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Breast implants were not made to last forever. The typical warranty is for 10 years and, for most women, removal of the implants will become necessary at some point in the future. When it comes to breast implant removal, one of the problems that women may face is deflation or rupture. Other common reasons for breast implant removal include:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Uneven size or placement
  • Undesired size
  • Complications or problems arising from poor surgical techniques during the breast augmentation procedure

Breast Implant Removal – Procedure and Recovery

In most cases of breast implant removal surgery, Dr Sadrian, a board-certified plastic surgeon in La Jolla, will use the same incision sites to remove the implants as were created during the initial surgery. Removal typically takes one to three hours, depending on the original augmentation procedure used and any additional procedures to be performed, such as removal of scar tissue leading to capsular contracture.

The surgery can be performed under general or local anesthesia, and most patients return home the same day and return to work within a few days, unless the work involves vigorous physical activities or motions.

Video: Dr. Sadrian — Allergan Breast Implant Recall

Dr. Sadrian — Allergan Breast Implant Recall

Video: KUSHI — Breast Implant Recall

KUSHI — Breast Implant Recall

What are the most common techniques used for implant explantation?

The capsule surrounding the implants is made from fibrous tissue that tightens around the devices, holding them in place. When complications occur, Dr. Sadrian may need to perform a capsulectomy to help reduce discomfort and restore the appearance of the chest.

  • Total capsulectomy – Here, Dr. Sadrian will remove the implant first, then the capsule. The superficial surface of the pocket is dissected, allowing the doctor to extract all traces of the capsule from the deeper levels of the patient’s chest.
  • Partial capsulectomy – This procedure is less invasive than a total capsulectomy. Dr. Sadrian will remove only certain portions of the capsule, allowing the remaining fragments to be reabsorbed by the body over time.

What is an en bloc capsulectomy?

En bloc capsulectomy is usually the procedure of choice for women dealing with BII and BIA-ALCA. The treatment involves removing the implants and their capsules in a single maneuver rather than piecemeal. This helps to prevent any contamination of the surrounding healthy breast tissue by the implant or capsule materials.

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Potential Complications That Can Require Breast Implant Removal

What is BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma)?

In 2019, the FDA connected textured implants with a cancer of the immune system called BIA-ALCA. The condition is curable in most patients, provided that the breast implants are removed along with the surrounding scar tissue. In advanced cases, the lymphoma can spread to the lymph nodes located near the breasts. BIA-ALCA is extremely rare, occurring in fewer than 10 patients per year.

What is BII (Breast Implant Illness)?

Breast implant illness is a syndrome that involves multiple symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep, memory, and concentration problems, nausea, and chronic pain. BII has been found in patients with all types of implants (smooth, textured, saline, silicone, etc.) These symptoms are typically relieved through the removal of breast implants and the surrounding scar tissue.

Options Following Breast Implant Removal

It is at this point that a decision needs to be made about what to do after the implants are removed. There are three options:

  • Remove the implants and any excess skin so the breasts return to their original size, which may involve some breast reshaping during surgery.
  • Replace the old implants with new implants.
  • Have a mastopexy—a breast lift—as an added procedure for either of the above options.

Implant Replacement

Also called “secondary breast augmentation,” this is usually far less uncomfortable with a shorter downtime than the original surgery, unless it is being performed to correct a problem or complication.

Mastopexy (Breast Lift)

A breast lift is often performed following implant removal when implants are not replaced to compensate for the inevitable sagging and stretched skin tissue. Excess skin is removed, and the natural breast tissue is reshaped. Nipple/areolas can also be resized and repositioned during the mastopexy surgery.

FAQ Implant Removal

Are you considering having your breast implants removed? Read answers to commonly asked questions about what the procedure could entail:

After implant removal, will my breasts look the same as they did before breast augmentation?

Immediately following the implant removal, the breasts ordinarily look deflated but will regain about 10% to 15% of their initial volume in two to three weeks. They will typically not look the same as before the breast augmentation, because the tissue will have been stretched by the implant, and some minor changes may be needed to restore the breast tissue, so it looks firm and lovely. Many patients who have chosen to remove their implants ultimately are satisfied with their end results.

What is implant deflation?

A deflation is a leak in saline implants. The shrinkage becomes obvious in a matter of hours. There is no need to worry, as the body naturally absorbs and sheds the saline, and it does not pose a health risk. Most silicone implants do not deflate when ruptured.

What is an implant rupture?

A rupture is the extrusion of the gel from silicone implants. It can be a slow, gradual process that is virtually unnoticeable without an MRI, as the silicone gel remains within the surgical pocket. If this has occurred, it is important that you undergo revision surgery to remove the existing implant and the leaked silicone gel, and the implant replaced.

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