Breast Augmentation is a popular procedure to improve the shape, size and appearance of the breasts with the use of surgical implants. Breast augmentation has a high satisfaction rating, but there are times where patients either want to, or need to, remove their implants and breast implant removal, or explantation, is necessary.
Why Do Patients Get Their Breast Implants Removed?
In the past, it was common practice to replace implants every ten years due to things like shell wear, rupture, or saline implant leaking. With advancements in the quality of implants, this is no longer common practice. Breast augmentation is now a one-and-done treatment, as long as no issues arise with your implants. That being said, patients who have older generation breast implants will still need to get their implants replaced. This is especially true for patients with “textured” implants due to a rare lymphoma (Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or ALCL) associated with them.
What to expect during the surgery
The procedure can be done awake under local anesthesia, or asleep under general anesthesia. After anesthesia is administered, incisions are made. The doctor will then remove the implants and any necessary scar tissue. If the patient is removing their implants due to silicone implant leakage, then the silicone is cleaned up at this time. A drain may be placed. Finally, stitches are used to close the incision.
Implant removal risks include:
- Loose skin
While recovery is different for each patient, it’s important to follow the specific care instructions provided by your doctor. Strenuous activity and heavy lifting must be limited during the first 6 weeks. Many patients will experience soreness or tenderness during this time. It is important that you don’t sleep on your stomach or side while you are recovering to ensure proper healing. A surgical garment or support bra is needed during the 6 week recovery window to minimize fluid formation following your surgery. Typically, patients are able to return to daily activities 2-3 days after their surgery.
The size of your breasts and implants prior to their removal will ultimately determine what your breast will look like after your explant procedure. The smaller the implant, the less drooping or sagging you may experience. Larger implants stretch the skin and cause more tissue atrophy, which can cause more prominent sagging.
To help tighten skin and achieve the breast size and shape they are after, patients often combine their procedure with a breast lift or implant exchange.