Breast augmentation surgery has helped millions of women feel more confident. However, every year, a number of women choose to have their breast implants removed in a procedure called breast implant removal, or explantation. Chrissy Teigen was a high-profile example earlier this year, removing her implants for a very common reason: she simply no longer wanted augmented breasts.
While it may sound like a relatively straightforward surgery compared with breast augmentation, breast implant removal is a highly individualized procedure that requires a careful approach based on your anatomy, the state of your implants, and your goals for your breasts after surgery. Today, we will discuss what you can expect if you decide to remove your implants, and we’ll answer some common questions about life after implants.
Why do some women get their implants removed?
At some point in their lives after breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery, a percentage of women choose to have their breast implants removed. The decision to remove your breast implants may come after many happy years with implants. Reasons vary, and may include a change in aesthetic appearance, discomfort, scar tissue (known as capsular contracture), or concerns about overall health.
There is no wrong reason if removal is what you desire. The majority of women we see who want their implants removed are looking for an aesthetic change in alignment with their current lifestyle or their changing tastes.
What will my breasts look like after implant removal?
The look of your results after breast implant removal will depend on many factors. While some women are likely to have results fairly similar to their pre-augmentation look, others may benefit from a breast lift and/or fat transfer to achieve the look they want after removal.
You may be left with some degree of breast ptosis, or sagging, after breast implant removal if any of the following is true:
- Your implants have been in place through weight changes or childbearing
- Your breast tissue has been weighed down by heavier implants
- Your skin has lost some elasticity with age
- You had relatively large breasts before breast augmentation
In these cases, a breast lift (mastopexy) is often recommended in conjunction with your explantation surgery to restore your breast shape and nipple position and to place the breasts higher on the chest wall.
You are likely to see a result very similar to the state of your breasts before augmentation and may not need a breast lift if you identify with the following:
- It has been just a few years since your implants were placed
- You have not had children or significant weight changes
- Your implants are modestly sized
- You had smaller breasts before augmentation
- Your skin has good elasticity
It’s okay if you’re not sure about whether or not you will need a breast lift
For those who expect some sagging after removal, but are unsure if a breast lift will be necessary, you may choose to wait and see the final results of your breast implant removal before deciding whether to undergo a breast lift. Some women are surprised at how well their breast tissue “bounces back” over time.
Alternatively, you may address milder sagging with fat transfer, or fat grafting, in which we use liposuction to remove fat from one area of the body (usually the hips, abdomen, or flanks) and re-inject the fat into the breasts. This allows us to personalize your results and restore modest volume without the scars from a breast lift procedure, and can be performed at the time of breast implant removal or later on.
What happens during breast implant removal surgery?
In most cases, breast implants are removed through the same incisions used when they were placed, such as those along the inframammary fold. If you are experiencing no complications, removal may be a fairly straightforward procedure.
However, if you are experiencing capsular contracture (scar tissue), for instance, you may need a more involved procedure. This could include a capsulectomy, partial capsulectomy, or total capsulectomy (en-bloc removal of the old implants and surrounding capsule/scar tissue).
Additionally, some patients may wish to have a breast lift or fat transfer at the same time as the breast implant removal procedure. When you meet for your in-person consultation, Dr. Basu will customize a treatment plan for you.
What is the recovery like after breast implant removal?
Because the procedure varies from person to person, the recovery time needed also varies. Some patients require just 2-3 days off work, while others may need about a week to rest. Most patients will need to avoid lifting heavy items, exercising, and other strenuous activity for 3-4 weeks to allow the incisions time to heal.
What if I don’t like the shape of my breasts after implant removal?
Your breasts will need time to heal from breast implant removal surgery before your results are final. If you are still unhappy with your breasts after several months, both breast lift and fat transfer can reshape the breasts or add natural-looking contour.
What if I want to get implants again later?
It is safe to get breast implants again after you have healed from your breast implant removal procedure. Your healing time after surgery may vary depending on which technique was used for your breast implant removal procedure, but most patients will require 3-6 months before they are ready to undergo another procedure.
Will I be able to breastfeed after breast implant removal?
Yes, you should be able to breastfeed after breast implant removal surgery. If you are concerned about protecting your ability to breastfeed after surgery, please talk to Dr. Basu about this in your consultation. In most cases, we use inframammary incisions during breast implant removal, and this incision placement usually does not disrupt your ability to successfully breastfeed.
Are mammograms different after implant removal?
After breast implant removal, the mammogram technician should no longer need to take special views of your breasts. In most cases, this means that mammograms are a straightforward process after explantation. If you had routine mammograms before breast augmentation, they will be similar to how they were then. If you have had any difficulty with the scans in the past for reasons unrelated to your implants, be sure to talk with your doctor.
Choose your Houston breast implant removal surgeon carefully
To get a beautiful result from your breast implant removal procedure, the most important decision you make is your surgeon. They will both recommend the best procedure for your unique anatomy and be responsible for your safety during surgery, so choose a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic breast surgery.
For those in the Houston and Cypress area, Dr. C. Bob Basu is a board certified plastic surgeon and authority on the subject, having recently published an up-to-date textbook on cosmetic breast surgery. Under the care of such a specialist, you can rest assured that your breast surgery will be completed using the safest practices and most meticulous techniques to deliver natural-looking results.
Dr. Basu will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options for breast implant surgery. Fill out our online contact form or call Basu Aesthetics + Plastic Surgery at (713) 799-2278.