Breast augmentation is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the US. It seeks to improve the size and shape of breasts using implants. However, these implants are not meant to last a lifetime. Therefore, if you have breast implants, there will come a time you will need to remove them or get them replaced.
But what does breast implant removal involve, and what can you expect from the procedure?
Here is everything you need to know about breast implant removal surgery.
What Is Breast Implant Removal Surgery?
Breast implant removal, also called as breast implant explant, is a surgical procedure that is performed to permanently remove or replace breast implants in patients who have undergone breast augmentation. Whether you want to get your implants replaced due to some complications or you simply do not wish to keep your implants for whatever reason, a qualified plastic surgeon can help you remove them safely.
When to Seek Breast Implant Removal
In some cases, patients choose to get their breast implants removed simply because they no longer want to keep them. You may also choose to replace your breast implants if they are over a decade old (since implants are estimated to last 10 to 15 years). However, even if your breasts implants are less than 10 years old, you may be forced to get them removed for reasons such as:
- Breast implants leaks
- Calcium buildup around the implants
- Necrosis around the implants
- Shifting breast implants
- An autoimmune response caused by the implants
- Breast pain or discomfort caused by implants
Some people also choose to remove breast implants due to changes in breast size and shape, affecting how the implants appear. These changes can be caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, age, and weight gain/loss.
How Breast Implant Removal is Performed?
Breast implant removal is usually performed in surgery centers or hospitals. It is done under general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. The surgeon or anesthesiologist will advise you on the best anesthesia for you. Once the anesthesia medication has been administered, the surgeon will make the necessary incisions and remove the breast implants and capsules using a combination of techniques. If you want new implants, the surgeon will place them accordingly. Lastly, the incisions will be closed using sutures or skin adhesives.
Recovery from Breast Implant Removal
After the procedure, your breasts will obviously look swollen and bruised. With time, the bruises and swelling will subside. For the first two weeks, you will be advised to avoid some activities, such as driving. Throughout breast implant removal recovery time, you may be required to avoid strenuous physical activities, such as weightlifting. Since each case is different, your surgeon will advise you on when you can resume which physical activity.
Risks of Breast Implant Removal
Breast implant explant surgery, like any other surgical procedure, comes with some risks. Some of the risks associated with breast implant removal surgery include:
- Blood clots
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Excessive Bleeding
- Persistent pain
- Unfavorable scarring
- Numbness or loss of skin sensation
- Skin discoloration
- Suboptimal aesthetic results
Therefore, before you can sign the consent to get your implants removed, it is important to discuss these risks with your surgeon. Unless your implants are causing serious aesthetic or medical problems, you may be advised not to get them removed even if they are over ten years old.
Breast Implant Removal FAQs
Am I a good candidate for breast implant removal?
In addition to having aesthetic or medical reasons to get breast implants removed, the ideal candidate for the procedure should:
- Be in good physical health
- Have a stable weight
- Be a non-smoker or willing to quit smoking
You may need to undergo some medical tests and breast imaging to determine if you really need a breast implant removal.
Will the procedure cause any pain?
Breast implant removal surgery is usually done under IV sedation or general anesthesia. Therefore, you will not experience any pain during the procedure. However, during the recovery period, you may experience some painful moments. However, the pain will subside with time. Besides, your plastic surgeon will provide you with the necessary medication to not only prevent surgical site infection but also manage pain.
Will breast implant removal cause scarring?
Like any other surgical procedure, breast implant removal might cause scarring. However, your surgeon will make the incisions in such a way that the scars are concealed by the natural structure of your breasts. Therefore, this is not an issue that should bother you too much.
What Is the downtime for breast implant removal?
After the procedure, you will need about a week before you can go back to office work. However, you may have to wait for a couple of weeks before you can carry out more challenging tasks, such as driving. More strenuous activities, such as lifting weights or running, will have to wait for about six weeks or more.