of their implants.  With age, weight fluctuations, changing skin elasticity and pregnancy, the breasts can change as well, and the look may no longer be satisfactory.  

Finally, there is an increasing number of patients who are electing to have the procedure done because having the implants is no longer in line with their beliefs and values; such that they are seeking to live a more natural, chemical free life.  Having the breast implants in their body, does not conform with the trend towards minimizing exposure to toxins and using only natural products and treatments.

How the Procedure Works

Breast implant removal surgery is generally an out of pocket cost which varies widely by patient. The procedure takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of the surgery and the option the patient has chosen.

The simplest, quickest option is implant removal only, whereby the surgeon simply makes an incision, removes the implant and closes the breast tissue. In some cases, this option also requires the removal of the hardened capsules, especially if there has been capsular contracture occur.

Other patients elect to have implant removal and a breast lift, as sometimes the breast may look saggy or loose after implant removal cosmetic surgery.  In this case, the surgeon removes the implants, and then performs the breast lift during the same procedure, before closing up the incision site.

Important Considerations for Explant Surgery

Breast implant removal, formally known as explant surgery, is not always black and white however. It is becoming increasingly more popular, and a more and more accessible option for patients who choose to take this route. However, it is important for you to understand the risks, as well as several other important deciding factors when it comes to choosing whether or not to have your breast implants removed.

How do breasts look after explant surgery?

Firstly, know that initially the breasts will appear flatter, deflated and with a slightly caved in appearance.  This will improve over time, but some patients opt to have a breast lift if the breasts remain too loose after surgery. The outcome of breast implant removal surgery will largely depend on the size of the implants and the amount and condition of your breast tissue. The scar tissue surrounding the implant will also influence the final results.

Breast implant removal complications

The surgery is typically successful, but can lead to infection and bleeding, and may not be complete the first time if the individual was suffering from capsular contracture. The capsule is a membrane that the body forms around the implant, because it is a foreign object.  This capsule can thicken or constrict over time, leading to capsular contracture and often requiring implant removal. If the whole capsule isn’t removed during surgery, an additional procedure may be necessary.

Finally, scarring is usually minimal, but can occur, and the scar may change over the course of the year after the procedure.  And don’t worry, yes, if you change your mind, you can always have implants put in again.

If you think you would like to have your implants removed, click below to contact us and learn more!

Breast implant removal recovery

Plastic surgeons agree that the recovery after implant removal is smoother than the recovery after breast augmentation surgery. Patients are able to go back to work after 5-14 days, depending on the case and circumstances. It can take 2 to 3 weeks for breasts to regain their volume, unless you also underwent a breast lift surgery. Healing will continue for several weeks until the final results are visible; it may take up one year. The plastic surgeon will give you specific instructions tailored to your case on how to take care of yourself after surgery. Generally, you have to make sure not to expose the surgical incision to excessive force or motion during the time of recovery.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Implant Removal

Is a breast lift necessary after implant removal?

Breast lift or mastopexy is not necessary for every women who had their breast implants removed. The need of breast lift surgery after breast implant removal depends on the implant size and the elastic properties of your skin. When larger implants – that cause significant stretching of the skin – are removed, the skin might not retract sufficiently.

Can breast tissue grow back after implant removal?

Breasts will regain their volume approximately 3 weeks after the explant surgery. However, it may take up a year for the final results to be visible. Breasts might not regain their initial appearance they’ve had before the augmentation surgery; especially if the implants were inside for long period of time and the breast tissue is thin. The filling out sensation and softening of the breasts (sometimes referred to as “fluffing”) might occur 6-9 months after the cosmetic surgery.