Breast Implant Removal

Breast implant removal, also known as explantation, is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of breast implants. This procedure can be performed for various reasons, including personal preference, implant-related complications, or changes in personal health or aesthetic goals. Over the years some women decide to have their breast implants removed, replaced with smaller or larger implants or have a breast lift performed. The following is important information regarding breast implant removal.

Reasons for Breast Implant Removal:

  • Personal Preference: Some individuals may choose to have their breast implants removed because they no longer desire the enhanced breast size or shape that the implants provide. Personal preferences and aesthetic goals can change over time, and breast implant removal allows individuals to return to their natural breast appearance. Trends in aesthetic appearance also change with time, which can lead a woman to decide to increase or decrease her breast size.
  • Implant-Related Complications: Breast implants may occasionally develop complications that require removal. These complications can include implant rupture, capsular contracture (excessive scar tissue formation around the implant), implant malposition, or implant-associated infection. In such cases, removing the implants can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall breast health. Often women will decide to have the implants replaced with new implants at the time of surgery.
  • Health Concerns: In certain situations, individuals may opt for breast implant removal due to concerns about their overall health. This may include concerns about the long-term effects of breast implants, autoimmune reactions, or “breast implant illness” (a collection of symptoms some individuals attribute to their breast implants). It is important to note that “breast implant illness” is not an official medical diagnosis, and these issues are continuing to be studied. Dr. Landis can never promise that systemic or non-breast illnesses will be cured with breast implant removal, but during a consultation she will discuss realistic outcomes for a patient’s decisions.

Procedure:

Breast implant removal is performed under general anesthesia. This ensures the patient is asleep and comfortable during the procedure. Dr. Landis will make an incision, typically in the inframammary crease, however choice of incision location depends on various factors, including the type and size of the implants and the patient’s anatomy. Dr. Landis will carefully remove the breast implants, along with any surrounding scar tissue (capsule) that can safely be removed. The technique used will depend on the specific case. In some cases, a total capsulectomy (complete removal of the scar tissue capsule) may be necessary, and in others only a partial capsulectomy can be performed. Once the implants and scar tissue have been removed, a small surgical drain is placed. The incisions are closed using sutures which are dissolvable and covered with dressings. Typically, the patient is wrapped in a compressive ACE wrap dressing around the chest.

Recovery and Aftercare:

Recovery from breast implant removal varies from patient to patient but, patients may experience temporary soreness, swelling, and bruising.  Applying cold compresses and taking prescribed pain medication can help manage these symptoms. Typically, patients will go home from surgery with a compressive ACE wrap and surgical drain which Dr. Landis has the patient keep in place for one week. After one week the drain can usually be removed, and the patient may switch to wearing a soft, supportive bra. The incisions are covered with a tape that is glued on for 3 weeks, and no incisional care is necessary.  It is essential to follow Dr. Landis’s post-operative instructions regarding medication, wound care, and physical activity restrictions.

Breast implant removal patients are instructed to rest at home for one week, refraining from driving or lifting anything greater than 5 lbs. Patients may shower 1 day after the drain is removed, but may not submerge in a bath tub or pool for 6 weeks. After one week a patient may return to normal daily activities and a desk job. Patients with a more physically demanding job may require more time off work. Most patients can resume normal activities, including work and light exercise, at two weeks after surgery. All patients are cleared at 3 weeks to slowly resume exercise activities. Strenuous activities should be avoided for several weeks.

Women should also continue to have annual mammograms after the age of 40. After breast implant removal, the breasts may have changes in shape, volume, or skin elasticity. It is important to have realistic expectations as many women’s breasts will appear deflated and flatter. Dr. Landis will speak with you about your likely appearance after surgery. 

Potential Risks and Complications:

Like any surgical procedure, breast implant removal carries potential risks and complications. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Poor wound healing
  • Changes in breast sensation
  • Changes in breast shape or size
  • Scarring
  • Fluid collection (seroma)

 Dr. Landis will address any concerns or questions you may have before deciding to undergo breast implant removal.

Cost:

Breast implant removal cost includes the surgeon fee, facility fee, anesthesia fee, and any labs or imaging that may be required before or after surgery. The total cost for a breast implant removal ranges from $6,500 -$11,500 and varies if any additional surgery is required. Dr. Landis will formulate a plan specific for each patient and a detailed estimate will be provided. CareCredit is available to our patients, and we’d be happy to discuss this option with you!

Conclusion:

Breast implant removal is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of breast implants. It can be performed for various reasons, including personal preference, implant-related complications, or changes in personal health or aesthetic goals. If you are considering breast implant removal, it is important to consult with a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Landis who can evaluate your individual needs and goals, discuss the potential risks and benefits, and create a personalized treatment plan to achieve the desired results. Many patients elect to have their implants replaced or breasts lifted at the time of breast implant removal. Given the many options available for patients, Dr. Landis will take the time to walk patients through every appropriate option.