Breast Implant Removal
- What Is Breast Explant Surgery?
- Reasons for Breast Implant Removal
- Breast Implant Removal Procedure
- Breast Implant Removal Results
- Breast Implant Removal Recovery
What Is Breast Explant Surgery?
When breast augmentation surgery is performed by a highly qualified plastic surgeon, patients are typically thrilled with their results. Modern implants are specially designed to look natural, feel natural, and provide volume and symmetry to the physique for up to a decade. That said, there are many valid reasons a woman may want to eventually remove her implants. These reasons are typically for aesthetic or personal reasons. However, in less common cases, the implants may be considered the source of health problems and their removal may be the safest option for the patient.
Joseph DiBello, MD, FACS, our board-certified plastic surgeon, understands that the decision to undergo breast implant removal surgery (also known as “breast explant surgery”) can be difficult. Dr. DiBello can help you decide whether breast explant surgery is your best option during an initial one-on-one consultation.
What Are Common Reasons for Breast Implant Removal?
Patients may express a desire to remove their breast implants if:
- The implant has ruptured or leaked
- The patient wants to switch from silicone to saline implants (or vice versa)
- The patient would rather have implants of a different size or shape
- The patient dislikes the way the implants look or feel and simply wants them removed
- The patient has been diagnosed with capsular contracture (or an abnormal hardening of tissue surrounding the implant)
Alternatively, a patient may require explant surgery if they are suffering from certain health concerns, such as breast implant illness (BII) or breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). The former is generally described as a possible autoimmune reaction to implants, often manifesting in soreness, fatigue, rashes, and headaches. Please note, however, that much research still needs to be conducted on this issue, which has not been officially recognized to be related to breast implants. Meanwhile, BIA-ALCL is an extremely rare type of cancer that has been associated with textured breast implants. The FDA states only 0.03% of patients – not even 10 women per year – develop BIA-ALCL.
If you would like to learn more about any of these concerns, feel free to discuss them with Dr. DiBello during your consultation.
What Does Breast Implant Removal Surgery Entail?
To perform explant surgery, Dr. DiBello typically uses a strategy known as “internal capsulorrhaphy,” which refers to the removal of the entire implant and revision of the capsule. Removing some parts of the capsule while tightening other areas of the capsule will help to close the space left from implant removal while limiting damage to the surrounding breast tissue. Occasionally, in cases of ruptured silicone-gel from silicone implants, severe capsular contractures, or for malignancy, a total capsulectomy (in which the entire implant capsule is removed) may be necessary. Most capsulorrhaphies or capsulectomies can be performed using an incision in the inframammary crease, though this may vary depending on the size and location of the implants. Drains are generally placed for a short period of time when implants are not replaced. As with every procedure offered at our practice, Dr. DiBello will carefully place the incisions to leave as little noticeable scarring as possible.
While certain conditions may warrant the complete removal of implants, most patients opt to have their implants replaced. This surgery is called breast implant revision, and can be especially beneficial if you dislike the effects of an augmentation performed by a less experienced surgeon. This procedure can replace your implants with an alternative type, shape, or size, or can involve the repositioning of your implants on the chest wall. In situations where you still desire breast fullness but wish to avoid having implants replaced, if you have adequate donor fatty tissue, a fat transfer breast augmentation may be a consideration. If you are unsure whether to consider breast implant revision or removal, Dr. DiBello will gladly help you decide after a thorough examination of your needs and goals.
What Will My Breasts Look Like After Implant Removal?
It is important to understand that after your breast explant surgery, your breasts may not look the same as they did prior to your augmentation. A certain degree of skin stretching and sometimes even ptosis (breast sag) is sometimes present, particularly if your implants have been in place for years or are especially large. For this reason, Dr. DiBello often incorporates a breast lift into explant surgery to help patients achieve their ideal physique.
What Can I Expect in My Breast Implant Removal Recovery?
Immediately following your breast explant surgery, you can expect to notice mild swelling, bruising, or soreness; however, these should dissipate as your breasts heal. Additionally, plan to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for at least a month. Some patients may be prescribed pain medications or directed to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to ease discomfort. The course of your recovery may vary depending on the techniques Dr. DiBello uses during the procedure. He will provide you with personalized aftercare instructions when surgery is complete.
To determine whether you are a candidate for breast explant surgery, we welcome you to contact our practice today. Dr. DiBello will work with you to come up with a personalized treatment plan.