Breast Implant Removal Surgery
Women who undergo breast augmentation with implants usually don't give much thought to breast implant removal, but close to 40,000 women have their breast implants removed each year in the U.S. The main reason women opt for breast implant removal is size change, with as many as 75 percent choosing larger implants for the second go-around.
Breast implant removal (explantation) is revision surgery that involves the removal of the implants and sometimes the naturally-forming scar tissue surrounding them. The latter procedure is called capsulectomy.
Reasons for Breast Implant Removal
Explantation may be required, advisable or even desired in order to address any number of implant-related issues, including:
After living with your breast implants for a while, you may decide that you'd like to change size by going larger or smaller, or perhaps you'd like to change the type of implant.
Implant type (saline to silicone)
Many women will change from saline implants to silicone breast implants if they are dissatisfied with the saline breast implants. Silicone breast implants offer a more natural look and feel which many women prefer to that of the water balloon-like feel of saline filled implants.
Breast implants are not meant to last a lifetime. The outer shells of both saline and silicone breast implants can crack and leak over time.
A breast cancer diagnosis will require breast implant removal, as can the presence of calcium deposits in the breast.
Infection is always a risk following any surgery. Signs of infection include a temperature higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, pain, chills and redness of the entire breast.
Capsular contracture occurs when the capsule or scar that surrounds an implant tightens, causing the breast to become misshapen, hard and painful.
Other breast augmentation complications such as double bubble deformity, synmastia and bottoming out may also necessitate breast implant removal.
Desire to "go natural"
Some women decide to remove their implants permanently for personal reasons.
Breast Implant Removal Surgery
If you are considering explantation, consult with a board certified plastic surgeon who has experience performing breast augmentation with implants. You may want to return to the plastic surgeon who performed your breast augmentation, or you may want to consult with a new surgeon.
Breast implant removal surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis in an office-based surgical suite, free-standing clinic or hospital. Local anesthesia with intravenous sedation is often used, although general anesthesia is also an option.
In a straightforward breast implant removal, the same incisions that were used for your breast augmentation surgery can be used to remove the implants. If the implants are not replaced, the pocket will seal with time. Sometimes removal is paired with a breast lift to compensate for sagging and drooping after the implants are removed. This combination is popular following pregnancy and is sometimes part of mommy makeover.
Explantation Recovery and Risks
The recovery period for breast implant removal varies based on the nature and extent of the surgery. For detailed information on what to expect, visit our articles on breast augmentation recovery and breast lift recovery.
Generally you should expect to be mobile following surgery, but you should not overexert yourself for several days; follow your surgeon's instructions regarding physical activity.
Expect to wear a supportive bra during the healing period. This can help the pocket seal, and prevent the accumulation of fluid if you do not replace your breast implants.
Skin discoloration and swelling are normal early on, but should resolve within a few weeks. You may also experience excessive bleeding, infection, hematoma (a broken blood vessel that may clot), seroma (collection of fluid under the skin) and scarring. You may also feel some distress if your breast size is reduced or if the implant removal was due to a breast cancer diagnosis.
Breast Implant Removal Costs
Breast implant removal costs anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. This price includes the surgeon's fee, anesthesia fee and facility fee. Like all surgical costs, these will vary — sometimes considerably — based on your geographic location, your surgeon's expertise, the facility in which the procedure is performed and other factors such as whether your surgery is paired with a breast lift and/or new breast implants. If you choose new implants and/or a breast lift as part of the procedure, it can cost about $10,000.
Breast implant removal may be covered by insurance if it is performed for a medical reason such as breast cancer diagnosis or a severe infection. Most breast implants used in the U.S. have warranties that cover replacement if the breast implant ruptures. Find out what is or isn't covered before you schedule your breast implant removal procedure. As with most cosmetic procedures, financing options are available. Start the process now.