Silicone Breast Implant Removal: What to Expect
A common misconception is that breast augmentation is not reversible. But did you know that you can have your silicone (or saline) implants removed and choose to either replace them or not?
A good number of women decide to have their implants removed. The reasons include lifestyle changes, a breast cancer diagnosis, or unexpected complications, such as capsular contraction, BII, or implant rupture.
What Is Breast Implant Removal?
Breast implant removal (or breast explantation) is the removal of breast implants from the breast pocket. This may include removing them entirely or changing the shape and size of the existing ones.
The procedures include:
- Removing the breast implants and replacing them with new ones
- Repositioning the current implants
- Entirely eliminating the implants without replacing them with others
Your plastic surgeon may recommend performing an implant removal surgery if you develop an infection or capsular contracture (where the scar tissue hardens around the implant).
The main reasons women decide to have their breast implants removed include:
- Personal choice: Some women may decide they no longer need their breast implants due to a change of preferences or lifestyle. Other women feel their breast implants are the wrong size or shape. Pregnancy and weight fluctuations can cause breast implants to shift into the wrong position, but your surgeon can reposition them.
- Breast implant complications: Include rupture, folding, infections, asymmetry, and implant malfunctions (such as leakage). While modern silicone breast implants are made of a cohesive silicone gel that should remain inside the capsule in cases of rupture, the shell can still break.
What’s the Process of Breast Implant Removal Surgery?
Breast implant removal surgery involves general anesthesia and typically lasts between two to three hours. If all goes well, your physician may clear you to return home on the same day or keep you overnight for some monitoring.
The most common surgical techniques for breast removal procedures are:
Breast Implant Removal Only
Your surgeon will make the incisions in the same place the breast augmentation ones were. If you have a capsular contracture, they remove the hardened capsules as well (this is known as a capsulectomy).
Breast Implant Removal With a Breast-Lift
Your plastic surgeon may perform a breast lift during the silicone breast implant removal, especially if your skin appears stretched out or saggy. They typically do away with the excess breast skin and secure your breast tissue to look better and offer better support. In some cases, your cosmetic surgeon may need to resize your areolas to fit your breasts’ new shape and size.
What Is the Process of Recovery Like After Breast Implant Removal Surgery?
While recovery varies from person to person, many plastic surgeons agree that silicone breast implant removal surgery is smoother than its initial breast augmentation counterpart.
Most women can go back to work in five days and report minimal discomfort after the surgery. Depending on the reason for removal, there may be discomfort and a longer recovery time, especially when capsular contracture is involved.
Note that healing occurs in stages, and the overall process will take three to four months, and it is usual to experience soreness and discomfort for a while after the surgery. Breasts will initially appear deflated, but they should regain their volume within a month. Scars almost always fade and become inconspicuous, but they will never disappear entirely.
Avoid excessive exercise and lifting within the first six weeks. Avoid compression attire, eat healthy, sleep well and take your prescription faithfully.
If you are looking to have your breast implants removed, it is important to consult with your surgeon about any questions and concerns you may have concerning the procedure.
Dr. T.Y. Ip – Guest Blog Post