Sometimes women who have had breast implants opt to have them removed for various reasons. Sometimes it’s just to make room for new, larger or smaller implants. Other times, they are removed due to complications including:
- Deflation or rupture
- Shifting or sagging
- Excess scar tissue surrounding the implant (capsular contracture)
- Formation of calcium deposits
- Asymmetry in breast size or shape
- Implant wrinkling
- Diagnosis of breast cancer
So what actually happens?
Breast implant removal varies due to an individual’s circumstances.
Replacing existing implants with ones of a different size is typically not complicated. The implant pocket will be reopened, the old implant will be removed and replaced.
If implant removal surgery is due to problems such as capsular contracture, the procedure can be a little more complicated. This is a condition where scar tissue has formed around the implant and contracts, squeezing the implant into a spherical entity. It can make the breast look like a baseball and can be very painful as well. Capsular contracture can be treated without removing the implant, but sometimes patients choose to have it removed.
If implant removal surgery is due to replace a broken or leaking implant, the procedure varies depending on the material. A saline implant is usually partially or fully drained and then easily extracted. In the case of a leaky silicone implant, the procedure can take much longer. The silicone gel that has gotten loose around the implant, may have hardened – removal can be a more challenging process.
Possible Complications of Breast Implant Removal
As with any surgical procedure, there are possible risks and complications associated with breast implant removal. Your doctor will go over all of this with you prior to surgery. Possible risks include, but are not limited to the following:
- Excessive bleeding
- Poorly healed incisions
- Unattractive scarring
- Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
- Loss of nipple sensation
- Loose skin
What about after surgery?
Recovery from breast implant removal surgery is pretty quick. Patients may experience minor discomfort, swelling and bruising for a few weeks following the procedure. Most patients are able to return to everyday activity within a week and full activity within two to three weeks following the procedure. A full recovery can take a few months.