Some women who have breast implants choose to have them removed further down the line. There are many reasons for breast implant removal. Some relate to personal preference, such as a patient changing her mind about how she wants her body to look. Other reasons may be medical in nature or related to a patient’s desire for a different kind of cosmetic surgery. We’ll explore the varied reasons behind breast implant removal surgery, how a plastic surgeon performs the procedure, and what happens afterwards.
Why Would Someone Opt for Breast Implant Removal Surgery?
The decision to get your breast implants removed is a personal one; your reason for doing so is probably different from somebody else’s. Note: Some of these reasons for removal may include in pain, discomfort, or other health reasons. If that’s what you’re experiencing, or you have concerns about your implants, it’s important to talk to your plastic surgeon right away. He or she may recommend removing them.
- You are experiencing an infection and/or bleeding.
- There is a build-up of calcium.
- You’re experiencing necrosis—the development of dead tissue around the implant.
- You have hard scar tissue – For most patients, the scar tissue that forms after breast implant surgery is soft. But hardened scar tissue can develop, resulting in pain and discomfort. When the breast implants are removed, the scar tissue will be too.
- It’s time for a refreshed set of implants – Breast implants are not for life. They should be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
- The outside shell of the implant broke down – This causes the silicone to leak and the scar tissue that formed around the implant to harden. When this happens, breast implant removal surgery is necessary.
- The implant has folded or deflated.
- You’re unsatisfied with the size of your implants – If you feel your breast implants are too large for your preferences, you may choose to return to your breasts’ natural size and shape. Alternatively, your plastic surgeon may be able to replace the implants with smaller ones to achieve the look you desire. The same is true if after surgery you feel your implants are too small.
- You are no longer willing to deal with any associated health issues, inconveniences, or costs – For example, large breast implants may make a fitness routine a bit more challenging or result in back pain. Breast implants can also make a mammography (which uses X-rays to detect breast cancer) more difficult, especially if the implants are placed on top of the breast tissue. You will likely need extra images taken during your mammography.
Common Health Concerns
Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer but a very rare and slow-moving cancer of the immune system. In cases where it occurs in people with breast implants, it can usually be cured by removing the implant and scar tissue. Fewer than 10 patients a year experience it, which is a very small number, considering 10 to 11 million women worldwide have received breast implant surgery.
Breast Implant Illness (BII)
Sometimes called breast implant-associated illness (BIAI), this is not an official diagnosis. It refers to a collection of similar symptoms that some patients self-report. Signs of BII include (but aren’t limited to):
- Chest pain
- Chronic pain
- Sleep problems
- Hair loss
- Cognitive issues
There is not enough data to make BII an official diagnosis or know how common it is. In 2018, on 2 Facebook pages, 50,000 women reported having symptoms they referred to as BII. Most patients find that breast implant removal eliminates the symptoms of BII.
En Bloc Capsulectomy
This is a surgical procedure that involves removing the breast implant and the entire capsule of scar tissue encasing the implant in one piece. A cosmetic surgeon will perform this procedure following a complication in the previous breast implant surgery. This type of breast implant removal is not necessary or practical in most cases. For example, the procedure may not be possible if the capsule tissue is too thin. An en bloc capsulectomy also requires a long incision, resulting in a noticeable scar. The procedure may be appropriate in a select few cases, however, such as when the implant is ruptured. In the case of one study, 26% of the women who had gotten their implants removed did so by means of an en bloc capsulectomy.
How Breast Implant Removal Is Done
Breast implant removal surgery takes between two and three hours and is performed under general anesthesia. You may be able to go home the same day, depending on your recovery. During your breast implant removal procedure, your plastic surgeon will make an incision at the same place where it was made during your breast implant surgery. This could be along the lower fold of your breast (the inframammary fold) or around or below the areola. The technique used to remove the implant itself will vary depending on your particular surgery and plastic surgeon. Often, a plastic surgeon will use a combination of techniques. If you have hardened scar tissue, then the surgeon will remove this as well to aid the healing process. Finally, he or she will use sutures, skin adhesive, tapes, or clips to close the incisions. Recovery from implant removal surgery varies from person to person, but most plastic surgeons agree that recovery is quicker and smoother than it is for breast implant surgery. Most women can return to work in five days. For the first six weeks after surgery you will need to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. Also, it may take several months before your breasts settle into their new positions. During your healing period, your plastic surgeon may recommend that you wear compression garments and take pain medication to deal with any initial discomfort and pain.
What Happens After Implant Removal?
Many women opt for breast implant removal with a lift. After the removal of your breast implants, you may find that your breast skin has been stretched or sags. A plastic surgeon can perform implant removal with a lift to correct these changes. During the breast lift part of the procedure, he or she will perform skin tightening, removing any excess breast skin and tightening your breast tissue to provide extra support. He or she may also resize your areolas to better fit the new breast shape. Another option for breast implant removal surgery is to have your implants deflated. This option only applies to implants filled with saline solution. It is not suitable for silicone-based implants. Once deflated, a surgeon will typically wait two to three months for the breast skin to contract. Once this happens, you can do one of two things:
- You can choose to do nothing.
- A plastic surgeon can place larger, smaller, or the same size implants back into your breasts to achieve a larger, smaller, or the same look.
- You can have a breast lift.
Perhaps you’ve had your implants in for 10 to 15 years, and it’s time for a change. You may decide to replace your implants with the same or a different size. Or you may not want them replaced. The decision is up to you. At Ver Halen Aesthetics, we’ll walk you through any pros and cons.
The Cost of Removal Surgery and How to Pay for It
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the average cost of breast implant removal surgery in 2018 was $2,566. You can pay for the procedure in a number of ways at Ver Halen Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery, including healthcare credit cards issued by Synchrony Bank (CareCredit®) and Comenity® Capital Bank (Alphaeon Credit®). You may also choose a secured loan from United Medical Credit or Enhance Patient Finance. United Medical Credit is suitable for prime and subprime lenders and has multiple plan options and flexible terms. Or you can pay by:
- Credit card
- Cashier’s check
- In-house financing
- Other types of loans
Whatever the reason for removing your breast implants and whatever your vision for your body afterwards, an experienced, Board-certified plastic surgeon can ensure you achieve your desired results. It’s important to have an in-depth, one-on-one consultation with your surgeon to make sure your interests will be taken care of. Contact Ver Halen Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation today!