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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 procedures (explant surgery) are actually more popular than you may think.  In fact, as much as breast augmentation and enlargement is increasing, so too the removal of old implants.

Reasons of Getting an Explant Surgery

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 silicone or saline 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.  They might also want to replace traditional implant to a new type of implant, such as a “gummy bear implant“. 

Finally, there is an increasing number of patients who are electing to have the procedure done because having the silicone or saline 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.

The procedure of Breast Implant Removal

Breast Implant Removal Cost in Ontario

Breast implant removal surgery is generally an out of pocket cost which varies widely by patient. Contact us to get an estimate.

Surgery Time

The procedure takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of the surgery and the option the patient has chosen.

Explant Surgery With or Without Breast Lift

The simplest, quickest option is implant removal only. The surgeon simply makes an incision, removes the breast 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 with 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 mastopexy to remove excess skin 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. Removing the once desired implants is becoming an increasingly popular and 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 remove your breast implants.

How do breasts look after explant surgery?

Firstly, know that “fluffing” after explant surgery is normal. 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.

To mitigate the risk of being left flat after breast implant removal, some women choose to undergo additional procedures such as a breast lift or fat transfer to restore volume and shape to their breasts.

Related: Recovery Timeline for Breast Lift 

Another factor causing flat breasts after implant removal is the extraction of breast tissue along with the implant. This procedure, known as a capsulectomy, is typically performed in cases of implant rupture or complications such as capsular contracture.

Risks & complications 

Breast implant removal, like any surgical procedure, can have potential side effects. It’s important to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon who can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation. The explant 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.

Some common side effects that may occur after breast implant removal include pain, swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the chest area. Additionally, there may be changes in breast shape and size, as the removal of implants can lead to deflation or sagging of the breasts. In some cases, there may be scarring or changes in nipple sensation. It’s crucial to follow post-operative care instructions and attend follow-up appointments to monitor the healing process and address any concerns. Discussing potential side effects and risks with your cosmetic surgeon beforehand can help you make an informed decision about the removal of your saline or silicone breast implants.

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.

Recovery after breast implant removal surgery

Plastic surgeons agree that the recovery after saline or silicon implant removal is smoother than the recovery after breast augmentation. 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.

It is usually recommended that you sleep on your back for the first few weeks to help promote healing and prevent complications. The specific length of time that you should sleep on your back can vary depending on several factors, including the extent of your surgery and your surgeon’s recommendations. In general, most surgeons will recommend that you sleep on your back for at least the first week or two after explant surgery. This is to help minimize pressure on the surgical site and reduce the risk of bleeding or swelling.

Breast Implant Removal in Ontario: Plastic Surgery Clinic Location and Consultation

The decision to remove your breast implants should be carefully considered in consultation with a qualified cosmetic surgeon who can provide personalized recommendations based on your unique circumstances and goals.

If you think you would like to have your silicone implants or saline implants removed, schedule an in-depth consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Dickie in Barrie, Ontario.

The state-of-the-art private facility of the Royal Centre of Plastic Surgery is located in Barrie, Ontario, 40 minutes north of Toronto.

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. 

Will the skin retract after an explant? And how long does it take?

The amount of skin retraction that occurs after breast implant removal can vary depending on the size and type of the implant, the amount of time the implants were in place, and the amount of breast tissue present. Skin retraction can take anywhere from weeks to months. In some cases, the skin may retract in relatively short time after the explant surgery, especially if the breasts still have a significant amount of natural breast tissue remaining. The remaining tissue can help the skin to contract and reshape, providing some degree of natural volume and contour to the breast.