Dr Jeremy Hunt, Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons Member and Plastic Surgeon explains what happens if you need to have your breast implants removed.
When you decided to have breast augmentation surgery you probably didn’t think about whether the breast implants would need to be removed.
However, many women who have breast implants may later make the decision to have them removed. The reasons for doing so can include having a breast cancer diagnosis, lifestyle changes or experiencing complications including capsular contraction.
What is breast implant removal?
It simply removes the breast implants or revises the shape and size of them.
Many women who have had breast implant surgery will ultimately need another breast implant revision procedure. These procedures include:
- Removing the implants and replacing them with new implants,
- Repositioning the existing implants, or
- Removing the breast implants without replacement.
If you have had complications with your breast implants (including infection or capsular contracture) your Plastic Surgeon may recommend that the breast implants are removed.
Other reasons breast implants need to be removed include:
- A build-up of calcium,
- Infection and/or bleeding, or
- Necrosis or the development of dead tissues around the breast implant.
Who is breast implant removal surgery for?
Some of the more common reasons women choose to have their breast implants removed include:
- Implant complications: Breast implant complications include implant rupture, folding or deflation (if the breast implant is filled with saline).
- Personal choice: Some women may feel their breast implants are the wrong shape or size. Over time they may have moved into the wrong position because of weight loss, weight gain or pregnancies.
- Other complications: Capsular contracture, tension bands asymmetry, displacement, infection and leakage of silicone.
What happens during breast implant removal surgery?
Breast implant removal surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and usually takes between one to three hours. Depending on your recovery, you may be able to go home on the same day of the surgery.
The three most common breast implant removal surgery techniques include:
- Breast implant removal only
Incisions will be made in the same place as where the breast implant surgery was performed. If you are suffering from capsular contracture, they will remove the hardened capsules to accelerate the healing process.
- Breast implant removal with a breast lift
Your Plastic Surgeon may perform a breast lift at the same time as your breast implant removal if your breast skin has been stretched or sagged. They will remove any excess breast skin and tighten your breast tissue to provide better support. In some cases, your Plastic Surgeon may also re-size your areolas to better fit your breasts new shape.
If your breast implants are saline, your Plastic Surgeon may choose to deflate them without undergoing surgery and can occur in their office under local anaesthesia. Depending on the results of this you may need to have further surgery including a breast lift or breast implant replacement surgery.
What is recovery like after breast implant removal surgery?
Whilst recovery from breast implant surgery varies from person to person, most Plastic Surgeons agree that recovery after this surgery is usually smoother than the initial breast implant surgery. However, if you’ve had a breast lift after the breast implants have been removed, your breasts will feel tight and heavy for a few weeks.
Most women are able to return to work in five days and report experiencing minimal discomfort after the surgery. If you’ve had the breast implants removed due to capsular contracture, there will be more discomfort and the recovery time will be longer.
Breast implant removal scars typically heal very well and are often inconspicuous. It’s important to note they heal in stages with the process taking three to four months. While the scars will fade, they will never disappear entirely.
You will need to avoid lifting anything over five kilograms or exercising excessively for the first six weeks after your surgery. While you will usually be able to resume normal activity after six weeks, your breasts will take several months to settle into their new position.
It is very important to follow the instructions your Plastic Surgeon gives you including:
- Avoiding certain activities
- Wearing compression garments, and
- Taking pain medication as prescribed.
Are there risks or complications with breast implant removal surgery?
Every cosmetic surgery procedure can bring complications of anaesthesia, which your Anaesthetist will outline.
General complications of every surgery include:
- A blood clot in your leg (deep-vein thrombosis – DVT). This can cause pain, swelling or redness in your leg, or the veins near the surface of your leg to appear larger than normal. Your healthcare team will assess your risk. They will encourage you to get out of bed soon after the operation and may give you injections, medication, or special stockings to wear. Let the healthcare team know straightaway if you think you might have a DVT.
- A blood clot in your lung (pulmonary embolus). If a blood clot moves through your bloodstream to your lungs. If you become short of breath, feel pain in your chest or upper back, or if you cough up blood, let the healthcare team know straightaway. If you are at home, call an ambulance or go immediately to your nearest Emergency Department.
What are the specific risks and complications of breast implant removal surgery?
When a highly trained and experienced Plastic Surgeon performs breast implant removal surgery, the complications and risks will be minimal. It is important to note that risks and complications can include:
- Breast sensation becoming less sensitive which may last up to six months.
- Development of thick, red, and painful scars which may last for a few years.
- Numbness of the breast area.
- Breast deformity or sagging of the breast area.
Essential things to know about breast implant removal surgery
- It is usual to experience discomfort and soreness after the breast implant removal procedure. Your Plastic Surgeon will advise how much time you will need to take off work and your daily activities. Generally, patients report that breast implant removal is more comfortable than the breast augmentation surgery.
- Breast implant removal surgery can address a variety of concerns, capsular contracture, implant malfunction, and dissatisfaction with breast size. If a woman chooses not to replace the breast implants, a breast lift may be required to address the skin that has been stretched.
- Breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime. Future surgeries will probably be required to replace or remove one or both implants through a revision procedure.
- In some cases, a breast implant removal procedure can be more complicated than a breast implant replacement. In some cases, breast implant removal is more prone to infection and bleeding.
What results can you expect from breast implant removal surgery?
Once you’ve had the breast implants removed, your breasts will initially look deflated. It can take two to three weeks for the breasts to regain their volume. If you’ve had a breast lift after the breast implants have been removed, your breasts will not have a ‘caved in’ appearance. It is important to note that while your scars will heal and fade over time, they will never fully disappear.
Following your breast implant removal surgery, your breasts will not look the same as before you had the original breast implant surgery. This result is because the weight of the breast implants stretches the tissue and causes changes in the rib area.
How to find the best Plastic Surgeons to perform your breast implant removal?
By using our Member’s Directory you can find the best Plastic Surgeons from Australia and New Zealand to perform your procedure.
Content supplied courtesy of cosmeticjourney.com.au