Dr Merten is the owner of Pure Aesthetics and is a member of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Despite the incredibly high satisfaction rate of this procedure, breast implants are a medical device and will, at some future point in time require replacement of removal. Whether it’s for cosmetic or medical reasons, here are the four most common reasons a patient may want to have their breast implants removed.
I want to replace my breast implants with new ones.
Also known as an implant exchange, many women choose to undergo breast revision surgery to replace their original implants with new ones. If a patient wants to change their implants, this is often due to wanting a different size, shape, or type.
Since breast implants are not a lifetime device, women will eventually need to have theirs replaced in the event of a rupture or deflation. Most breast implants last approximately 15-20 years before needing to be replaced.
I no longer want breast implants.
Over time some patients decide they don’t want breast implants anymore, and they may choose to remove them without opting for a replacement. Not wanting breast implants typically results from patients no longer feeling they need breast implants to help how they look.
When performing an explant procedure, additional cosmetic work may also be desired to address issues with the lax tissue that will be left. To combat this, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon can perform a breast lift, or the ever increasingly popular procedure of fat transfer.
I want to address a complication that has occurred.
Complications that may occur with a patient’s breast implants are issues such as capsular contracture, a rupture or leakage. If this happens, then the implants may need to be removed or replaced.
Along with removing the breast implants, in some cases, it may also be required to remove the capsule around it (called a capsulectomy). If a capsulectomy is needed, a technique called an en-bloc may be preferred, which involves removing the entire surrounding capsule with the breast implant still inside.
I have concerns about developing an implant-related health condition, like BIA-ALCL.
Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare form of lymphoma. It is not breast cancer. Instead, it can develop in the capsule around textured implants.
BIA-ALCL has a high cure rate and requires removal of both the implant and its surrounding capsule.
Due to evolving research, and a link to BIA-ALCL, the breast implant manufacturer Allergan® has recalled their macro-textured breast implants.
Since the risk of developing BIA-ALCL is so low, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) does not recommend removing the implants and expanders if no symptoms are present. Instead, the TGA encourages women with breast implants to be aware of changes, such as swelling or a lump in their breast or armpit as this can indicate the possibility of BIA-ALCL or other issues.
Choosing to have your breast implants removed is a very personal decision. It’s a decision best discussed with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who can guide you on your journey. A Specialist Plastic Surgeon can also organise a full clinical examination if deemed necessary to assess any signs of possible complications.