What is the Surgical Process for Breast Implant Removal?

Woman Breast
Photo by Gabriel Sanchez

Breast implant removal is a procedure used to reverse breast augmentation to either remove or replace breast implants. It can also include the removal of extra fat, tissue and skin from the breast region. Many individuals who undergo breast implant removal are satisfied with the results.

The most common cause for implant removal is the development of capsular contractures which is your body’s natural immune response to the foreign implant. Other motivations to remove implants include leakages or ruptures, calcium deposits, breast cancers, or for other personal lifestyle reasons.

Whether it’s to improve health, eliminate any pain or discomfort, or boost-self confidence, choosing to undergo breast implant removal is a serious decision. Because of this, you should be well-informed about the benefits, potential risks, and recovery process that’s involved. 

Breast Implant Removal Preparation

Much like breast augmentation surgery, pre-operative breast implant removal planning should be accomplished to improve your outcomes. The best way to do so is to carefully examine the pros and cons of breast implant removal.

Benefits of Breast Implant Removal

The benefits of breast implant removal vary from person to person. Benefits are based on a patient’s reason for implant removal, medical history, health background, and other unique circumstances. 

  • Reduced stress of implant-related maintenance: implants require regular monitoring for possible leakage or ruptures. FDA recommends that those who have silicone implants should have regular MRI screenings every 2 years (starting 3 years after breast augmentation surgery). 
  • Reduced emotional stress: there is added fear in living with an implant that could rupture on any given day. Ruptures can induce health-related problems that require immediate medical attention. Along with the health implications, this can become an unforeseen financial burden to you as well. 
  • Safer mammogram screenings: without breast implants, screening for breast cancer can be accomplished with ease. This is especially helpful for those with a family history of breast cancer requiring screening every year. Mammograms have an added risk for capsular contractures, ruptures, and pain during compression and imaging for those with implants.
  • Relief from pain or discomfort: patients who have removed larger implants will have relief in their shoulders, back, and neck pain. Plus, you can sleep or lay comfortably on your stomach without any worries. 

Risks of Breast Implant Removal 

  • Surgical risks: like any cosmetic surgery, there are risks involved with breast implant removal procedures. Some of the most common risks include complications from anesthesia, infection, swelling, scarring, hematoma, or necrosis. 
  • Cost of surgery: unless your implant removal is due to health problems that are covered by insurance, you’ll likely pay out of pocket. The cost of surgery can be anywhere between £3,000 to £4,000 depending on the surgeon and procedure specifics. 
  • Cosmetic appearance: for most people, this is a common downside to undergoing breast implant removal. After your surgery, you will notice decreased fullness, loose or sagging skin, uneven breast shape, and loss of elasticity. In some cases, patients will choose to have a breast lift done to help combat this.
  • Possible loss of sensation: If your original breast augmentation surgery used the areolar incision, you may have already experienced loss of sensation in the nipples. Your removal surgery will use the same incision site which can contribute to even more loss of sensation.

Consult with your Doctor

Next, patient’s are advised to select a trusted board-certified plastic surgeon. Your consultation will provide you with further insight into the procedure options (either to remove or replace the implants) as well as the logistics of the surgery itself. It will also include a review of your history as well as a physical examination. 

The best candidates for surgery include those who are in good physical health (including being a healthy, stable weight), non-smokers and those with realistic expectations about their surgical outcomes.

Breast Implant Removal Process

To begin, the patient will receive local or general anesthesia, depending on the surgery requirements. Once sedated, the surgeon will perform 1 of 3 techniques: 

  1. If you’re undergoing breast implant removal only, your surgeon will make an incision in the same place that the original breast implant surgery was performed. In the case of an implant rupture, the surgeon will remove the breast tissue, capsule, and any other areas that implant leakage has spread. 
  2. If you’re undergoing breast implant removal with a breast lift, your surgeon will remove any excess skin that was previously stretched or sagged from the implant. This procedure may also include the resizing of your areolas to better suit the new breasts’ shape.
  3. In the case that you have saline breast implants, you will require a breast implant deflation. This process is less invasive, requiring only local anesthesia.

It’s important to note, patients who are not receiving new implants or revisions might need time to adjust to the new shape of their breasts. There may be noticeable irregularities — specifically in the case that excessive scar tissue needed to be removed during surgery.

Depending on your recovery, you may either be able to go home the same day or be required to spend the night in the hospital/clinic. 

Breast Implant Removal Aftercare

Similar to the original breast augmentation surgery, implant removal takes about the same timeframe to fully recover.

After a breast implant removal procedure, your doctor will provide you with aftercare instructions. This will include instructions on how to clean and maintain the incision site, directions on bandaging and/or compression garment wear, post-operative medication dosages and/or topical applications, and more. 

For best results, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and return to all scheduled follow-ups appointments. For more information, please visit https://mybreast.org/breast-implant-removal-replacement/