Breast implants are foreign material that are not considered to be life-long devices and can be removed if needed. Options to consider following removal include: leaving the breast without an implant, implant replacement, complete capsulectomy, breast lift or reduction.
Breasts can change significantly during a woman’s life and these changes continue to occur in women with breast implants. Breast implants can also rotate and may leak or rupture.
Breast implants may also influence both the surrounding breast tissue and your body in general. Furthermore, your feelings about having breast implants may change over time, all of which may be influenced by your experiences, lifestyle and current or future priorities.
Please note that individual results will vary depending on the individual, their genetics and lifestyle factors, and all surgeries have associated risks. Before proceeding with any surgery, it is advisable to seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner such as a Plastic Surgeon. Dr. Gary Avery (MED0001633092) a registered medical practitioner, with specialist registration in Surgery – Plastic Surgery. Dr Avery is also a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS
There are a number of reasons why women consider removal of their breast implants. It may be that your lifestyle or what stage you are in life has changed and you no longer want implants. It may be due to a problem with the implant such as rupture, rotation or malposition of the implant. It may be due to changes in your breast appearance and the relationship between the breast and the implant.
A layer of scar tissue forms around all implants (capsule), if this scar tissue is very thick, it can cause breast distortion and even discomfort (capsular contracture). It may be due to either potential or definite health concerns such as breast implant associated lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) or a currently incompletely understood condition referred to as breast implant illness.
Whatever the reason, it is possible to have your breast implants removed. There may be additional considerations regarding the nature of implant removal surgery, depending on your concerns and goals.
Considerations for the type and extent of potential breast implant removal surgery include potential removal of the entire capsule (scar tissue) around the implant (this is referred to as an en bloc excision). The size, shape and position of the remaining breast may also be altered, with options ranging from using the pre-existing scar from the original implant surgery, to a more extensive scar around the nipple areolar complex and lower part of the breast, which would result in a scar similar to that of the scar following breast lift or reduction surgery.
Patients considering any form of breast surgery will need to come in for a consultation with Dr Avery to discuss your expectations, along with the surgical options for how these can be achieved. During your consultation with the Avery team, we will ensure that the surgery you are considering is the appropriate choice for you.
At Avery, we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with surgery. Our patients’ stories matter a great deal to us.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Your reasons for having surgery and your expectations from surgery are important conversations to have before undergoing surgery. Dr Avery will also assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
Your Breast Implant Removal
Your GP or another specialist that knows you well must make a referral to Dr Avery. The decision to have a consultation may be made after talking with family or friends or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss your motivations for surgery and expectations from surgery. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate or remove. We will discuss any concerns you may have about your potential surgery and its outcome. We will also collect information that is specific and tailored to you, to add to the knowledge you acquired through your research outside of the consultation process.
When you arrive at Avery, you will check in with our Care Team and complete a medical history form, if not already completed. We encourage you to bring a supportive family member or friend who can remain with you throughout the consultation if you like, and be a sounding board during your decision-making process following the consultation.
The consultation with Dr Avery will include an examination of the area of your body that you are concerned with and considering changing. Our aim will be to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and if so, what specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
Plastic surgery procedures can impact physical appearance and there may be a psychological response to the changes in your body after surgery. Besides the reasons for having plastic surgery, it is important to be fully aware of any potential limitations of the operation and how they apply to your unique situation. This includes the risks of having surgery and all of the possible complications that can occur after surgery, and what can be done if these occur.
We will discuss what the surgery involves, how it relates to you specifically given your uniqueness and current state of health, what the possible risks of the surgery are, and then decide if having the surgery is a safe and appropriate choice for you as an individual.
Your consultation will also include a discussion of the estimated financial implications of having this surgery or surgeries that were discussed with Dr Avery.
After your consultation, our Care Team will be there to talk through any further questions you have, including the cost of the surgery.
At Avery, our goal is to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge needed for you to feel empowered throughout the decision-making process, surgery and post-surgery.
Breast implant removal surgery is performed in an accredited hospital under a general anaesthetic. Important considerations regarding the nature and extent of the surgery relate to the incision placement, the amount of implant capsule to be removed (this is the body of scar tissue layer around the implant) and finally if there will be a breast lift performed during the same operation. The incision placement dictates the final position of the scar, if there is no breast lift being performed, the scar will often sit in the lower breast crease or infra-mammary fold.
If a breast lift is also being performed, an anchor or lollipop scar will result. The breast capsule contains the implant and may be completely removed if required, at times due to its thickness or what it is attached to it is not possible to completely remove the implant capsule with the breast implant. The implant capsule refers to the layer of scar tissue the body forms around the implant, leaving some of this in the body does not mean the implant material is being left behind.
Breast implant removal surgery can take between 1-2 hours. Generally, an overnight stay in hospital is required. Surgical drains may be used to drain excess fluid following the surgery. As with most breast procedures, all sutures are underneath the skin and do not need to be removed and the dressings used are usually waterproof.
As with all surgical procedures, Breast implant removal surgery does have risks, despite the highest standards of practice. It is not usual for any surgeon to outline every possible side effect or rare complication of a surgical procedure. However, it is important that you have enough information about the most common risks to fully weigh up the benefits, risks, and limitations of surgery.
The following possible complications are listed to inform and not to alarm you. There may be other complications that are not listed. Smoking, obesity, and other significant medical problems will cause greater risk of complications.
Some general risks and possible complications of surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Heavy bleeding from an operated site. This may require a blood transfusion.
- Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases.
- Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions.
- The formation of a large blood clot (haematoma) beneath an incision site may require further surgery.
- Complications such as heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke may be caused by a blood clot, which can be life threatening.
- Pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s).
- Slow healing, often related to smoking or diabetes.
- Short-term nausea following general anaesthesia and other risks related to anaesthesia.
- Tissue cannot heal without scarring and that how one scars is dependent on individual genetic characteristics. Dr Avery will do his best to minimise scarring but cannot control its ultimate appearance.
- Smoking or using nicotine products during the 3–4-week pre-operative and post-operative periods is prohibited as these could dramatically increase the chances of complications.
- All medications I am currently taking, including prescriptions, over the counter remedies, herbal therapies and supplements, aspirin, and any other recreational drug or alcohol use can affect the safety of my surgery.
- There can be no guarantees about the results of any surgery.
Some specific risks for breast implant removal surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Hematoma (bleeding / blood accumulation) which may require surgery
- Possible impact on ability to breastfeed
- Loss of nipple sensation
- Scarring which may influence future surgery if required
- Impact on my physical appearance, such as distortion, wrinkling, significant loss of volume; the extent and impact of this may be variable and unpredictable.
- Need for more surgery for surgical corrections (revision surgery – short or long term)
- Further recovery time if further surgery is required
- Pain and discomfort
- Failure to improve all symptoms thought to be related to breast implants
- DVT (deep vein thrombosis) – clot in legs or PE (pulmonary embolus) – clot in lungs
- Allergic reactions to tape, suture material, topical preparations, medications
- Implant rupture and inability to remove 100% of the residual silicone from the breast or lymph nodes
- It may not be possible to remove all of capsule (scar tissue layer)
- It may not be possible to remove implant and capsule as one (en-bloc removal)
- Dissatisfaction or disappointment with result.
Breast implant removal can be performed as a day procedure. However, most patients stay in hospital for one night following surgery. Depending on the complexity, up to two weeks off work may be recommended.
If you have undergone another surgery in addition to the breast implant removal, a longer stay in hospital might also be necessary for recovery. As with any operation, you will need to organise somebody to drive you home. We encourage our patients to have another adult stay with them during the first night after surgery.
After breast implant removal surgery, you will be required to wear a supportive surgical bra for 4–6 weeks to provide support and reduce post-operative pain or swelling, which generally subsides about two weeks after the surgery. After 6 weeks’ recovery, you should be able to resume a normal level of physical activity.
A customised pain relief program will be created for you and issued before you leave the hospital. If circumstances change at any stage during the recovery period, we can adjust the pain medication accordingly.
The financial aspects of your surgery are as important as the medical elements when planning for surgery. At Avery, the surgeries we offer fall into three different financial categories: Self-funded – aesthetic surgery; self-funded – plastic and reconstructive surgery; and health insured – plastic and reconstructive surgery.
To make sense of these three financial categories, we have created a detailed price guide to help you understand what may or may not be covered by your health insurer/Medicare and your out of pocket expenses.
For more information or to book a consultation, please contact our team on 02 4002 4150.
Breast Implant Removal FAQs
It is important to consider that there may be changes in the appearance, size and position of the breasts due to the impact of the implant on the breast tissue and skin, and also the passage of time, so that removing the implant may not see the breast return to how it was prior to having a breast implant. For further risks associated with breast implant removal, please visit the risks section on the service page.
Scarring will vary between patients. The size and location will depend on the type of surgery had, as well as your skin type. Usually, the scar will be red at first, but fades over time, finishing a little lighter or darker than the surrounding skin after 12-18 months.
It is possible to retain normal nipple sensation after surgery. Generally, the chance that there will be a change in nipple sensation increases with the extensiveness of the surgery. Some women may experience a reduced sensation in the nipples that can be temporary or permanent. They may also find their nipples hypersensitive for a short time after surgery. For further risks associated with this surgery, please visit the risks section on this service page.
There is always a chance of rupture with all types of implants. Intense physical pressure caused by a car accident or other trauma, or an aged implant may rupture without trauma. When a silicone gel implant ruptures, the silicone gel stays in the body. The body tries to contain this rupture, which may cause inflammation, potential pain or change in the breast appearance. When saline implants rupture, all that leaks out is salt water, which is harmlessly absorbed into the body. For further risks associated with breast augmentation surgery, please visit the risks section on this service page.
There is a chance of implant rupture with all types of implants, the chance of rupture increases as the implants ages. At times it may be significant trauma that causes implant rupture but most often no particular cause for this can be identified. When a silicone gel implant ruptures, the silicone gel stays in the breast, mostly contained by the scar tissue known as the capsule. The body tries to contain this rupture, which may cause inflammation, potential pain or change in the breast appearance. When saline implants rupture, the saltwater leaks out into the surrounding tissue, which is harmlessly absorbed into the body.
If your implant has failed or leaked, you might notice a change in the size or shape of your breast. You might also feel tenderness or pain in the breast. However, some women do not notice any signs or symptoms. An examination and possible ultrasound or MRI is advisable if you are concerned about a potential implant rupture, or if you have detected a new lump in the breast. It is also recommended to have a routine check and ultrasound of the breast approximately 10 years after breast implant surgery even without any change in the breast appearance.
When a breast implant is placed inside the body, the body forms a layer of scar tissue around the implant, this layer is known as the implant capsule. How thick an implant capsule develops varies between people and varies over time. It can also be influenced by the properties of the implant and where the implant is placed (under or over the pectorals muscle in the chest). With time the capsule may cause symptoms such as pain or a change in appearance in the breast. These changes can occur with or without a problem with the implant itself such as an implant rupture. A capsulectomy refers to the surgical removal of this scar tissue layer. This can be performed during implant replacement or during implant removal. When the entire capsule is removed this is referred to as a total or complete capsulectomy. When it is removed all in one piece with the breast implant included, this is known as en bloc removal and is generally the goal when removing implants in women with symptoms suggestive of breast implant illness. At times, it may not be possible to remove the entire capsule due to factors such as its thickness or its attachment to other important structures. For further risks associated with breast augmentation, please visit the risks section on this service page.
Pain will vary depending on the extent of surgery and your body’s response to the surgery. Pain immediately after surgery may be reduced by use of local anaesthetic at the surgical site. Pain will initially be managed by the hospital staff and by Dr Avery’s oversight. Physical measures such as dressings and supportive garments as well as limited movement will help with pain management. The Avery team will be following your recovery and will be supporting you to be as comfortable as you can be.
Typically, if your surgery is considered cosmetic in nature and does not have a related item number, private health insurance does not cover this surgery. If the surgery is being considered to address significant developmental differences, changes from previous trauma, or to relieve nasal obstruction, then a Medicare item number may apply to the surgery and there may be some cover of this procedure through private health insurance.
Sun exposure can adversely impact early wound healing and have an adverse effect on the pigmentation and long-term quality of you scar(s). All scars should be protected from sun until they are mature, which may not be until one-year post-surgery. A spray tan is okay after a few weeks (once the wound is healed).
Breast Implant Replacement
View all services
Your initial consultation
During your initial consultation we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with your surgery and talk through any concerns or specific goals you may have.
Your initial consultation will include an examination of the area of concern and we'll work with you to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and which specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
The procedure may be combined with other aesthetic surgical procedures on the breast such as breast augmentation, breast reduction and breast lift.