Aesthetic Breast Reconstruction after Breast Implant Removal
Though you probably never thought you would want or need to have your implants removed when you decided to have augmentation surgery, thousands of women a year seek treatment for that specific reason. Reasons for wanting your breast implants removed can include discomfort, the desire to have a different breast size, no longer happy with the look and feel, or complications. No matter what your reason for seeking explant surgery, our surgeons will work with you to determine the best procedure to achieve an aesthetically pleasing outcome for your new breasts.
Implant Removal Process
Being informed about the implant removal process can help you plan for treatment and ultimately decide if this is an option you’d like to pursue. Since you have already undergone a breast augmentation, you are already aware of what breast surgery involves in general; the implant removal process does not deviate much from your original implant treatment in terms of what you can expect as a patient.
Typically taking around an hour to perform, the surgery involves general anesthesia to provide maximum comfort. During the surgery, our surgeons will first either cut through or remove the scar tissue (called the capsule) that has formed around the implant. Next, we will remove the implant itself. If the implant is saline-filled, it is sometimes deflated before removal. Incisions are usually made in the same place as they were originally so additional scarring is not created.
In some cases, our surgeons may remove the entire capsule, which is called a capsulectomy. This may occur when a larger implant is being placed, if a new implant of a different shape or type is being added, or if the implants are simply being removed.
Once the implant is removed, the next step in the surgery will depend on what you and your surgeon have decided during your consultation for reconstruction. This discussion may include whether you’d like to increase volume with fat transfer or if a lift would help meet your aesthetic goals.
Once your implants are removed, it’s likely that your natural breast tissue will appear more relaxed than before. This can be caused by the natural aging process as well as the prolonged use of large implants. In these cases, it’s often the best choice to have a breast lift after the implants have been removed. With this procedure, our surgeons can remove excess skin and reshape the remaining tissue to ensure your natural breasts sit at the desired position on the chest wall. The nipple and areola will be moved to a higher position and, if needed, the areola can be reduced in size. Liposuction may also be needed to improve the contour of your newly lifted breasts.
If you would like to maintain a larger breast size than your natural tissue provides but don’t want to do so with implants, there is another option. Fat grafting involves taking fat from one area of the body where there is an excess—such as the buttocks, thighs, or abdomen—and transplanting it to an area that needs more volume, such as the breasts.
Harvesting and grafting fat is completed in the same surgery; our team at HKB often recommends fat transfer breast augmentation for patients who no longer want implants but are still looking for a natural-looking improvement in volume. The results you can achieve with fat transfer are dependent on whether enough excess fat exists in other areas of the body, as well as how much of the fat is naturally absorbed after grafting. If the breasts still sag or droop after fat grafting, a breast lift may also be recommended.
The Importance of Having Breast Reconstruction Completed by an Expert
Breast implantation removal and reconstruction are a delicate process and should only be performed by board-certified plastic surgeons who have years of experience. At HKB, Drs. Hunstad, Kortesis, and Bharti are all board-certified plastic surgeons with stellar reputations and hundreds of breast surgeries performed. No matter which surgeon performs your procedure, you will receive the highest patient care and individualized attention.
If you plan to have your breast implants removed, it’s important to realize that other work may be necessary to ensure your breasts have the right shape and amount of fullness you were hoping for. When you consult with the surgeons at HKB, you will be able to ask questions about the different types of reconstruction as well as learn which options are best for you depending on your desired results. Book your consultation today to learn more!
Recovering from Removal and Reconstruction
Your amount of downtime and recovery will be dependent on what type of reconstruction you choose. The average amount of time a patient takes off work after breast surgery is one week. During this time, you’ll experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort and will wear a support bra to aid healing. You should have a friend or family member available to drive you to and from surgery and stay with you for a few days following surgery. Avoiding strenuous exercise or anything that may strain your upper body is recommended for at least a month post-surgery, and women are urged to sleep on their backs until advised otherwise.
Breast Implant Removal and Reconstruction FAQs
We know that preparing for breast surgery usually means questions. We encourage all potential patients to schedule a consultation so they can receive personalized answers to their breast implant removal questions. Find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about breast implant removal below.
Breast implant removal is a highly personalized decision, one that only the patient can make. Common reasons for choosing breast implant removal include capsular contracture, implant rupture or leak, no longer want implants, and breast implant pain.
Breast augmentation has very high patient satisfaction rates. Modern breast implants are strong, long-lasting, and durable. In our practice, we find that breast implant removal rates are relatively low and that many women that choose the surgery have enjoyed their implants for many years prior to removal.
We love keeping in touch with our plastic surgery patients long after their initial surgery. If you’re worried about a problem with your breast implants, give your plastic surgeon a call and head into their office for a visit. Some breast implant complications will require testing or imaging to diagnose. Other issues are easy to spot externally. For example, a leaky saline implant will cause the breast to deflate and capsular contracture will cause breast hardening, and in severe cases, changes to breast shape.
Most insurance companies do not cover breast implant removal. If your implants are still under warranty, you may be eligible for reimbursement of some expenses from the breast implant manufacturer. Payment and financing options are available to help you pay for your procedure.
Breast implants add volume to the breasts. To accommodate this volume, the skin and breast tissues will stretch out. When an implant is removed, the skin and breast tissues are unlikely to contract to their original shape and size. The breasts may appear deflated. Breast reconstruction after implant removal reshapes the breasts. It eliminates the sagging and deflation that is so common after breast implant removal. Generally, the larger the breast implants, the more dramatic the effects on breast shape after removal.
If you’re experiencing complications with your breast implants or are no longer happy with your breast appearance, contact your plastic surgeon and ask about your options for implant removal, also called explant surgery. The best candidates for this procedure do not smoke, are in good health, and are dissatisfied with their breast implants. Our plastic surgeons will help you decide if you’re a good candidate at your plastic surgery consultation.
Learn more about your options for explant surgery by calling 704-659-9000 and scheduling a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons.