Breast Implant Removal

While a surprising number of women opt for an enhanced shape with breast implants, approximately 40,000 of those women will then have breast implant removal surgery for ‘a number of reasons.  For some it may become medically necessary while others want a larger or smaller implant. The reasons women opt for breast implant removal are:

  1. Diagnosis of cancer
  2. Ruptured or deflated implant/replacement
  3. Desire for larger/smaller implant
  4. Capsular Contracture  (when scar tissue forms tightly around the implant)

Though not common it is also possible for a women’s body to react negatively to the implant in which case breast implant removal surgery is imperative for the well being of the patient. These reactions may be:

  1. Bleeding
  2. Infection
  3. Necrosis (formation of dead tissue around the implant causing a lack of proper healing of the wound)
  4. Calcium Deposits
  5. Asymmetry (one implant appears higher or lower than the other, or larger/smaller

Commonly women desire breast implant removal to reduce the size or shape. Similar to how natural breasts over time will loose volume and skin elasticity, a breast with an implant may have some degree of elasticity loss as well.  If considering a breast implant removal without replacement of a new implant, it is important to weigh in factors such as the size of your implants, your age, and your reasons for wanting to remove them.  One who is considering breast implant removal without replacement must be aware of the common occurrences both physical and psychological, they may experience which are: 

Loss of Volume Sometimes a smaller cup size or less volume than before the implants could occur. Depending on several things such as age, weight gain or loss and size of implants, women who have a breast implant removal may experience a considerable amount of loose or excess skin that has lost its elasticity and desire another surgical procedure to tighten and remove this excess skin such as a breast lift. 

Psychological Impact: Women should also be aware of the psychological impacts that are not uncommon with a breast implant removal, namely depression in regards to such a major change in their shape.  Though normal to experience some degree of sadness after breast implant removal, if depression continues beyond a reasonable amount of time, women are strongly encouraged to seek the help of a professional.   

Cosmetic Deformities  Occasionally some women who previously had larger implants and later decide to have breast implant removal surgery may experience tissue atrophy and chest wall deformity if they decide to not have cosmetic reconstruction or new implants of a similar size back in.  This is most often seen when the implant is initially inserted sublandularly which is above the muscle and underneath the breast gland. 

Removal of Breast Implants – The Procedure

Either a local or a general anesthesia may be administered followed by an IVsedation during the removal of breast implants.  The process taking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, is a fairly simple one with little downtime.  Sometimes the doctor may decide to deflate the implant before removal for easier extraction.  Through the nipple, Periareolar, or Inframammory, under the breast fold, are points of extraction in most breast implant removal procedures. 

Recovery from Breast Implant Removal

Though the recovery from a breast implant removal may be quick, full recovery may take up to 3 months.  Initially patients will experience swelling and bruising with mild discomfort and soreness.  Usually patients will be able to return to work within a few days after their breast implant removal surgery.  Some uncommon yet possible complications include:  loss of feeling in the nipple area, scarring, and loose skin.  It is important to talk with your doctor about the possible side effects specific to your body and circumstances as they can vary greatly. 

Dr. Joffrey MD
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