Every year, hundreds of thousands of women have breast implants placed during breast augmentation or breast reconstruction. While many of these women enjoy their breast surgery results, some require breast implant removal due to complications or personal reasons. Breast implant removal, also called breast explant, removes saline or silicone implants. Our board-certified plastic surgeons at The Plastic Surgery Center offer breast explant in Sacramento and Granite Bay.
Why Women Have Breast Implants Removed
Women may choose to have breast implants removed for a variety of reasons.
Capsular contracture is one of the most common. This occurs when your body forms scar tissue around the breast implant after breast augmentation or reconstruction. That scarring is typically soft but may harden and constrict the implant, causing discomfort and visible distortions.
Another common reason for breast explant surgery is implant rupture. The outer shell of the implant is made of durable silicone but may leak or rupture, spilling the saline (sterile salt water) or cohesive silicone gel into the scar capsule. An implant rupture requires breast explant to remove or exchange the affected shell.
Calcium buildup around the implant is another reason for breast implant removal.
BIA-ALCL (breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma) is a type of cancer linked to textured implants. This rare cancer may develop in the scar capsule around the breast implant and requires implant removal.
Some women may choose to remove their implants to avoid future procedures. Breast implants are not lifelong medical devices. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, patients should exchange their implants every 10 to 15 years.
Sometimes, an implant can move or shift in place, and breast implant removal (or breast revision surgery) can correct the implant’s position and appearance.
Other reasons for breast implants include natural aging, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weight gain, all of which can impact the appearance of breast implants in the chest. Women may choose to remove or replace their implants to address these changes and may combine the procedure with a breast lift.
Most women with breast implant complications or personal preferences can qualify for breast explant surgery. However, you must be in good physical health, at a stable weight, and a nonsmoker. It’s best to have realistic expectations because your breasts will look different after the procedure and may appear deflated or droopy. Combining breast implant removal with breast lift, or mastopexy, can improve results.
Breast explant is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia or with IV sedation. One of our board-certified plastic surgeons will form an incision in the inframammary fold under the breasts or around the areolas. Surgical techniques vary depending on the reason for removal.
Generally, the breast implant and scar capsule are removed. One method is the en bloc capsulectomy, which removes the implant and scar tissue as a complete piece, but some surgeons may leave the scar tissue in place. Once the breast implants are removed, one of our plastic surgeons will replace the implants or reshape the remaining breast tissue.
Your breasts may appear flatter or sit lower on your chest because the skin stretches to accommodate breast implants. You may have some skin indentions or tissue irregularities, but fat grafting or mastopexy can address these cosmetic concerns.
Our doctors will use gauze, bandages, and a support bra to dress the incisions and breasts after breast explant. Some women may have surgical drains to drain the excess serous fluid or blood that can collect after surgery, but these thin tubes under the skin are temporary (typically 10 days or longer). The initial healing period is about two weeks, but you will have activity restrictions for up to six weeks.
The Plastic Surgery Center will provide you with detailed instructions for wound care, such as wearing the support bra or compression garment 24/7 for several weeks and using medications for discomfort. Following these directions ensures optimal results.
Your results depend on the size of your implants, whether you have the implants replaced, and if you combine breast explant with breast lift. Complete healing may take up to one year, but your results are visible after six to eight weeks when much of the swelling is gone.
If you require or desire breast implant removal, contact The Plastic Surgery Center to schedule a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons. Call our Sacramento, California office at (916) 929-1833 or our Granite Bay, California office at (916) 773-5559.