For most people, breast implants are expected to last at least 10 years before they should be removed or replaced. The longer a breast implant is inside the body after 10 years, the more likely it is to deteriorate or rupture.
Breast implant replacement, also referred to as breast implant revision surgery, is a surgical procedure that replaces the existing implants for new ones, to change or improve the appearance of the breast, modify the breast implant size or update the implant material if there is implant leakage and rupture.
Breast implants and the results from breast augmentation surgery are not guaranteed to last a lifetime. Breasts can change significantly during a woman’s life and these changes continue to occur in women with breast implants. Weight fluctuations, pregnancy, breastfeeding or the desire for smaller or larger implants, are all factors that may influence the decision to undergo breast implant replacement surgery.
Furthermore, when the breast implant is inserted, the body forms a protective barrier of tissue around the implant known as a capsule. Over time, this tissue capsule may become extremely firm and distorted in a process known as capsular contracture. In this instance, the capsule and implant may need to be removed if it is causing pain or if the breasts’ appearance is asymmetrical.
Normally, breast implants are expected to last 10 years before they start to deteriorate, but breast implants can also rotate and may leak or rupture due to external circumstances. A breast implant replacement surgery is performed to correct any problem related to breast implant movement, leakage or rupture.
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.
Breast implant replacement or breast implant revision surgery has some similarities to the original breast augmentation surgery. In most cases, an incision will be made in the same place as the existing scar, unless additional incisions are required due to other surgical procedures also performed, such as a breast lift (also known as a mastopexy).
The operation involves accessing the pocket into which the implant is placed, using either a pre-existing scar or via a new incision generally in the inframammary crease.
The most common incision placement is within the inframammary fold, which is the horizontal crease where the breast meets the body (breast fold). This incision offers direct access to the submuscular, subpectoral or sub-glandular planes; allowing the surgeon to accurately create the desired pocket boundaries without the need to dissect an access tract between the entry site and the actual pocket.
All implant sizes can be placed through this incision and there may be a lower risk of breastfeeding difficulties and changes in nipple sensation compared to some incisions that go through the breast tissue. A drawback of the inframammary incision is that the resulting scar may not be as hidden as other incisions.
Regardless of the incision used, the patient’s breasts may appear higher placed than planned with the skin appearing tight, immediately after surgery. This tends to settle down over the first six weeks after the operation as a more natural shape emerges.
The nature of the scars will depend on the technique that has been used and the patient’s genetics. Scars tend to be quite red in the first six weeks, changing to purple over the following three months and then fading to white. Abnormal scarring is uncommon in breast augmentation surgery.
A breast revision surgery generally takes between 1-3 hours, with another 2 hours for recovery before the patient can go home. Some patients choose to stay in hospital overnight.
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. This decision 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 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.
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 of 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.
An overnight stay in hospital may be required post-surgery to aid with your recovery. Depending on the complexity of the surgery and any additional procedures, up to 2-4 weeks off work may also be recommended.
There will be some bruising and swelling, which generally subsides about 2 weeks after the operation. You will be required to wear a compression garment or bandages for approximately 6 weeks to provide support and reduce post-operative pain or swelling.
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, then the pain medication can be adjusted 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 Replacement FAQs
Also referred to as breast implant revision surgery, it involves the removal and/or replacement of breast implants for a variety of possible reasons such as the desire to increase or reduce the breast size, leakage or rupture of the breast implant, capsule contracture and other cosmetic and health concerns.
Breast implants can be replaced after migration or rupture, or because they have gone hard (capsular contracture). Surgery may be required if there is a problem with the implant or if there has been a change in the relationship between the breast and the implant that has a negative impact on the breast appearance or the individual is experiencing pain. Some people also choose to have their implants replaced due to changes in the appearance of their breasts as a result of weight fluctuation, changes related to pregnancy or breastfeeding, and the desire for smaller or larger implants.
Breast implant revision surgery will have similar risks to the initial implant surgery (breast augmentation or breast reconstruction). There may be additional risks if the revision surgery is more extensive and additional breast surgery, such as a breast lift, is performed at the same time.
Breast implant replacement surgery is performed in an accredited hospital under a general anaesthetic. Breast revision/breast implant replacement surgery is usually more extensive than the initial surgery and an overnight stay is often required.
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.
Capsulectomy is generally performed with implant removal or implant replacement, the total operation taking between 1-3 hours. An overnight stay is over required.
Pain following surgery will vary depending on the extent of surgery. Pain immediately after surgery may be reduced by the use of local anaesthetic at the surgical site given during the surgery. The pain will also be managed with tablets or injections as required. Physical measures such as the dressings and supportive garments as well as limited movement and possibly ice packs will all help minimise any pain. Pain is usually well tolerated within a few days after surgery with all these measures. If your pain is increasing following surgery this is usually a sign that you may need a review to ensure your recovery is proceeding as expected.
Dressings and supportive garments will offer support to the wounds and the areas of your body that are still recovering. You will be also be advised to restrict excessive movement of the surgical area in the first two weeks after surgery. A good general rule throughout your recovery is if an increase in movement or activity does not increase any discomfort or swelling, then it is probably safe and this gradual progression back to ‘normal’ will be encouraged.
Please allow an hour for your time with Avery. This will include meeting with Dr Avery and the Avery care team.
Dr Avery operates at the accredited Lingard Private Hospital. This is to ensure your operation takes place in an environment governed by the guiding principle of safety to ensure your surgical experience is the best it can be.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Dr Avery is a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, ASAPS and ASPS. Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.