Breast implants are designed to provide long-lasting and beautiful results. However, they are not meant to last forever. Over time, a woman’s implants can become deflated or misshapen due to wear and tear. Sometimes a patient’s style preferences may have changed, and they want to replace or remove their implants entirely.
Patients who feel as though their implants have hardened may be experiencing a condition known as capsular contracture. Capsular contracture occurs when the scar tissue surrounding the implant hardens or thickens and starts to tighten around the implant. Some or all of the scar tissue must be removed during breast implant removal.
Breast implants can shift in the breast pocket, becoming too high, too low, or falling toward the armpit or center of the chest. Implant displacement causes an unflattering appearance and requires secondary surgery. Breast implant removal can eliminate the abnormal appearance of malpositioned implants.
A faulty or damaged breast implant can rupture, causing its contents to leak out of the breast pocket and into the body. Breast implant removal can remove saline or silicone implants and any contents that have leaked into the surrounding tissue. Sterile saline is absorbed by the body and does not need removal.
Patients who are unhappy with their breast aesthetics after breast augmentation may choose to undergo breast implant removal with a breast implant revision. Here, patients can adjust the size, shape, placement, and filling materials of their implants to fit their cosmetic goals.
Patients will be given general anesthesia before implant removal surgery to ensure comfort.
Implant removal requires an incision to be made along the breast crease or around the areola—if possible, the original breast augmentation incision will be used to minimize additional scarring. The implant is then removed from the breast pocket.
In cases of capsular contracture, some or all of the scar tissue around the implant will be removed. With silicone ruptures, any loose silicone will be removed from the body—as long as it is safe.
Following the removal of the implant, the breast pocket will be tightened, or a new implant will be placed in the pocket.
Breast revision surgery can improve the appearance of the breast and more accurately achieve the patient’s aesthetic goals. Breast implant revision can replace the damaged or unwanted implants with ones of a different size or shape.
Over time, breast implants can cause the breasts to sag. The breasts may also become “deflated” when the implants are removed. Breast lift surgery (mastopexy) is often combined with breast implant removal to restore the breasts to a more youthful position.
Capsulectomy involves removing the scar tissue capsule and the implants together in one piece. Patients with thickened and hardened capsular contracture can benefit from (and often require) this technique.
Patients with ruptured silicone implants are also good candidates for this procedure, as it prevents the silicone gel from escaping into the surrounding tissue. The incision for this technique is more extensive than for other capsulectomy methods.
Following the implant removal, patients will be asked to wear a surgical garment to support their breasts and minimize swelling. A drainage tube may be placed to collect any excess blood or bodily fluids.
Swelling and bruising will occur but should resolve after a few weeks. Patients will be asked to refrain from physical activity and heavy lifting for at least four to six weeks. Patients will be able to return to all normal activities and work six weeks after their procedure.
General anesthesia is administered before breast implant removal, making it a pain-free experience. Dr. Pearce may prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort during the recovery period. Alternatively, over-the-counter pain medication may be sufficient.
Generally, scars that develop from breast implant removal are hidden beneath the breast or camouflaged by the darker skin of the areola. Scars can be easily hidden underneath clothing and will likely fade over time. Scars can also be minimized by avoiding sun exposure and practicing proper skincare.
Patients can expect long-lasting results following their breast implant removal that will provide them with satisfaction and relief.
Most women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding are good candidates for breast implant removal. Good candidates should also be in good health and have realistic expectations for their results.
The cost of breast implant removal will depend on the techniques chosen, procedures combined, and other varying factors. Dr. Pearce will go over the cost and the appropriate removal option during a scheduled consultation in his Austin, Texas, office.
An MRI or ultrasound is the most reliable method for determining if silicone implants have ruptured. The FDA advises that all patients with silicone implants schedule an MRI screening within three years of the initial breast augmentation and every two years following that. Saline ruptures are much easier to identify as the body absorbs the saline. Most women realize a rupture within the first few hours.
Breast implant illness (BII) is a term used to describe symptoms that some women associate with their breast implants. These symptoms may include brain fog, rashes, chronic pain, and many more.
Removing the implants and surrounding scar tissue is recommended for women who experience BII.
Patients should bring their medical records from previous operations to their consultation. An operative center or hospital may have these medical records if a doctor does not have this information. This can help with the planning process for breast implant removal.
Patients should also prepare questions and be ready to discuss their medical goals, cosmetic concerns, underlying conditions, current medications, and previous surgeries.
Dr. Pearce will discuss a patient’s overall health and examine their breasts to develop the safest treatment plan possible. He will also explain the risks associated with breast implant removal. Some of the possible risks associated with breast implant removal include: