Breast Implant Removal Procedure
Many women enjoy the boost of confidence and enhanced silhouette provided by breast implants. But personal circumstances and societal trends can change. While breast augmentation surgery can provide results that leave many patients satisfied for decades, this does not always occur. Some women with breast implants experience systemic symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, rash, memory loss, and “brain fog,” that some patients have called breast implant illness. While the causes of these symptoms are unclear, some patients have reported relief of these symptoms with removal of their implants and surrounding scar tissue capsule. Researchers are working to better understand the possible link between breast implants and these symptoms.
For patients who no longer want their breast implants (for “breast implant illness,” pain, or aesthetic reasons), explant surgery (breast implant removal) can remove your unwanted implants and restore a more natural breast aesthetic.
Am I a Candidate for Breast Implant Removal?
There are several reasons patients may want their breast implants removed. The look of large breasts is no longer as fashionable as it once was. Instead, many women are now interested in a more natural, balanced breast aesthetic. Additionally, some women decide that the feel of larger breasts is no longer to their liking, or their breasts changed after pregnancy or weight fluctuations, making them second-guess their implants.
In rare cases, some women experience physical complications and symptoms, often referred to as breast implant illness (BII), which can often be lessened or eliminated with breast implant removal.
Ideal candidates are non-smokers in good general health who maintain a stable weight.
Common aesthetic reasons to remove breast implants include:
- Breast asymmetry
- Overly large or heavy breasts
- Skin rippling
- A desire for smaller, more natural-looking breasts
Common medical reasons to remove breast implants include:
- Breast pain, especially around scar tissue (capsular contracture)
- Implant leaks or ruptures
- Implant malposition (shifting)
Generally speaking, patients should wait several months after their breast augmentation to decide whether to remove them. However, if an implant leak or rupture is detected or the scar tissue hardens, explant surgery may be necessary immediately.
This process does involve surgery, so it should only be done when you are sure you want it. No matter how safe, surgery requires careful thought.
How Is Breast Implant Removal Surgery Performed?
Breast implant removal begins with a consultation with Dr. Goldberg. She will evaluate your physical condition and ask you about your goals. This will help her determine if breast implant removal is the best way to achieve your desired results.
The breast implant removal procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. An incision will be made under the breast or around the nipple and the implant removed. If possible, Dr. Goldberg will use the same incision as your initial breast augmentation to minimize scarring.
Once the incision is made, Dr. Goldberg removes the unwanted implant. In most cases, breast implant removal is combined with a breast lift to help repair sagging skin. This is more necessary for patients whose large breast implants have stretched their breast tissues.
If you prefer to replace your breast implants, you may choose to do so. Learn more about breast implant replacement.
For patients whose implants are placed under the pectoralis major muscle, Dr. Goldberg will repair the pectoralis major muscle down to its natural position on the chest to prevent any deformity to your chest wall once your implants are removed. This is not always performed by other plastic surgeons, and a patient should always ask her plastic surgeon whether this will be performed.
What About Implant Ruptures or Capsular Contracture?
If your breast implants have ruptured or you experience capsular contracture, your plastic surgeon may need to perform a capsulectomy. This involves removing the scar tissue that surrounds your implant.
There are three types of capsulectomy:
- Partial capsulectomy
- Removes the parts of the capsule that have hardened or are stuck to the implant
- Total capsulectomy
- Removes the entire capsule in several sections
- En bloc capsulectomy
- Removes the entire capsule as a single unit
- This is the most challenging form of capsule removal and requires a larger incision and longer recovery
Depending on how much capsule manipulation will be performed (complete or partial capsulectomy), Dr. Goldberg will leave a drain for several days to prevent seroma formation (fluid collection) at the end of the surgery. She then will intricately close the incision.
Will I Need to Combine My Implant Removal With a Breast Lift?
Many women who choose to remove their implants permanently benefit from a combined breast lift. This will help ensure a beautiful, lifted, and more youthful breast aesthetic once the additional volume from the implant is gone.
Breast Lift Incision Locations
Your breast lift incision may include one of the following incisions:
- Periareolar incisions
- This consists of an incision around the areola
- This incision only allows for a small amount of correction
- Vertical (lollipop) incisions
- This consists of an incision around the areola that continues down the lower pole of the breast to the crease
- Anchor incisions
- This technique includes an incision around the areola that continues down the lower pole and across the inframammary fold
Through these incisions, Dr. Goldberg tightens underlying tissues and trims excess skin.
Dr. Goldberg uses GalaFEX™ scaffolding during many breast lift surgeries. This mesh acts as an internal scaffold, providing additional breast support.
What Is Breast Implant Removal Recovery Like?
Breast implant removal recovery time usually lasts two weeks. During this time, you should avoid work and most physical activity. Dressings, bandages, drainage tubes, and support or compression garments may all be part of your recovery. Dr. Goldberg will prescribe medication as needed to manage pain.
Your surgical team will provide detailed instructions for the care of the incision site and how to treat inflammation.
You should avoid vigorous exercise and demanding physical activity for four to six weeks. It is important to rest while recovering and only resume physical activities when cleared by your care team.
What to Expect After Breast Implant Removal?
It may take several months to a year for your final breast contours to become visible. Your results will vary depending on the size of the implant removed.
There will be scarring following your implant removal. Scars can be treated with special creams and other topical products.
Keep your healing breasts out of direct sunlight for at least a year to promote scar healing. All scars will fade over time.
How Much Does Breast Explant Surgery Cost?
Breast implant removal costs will vary depending on your location and the fees charged by your surgeon, anesthesiologist, and surgical center. The cost of your bandages, medications, compression garments, and any other needed materials will be included in your implant removal price.
What Other Procedures Are Offered?
If you are interested in other surgical procedures, implant removal surgery is commonly combined with breast lift surgery or breast reduction surgery. Fat grafting is available with or without new implants to prevent extreme volume loss.
Interested in Breast Implant Removal in Beverly Hills?
You shouldn’t have to live with breast implants you don’t want. Breast implant revision can restore the breast contours you desire.
Dr. Mytien Goldberg is a Stanford-educated and board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills.