Breast implant removal involves removal of previously placed saline or silicone implants. Implants are removed for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:
The patient may have gained weight, changed her lifestyle or simply does not desire to have breast implants anymore. In these cases, implants are removed through a small incision in the breast fold, often times under local anesthesia. Recovery time is minimal.
After any breast implant, a layer of protective scar tissue is formed around the implant, called a capsule. In a small subgroup of women, the capsule can harden extensively, causing discomfort and distortion of the implant. In the setting of capsular contracture, implant removal or implant exchange can be considered along with removal of the capsule, known as a capsulectomy. If capsulectomy is performed, then recovery time is slightly longer.
On rare occasions, breast implants can develop a tear or hole leading to rupture. Implant rupture is an indication for implant removal. Rupture rates are variable based on the type of implant and manufacturer. Silicone implant rupture can be diagnosed using an MRI or an ultrasound while saline implant rupture is obvious during a physical exam.
Breast Implant Illness (BII):
“Breast Implant Illness” is characterized by a non-specific and generalized constellation of symptoms. These can include malaise, fatigue, fibromyalgia, headache or other autoimmune-like complaints potentially caused by a breast implant. Currently there is no diagnostic test for BII. Many patients report an improvement in symptoms after implant removal. One key factor in treating these patients, is proper removal of the capsule. The implant is removed via an en bloc capsulectomy approach, meaning the capsule and implant are removed together. This ensures complete removal of the entire capsule. Patients have drains placed and recovery time is 3-4 weeks. This procedure can be combined with fat grafting and/or breast lift at the same time or in a staged fashion.
Safe & Reliable
Breast implant removal is a safe and reliable procedure that can be done in an outpatient setting. Prior to breast explantation surgery, there are two important considerations:
- Breast explantation will change the appearance of the breast and procedures such as mastopexy (breast lift) and/or fat grafting should be considered as a single or second stage adjunct.
- It is important to determine how the breast capsule (see above) will be managed during surgery. While capsule removal is not always necessary, it is highly recommended in cases of capsular contracture, ruptured silicone implant and BII.