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.
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.
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. You can discover some of our wonderful patients’ journeys here.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Dr Avery will listen to your concerns and what you want to achieve with surgery. Dr Avery will assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
There are two main pathways to a consultation with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon. Your GP or another health practitioner can make a referral to Dr Avery. Alternatively, it is possible to refer yourself for a consultation.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss both your concerns and your goals. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate, improve, restore, enhance, 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 front-desk 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 process.
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 generally impact both physical appearance and your psychological response to the new changes in your body. Besides all the advantages to 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 possible complications 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.
After your consultation, our support 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.
Any information regarding your original implant surgery will be helpful to plan your breast implant removal, and help understand any risks associated with revision surgery to help anticipate the outcome following further surgery. Some investigations such as an ultrasound or MRI may also be requested to assess the status of the current breast implants.
Breast implant removal surgery can typically take between 1-3 hours depending on the extent of surgery performed, and is performed under a general anaesthetic. Surgical drains may be required following surgery, which are generally removed prior to leaving the hospital.
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.
Breast Implant Removal FAQs
It is possible that your nipple and/or breast skin might lose sensation partially or completely after surgery. For most women any change in sensation will be temporary, but in some women there can be a permanent change in nipple sensation.
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. 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, salt water leaks out, 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 you come for your initial consultation, Dr Avery will discuss the different implant options and the risks associated with them.
When you undergo breast reconstruction using an implant, your body forms a capsule that surrounds the implant. If the capsule contains muscle it can contract (called capsular contracture) causing the implant to rupture or deform your breast shape.
Capsulectomy is the surgical removal of scar tissue or capsule that has become thickened and hardened around a breast implant. This surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes 1.5-3 hours to complete.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. If you are concerned about the current warnings regarding breast implant associated lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), please visit ASAPS or ASPS for further information.