Breast Implant Removal
For many women, breast augmentation is an important step in enhancing their appearance and self-image. After living with breast implants for many years, some women decide to have their breast implants removed. This decision may be based on a perceived health benefit from breast implant removal. Other women wish to treat capsular contracture or implant malposition. Some women, as they age, find that their breasts are simply too large.
Breast implant removal can be combined with a mastopexy (breast lift) procedure to enhance the cosmetic result after implant removal. "Breast Implant Illness" has been reported by a small minority of women who have breast implants. Numerous studies over the years performed by multiple medical specialties and scientists have failed to show any link between breast implants and these reported symptoms that some term "Breast Implant Illness." However, we do sometimes encounter patients who perceive symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, cognitive decline, skin rashes and other problems that they attribute to being caused by their breast implants. There is very little clinical data to support this correlation. Anecdotally, however, some of our breast implant removal patients have noted improvement in these problems after their explantation procedures.
During your pre-operative meetings, the surgeons at Sound Plastic Surgery take time to review your concerns and understand your goals for breast implant removal. The discussion will focus on how breast implant removal can be a benefit to you and your health. The surgeons will discuss with surgical methods and anesthesia used for these procedures. If a breast lift is desired, this option will also be discussed. For some breast implant patients with 'above muscle' implants and very thin breast tissues, breast implant removal and breast lift is done in two separate procedures. In most other patients, the removal and lift can be combined into one surgery. The risks and benefits of breast implant removal along with a realistic discussion of the health benefits of implant removal will also take place.
Performed as an outpatient basis, the one to two hour procedure requires general anesthesia by a board-certified anesthesiologist. Our surgeons can typically re-use a previous breast augmentation surgical scar, with a few specific exceptions. En bloc capsulectomy is performed to remove the thickened breast implant capsules, if there is one. Most patients have very thin breast implant capsules and capsulectomy is not required. A surgical drain is left in place and is removed a few days after surgery. Patient are fitted with a supportive bra which is worn until the surgical drains are removed.
Patients can expect to have soreness and mild swelling after the operation. It is not uncommon to have some changes in sensation in the immediate post-operative period and this resolves with time. Individual results will vary, however recovery is often quicker than many expect, and many patients return to most of their normal activities within just a few days. The surgical drain is removed a few days after surgery. Breast lift patients have surgical tape left in place for a couple of weeks to improve surgical scar quality.
Complications following breast implant removal surgery in the post-operative period are uncommon. Some complications that may occur include infection, changes in nipple sensation, swelling of the breast tissues, thinning of the breast tissues, and asymmetry. It typically takes several months for breast skin to recover from the stretching induced by breast implants.