Breast augmentation is an extremely popular type of cosmetic surgery with a high satisfaction rate among patients. However, there are some cases where a woman may decide that she no longer wants to keep her breast implants. Undergoing a breast implant removal procedure is a very personal decision that involves weighing a number of different considerations.
Introduction to Explant Surgery
Breast implant removal (explant) is a type of surgery used for the removal of breast implants after a breast augmentation procedure or breast reconstruction. During this type of surgery, the plastic surgeon may also be removing silicone from the implants and the breast capsule, or scar tissue that develops around breast implants.
In many cases, the scar tissue that has developed after implant placement is soft and will not require removal. Sometimes, the scar tissue may harden, leading to pain and discomfort. This is a common reason why some women choose to have their breast implants and scar tissue removed with a surgical procedure.
It is easy to think of breast implants as essentially lasting forever. However, they are not meant to last for a lifetime. They must be removed or exchanged about every 10 to 15 years. This decision normally comes down to the individual needs and desires of the patient.
Some women don’t have much choice when it comes to removing their breast implants, as they may break down and leak silicone, causing the scar tissue to harden.
The best candidates for breast implant removal are those who:
- Do not smoke
- Have realistic expectations
- Are at a stable weight and physically healthy
- Perceive their breasts as being too heavy
- Have the possibility of a leak of their implants
- Are unsatisfied by the appearance of their breast implants
What to Expect
Before undergoing any type of surgery, you will need to meet with your surgeon for an evaluation of your overall health, as well as to determine if you have any risk factors. There will also be an examination of your breasts, which may include taking photographs.
Your consultation is an appropriate time to go over all of your concerns with your plastic surgeon and ask any questions that you may have about any step involved with the surgery or your recovery. The safety and success of your implant removal surgery is very much dependent upon your complete candidness before your procedure.
Breast Implant Removal Procedure
The first step of your breast implant removal procedure would be the administration of anesthesia so that you are completely comfortable throughout. This may involve either IV sedation or general anesthesia, depending upon the recommendations of your doctor and anesthesiologist.
Next, your plastic surgeon would place an incision along the breast fold or create an incision either around or below the areola.
The next step of your procedure may vary, depending upon the specific technique used. In many cases, your surgeon would remove both breast capsules and implants using a variety of techniques.
Finally, your surgeon will close your incisions using sutures, tape, skin adhesives or clips.
Although every patient is different, this is a general timetable of expected milestones as you rest up and recover from your breast implant removal surgery.
First 24 Hours
It is normal to experience some minor incisional bleeding, swelling, and bruising during the first 24 hours after surgery. Avoid lying on your stomach during this time. Feel free to remove your bra to shower.
If drains were used in your procedure, be sure to record their outputs as instructed. You should also be taking all of your pain medications and antibiotics according to your instructions.
Remain hydrated and get plenty of bed rest.
One Week Later
If your procedure involved the placement of drains, they may be removed at this time if the drainage falls within an acceptable range.
Three Weeks Later
You should be able to have your incision tape removed by this time. You should also be able to return to work and engage in moderate exercise.
Although your breasts may still appear somewhat swollen, they should be nearing their final size. It is common to experience things like shooting pains, numbness, and discomfort at this time. If this is more than you can handle, contact your surgeon.
Three Months Later
By now, most if not all of your restrictions will likely have been lifted.
Breast Implant Removal Cost
The cost of a breast implant removal procedure varies widely, but generally ranges anywhere from $5000 to $8000. Some factors that go into the cost of the procedure include the specific plastic surgeon used, geographical region, and procedure complexity. If you will be replacing your implants, it can cost you an additional $2500 to $3500.