Breast augmentation is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the world, with millions of women enjoying a more beautiful bustline thanks to the latest and safest FDA-approved implants.
Implant removal is technically called “explantation” and is done for several reasons. The most common reasons are a desire for a different size or shape; an implant has ruptured or is leaking; or capsular contracture. Capsular contracture occurs when scar tissue tightens around the implant, resulting in pain and distortion of the implant. Other reasons for removal include shifting of the implant, wrinkling or sagging, asymmetry, or diseases of the breast itself. Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgery show that, in most years, the percentage of breast explantation is about 10% of breast augmentation procedures.
If you are experiencing capsular contracture, are unhappy with the look of your breast implants, if they have been in place for more than 8 years, or if you wish to switch to silicone from saline, and you are otherwise healthy, you are likely to be a good candidate for explantation, with or without breast reshaping or implant replacement.
How Breast Implant Removal is Performed
Depending upon your reason for implant removal, and whether it is combined with other interventions, the procedure may last up to a few hours. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and you will go home the same day. The incision is generally made under the breast, in the fold, or through an incision around the areola. The implants are carefully removed and the incision is closed, assuming you are not replacing the implants. If you are replacing the implant, this will be done immediately after the older implants are removed, in the same procedure.
Recovery from Breast Implant Removal
The recovery time is usually fairly rapid if no implants are replaced. We find that most patients are back to their routines within a few days and are at full activity in two or three weeks, with full recovery likely to take a few months. You will initially feel some mild discomfort, as well as some swelling and bruising. It is uncommon, but some women experience loss of nipple sensation, as well as scarring, and loose skin if another implant is not inserted. Sagging is also likely to occur after breast implant removal if you haven’t replaced the implant.
If you elected to replace the implants during your procedure, you will need to wear a special bra 24 hours a day, until you are completely healed. This can take approximately 3-6 weeks. You will find that you’ll feel back to normal in about a week and should be fully healed in about 8 weeks. Although you will see results immediately, keep in mind that some swelling will make your breasts appear slightly larger than they will be after things settle down a bit, which takes about 90 days or so.
After your surgery, Dr. Galante will instruct you to avoid raising your arms over your head or doing any exercise that uses your chest muscles, as well as avoiding heavy lifting for about 6-8 weeks.
You should keep in mind that breast implants are not permanent. If you receive silicone breast implants, we recommend an MRI about every two years, beginning several years after they are placed, as any damage to a silicone implant will not be evident to you. We suggest that you visit us at our greater Munster, IN, offices in Schererville or Valparaiso every 3-4 years after implant surgery, so we can confirm that your implants are still functioning as they should.
To Your Health & Beauty,
Gus Galante, MD, FACS
Board Certified NW Indiana Plastic Surgeon