There are many reasons a woman might opt to remove her breast implants. Breast implant removal is an option if a woman finds that she wants to change her look or has developed uncomfortable or concerning symptoms. Is it time for you to have your implants removed? In Wellington, Florida, the professionals at Palms Wellington Plastic Surgery want you to have all the information you need to make this important decision.
Breast Implant Removal: Is It for You?
Breast augmentation surgery is very common. In 2015, about 400,000 women underwent implant surgery either for breast size augmentation or for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. But that same year, more than 42,000 women also underwent breast implant removal surgery. Many women initially get breast implants to please a partner, but most women remove their implants to please themselves.
Changing Styles and Trends
Recent decades have seen a shift in fashion and body-image trends. These days a natural look is more popular than the large cup size body type that trended in the past. Women would rather look trim and fit than busty. It is increasingly difficult to find clothes to fit a fuller breast size, too. Many women who have had breast implants over the past 20 years report feeling self-conscious about their bodies today.
Recently, several celebrities have publicly spoken about their decision to have their implants removed. Heather Morris of Glee told media outlets that her implants were uncomfortable and made it hard for her to be as active as she wanted. MTV star Heidi Montag reported that her enlarged breasts were too heavy for her back and neck. Sharon Osborne decided to remove her implants because it was discovered that one was leaking.
If You Are Experiencing Difficulty
There are a few reasons that breast implant removal might be a necessity rather than an option. If the implant has been damaged or has started leaking, your doctor will want to remove and/or replace the implant. Sometimes implants become misshapen, uncomfortable or even cold or painful. If this is your case, consult with a qualified surgeon to discuss removal.
Some women with implants develop breast capsular contracture, which is a rare but natural immune system response to an artificial prosthesis such as a breast implant. Capsular contraction can be painful or could distort the shape of the implant or the breast containing it. This condition calls for implant removal.
Some women become concerned about the long-term effects of having an artificial prosthesis in their bodies, especially in their delicate breast tissue. And many women feel tired of the necessary maintenance of their implants and the difficulties they cause with other procedures such as mammograms.
There are several other situations in which a woman might choose to have her implants removed.
Breast implants usually last from 10 to 25 years. They could remain intact and in perfect form for longer than that, but they are not guaranteed to last a lifetime. Depending upon when you first got your implants, they will probably need to be replaced at some point in your life. Some women might choose to remove rather than replace their implants as the implants reach the limits of their usefulness.
Although many women continue to be very satisfied by the appearance of their implants, priorities change over time, and some women choose to remove their breast implants because they no longer like the look of their enhanced breasts. Enlarged breasts may also feel too heavy over time. Some women report that their implanted breasts feel cold or numb.
Other women find that because of some significant body change—like pregnancy, having gained or lost a lot of weight, or natural aging—that they want to remove their breast implants. The implants may not match the overall look of your changed body.
Finally, breast implants require maintenance beyond normal check-ups and can make normal breast cancer screening more difficult. As your breast implants age, it may be necessary to evaluate them through an MRI, which can be expensive and inconvenient. Some women want their implants removed so that they have more confidence in their preventative screenings, like mammograms or manual breast exams.
How Is It Done?
Breast implant removal is, in most cases, a simple procedure. It can be a more difficult and expensive surgery if there are complications associated with the implants. Sometimes the surgery is referred to as an explant or explantation surgery.
The surgeon will usually enter the breast through the same incision lines that were used to install the implants. This minimizes scarring. If your implants were put in through your armpit, however, the surgeon will not be able to use the same incision site. He or she will enter the breast through another incision; usually under the breast.
The surgeon will remove both the implant and at least some scar tissue that has formed around it, called the capsules. Capsules are scar tissue that normally forms around foreign bodies. Your surgeon will decide whether to remove the implant first, by separating it from the capsules, or to remove the capsules and the implant at the same time (referred to as “en bloc”) If your surgeon removes the implant by itself first, he or she may then go back in and remove some or all the capsulated scar tissue from your breast.
If the capsule layer is very thin, the surgeon may decide to leave it intact in your breast after removing the implant. It is more difficult to remove a thin layer of scar tissue. The remaining layer of scar tissue will be broken down and absorbed by the body over time.
Discuss the removal of the capsules with your surgeon. Sometimes this is a simple matter. In other cases, especially if you have submuscular implants, it may be more complicated. There is no evidence of any risk to the patient in leaving some of this scar tissue intact unless the tissue was impacted by leakage from the breast implant.
Breast implant removal surgery can be done under general anesthesia or local anesthesia. With local anesthesia, only the breast is numbed. Typically, local anesthesia is the choice if the surgeon will be leaving some or all of the capsules, or scar tissue, in the breast.
Most surgeons prefer to use general anesthesia for breast implant removal surgery. Discuss anesthesia with your doctor especially if you are sensitive or have had adverse reactions to anesthesia in the past.
What Can I Expect After My Breast Implant Removal?
Your incision will be dressed with bandages and, depending upon your particular circumstances, you may have drains installed to drain accumulating fluid. You will need to use a support bra, a surgical garment or a compression bandage over your breasts for at least a few days.
Most patients can go home the same day or the next day after their procedure. Plan to have someone drive you home and help you out around the house for a day or two. Bring a pillow to cushion your surgical site from the seatbelt in the car on the way home.
Your surgeon will give you post-operative instructions. Be sure to follow them closely. You will get instructions about how to care for the incision site, any medication to take or to apply locally, warning signs to look for in the days after your surgery and how and when to follow up with the surgeon.
How Long Is Recovery?
Walk as soon as possible after your procedure. Don’t plan on driving until you have full motion in your arms. You will be able to bathe as soon as your stitches are removed or dissolve. You won’t be able to sleep on your stomach for about 6 weeks, and you won’t be able to wear an under-wire bra for that healing period either.
Healing will be evident within a month and will probably be completed within 6 weeks. You can typically go back to work in 5 to 7 days and resume your normal exercise or more strenuous regime after 6 weeks. If you see any discoloration, it should go away in 4 to 6 weeks. And your scars will fade over the 6 months after your procedure.
What Should I Watch for?
Call your doctor if you see the post-operative swelling increase or if you see redness along the incision. If your pain is not relieved by the prescribed medication, make sure you call.
It may take up to a full year before you will see the final result of your breast implant removal. At first, your breasts will be flatter than they were with the implants and may look dimpled or asymmetrical. Your breast tissue will gradually improve now that it is not constricted by the implants, and your loose skin will gradually tighten up. Some doctors advise massage to help with the recovery of your breast area.
Many women get a breast lift at the same time that they have their implants removed. Talk to your surgeon about what this would mean for you.
What to Ask Before
Make sure to ask your doctor about the specifics of your procedure. Where will you be for your initial recovery? What medications will your surgeon prescribe? Does the surgeon intend to use drains after the procedure? When can you expect to go home? When does the surgeon want to see you for a follow-up visit?
Costs and Insurance
If you are paying out-of-pocket for your implant removal, you can expect to pay between $5000 and $10,000 for the costs of the surgeon, the facility where the surgery takes place, the anesthesiologist and other incidental expenses.
Most insurance policies do not cover cosmetic surgery, and the removal of your breast implants is considered cosmetic, elective surgery. In fact, in some states insurance companies will not even cover women who have breast implants. You may be able to purchase an insurance policy written especially for women with implants. Study your policy documents carefully to see what is covered and what is not.
There are many issues to consider in the decision about whether to remove your breast implants. If you are experiencing difficulties with the implants, consult with a physician right away to discuss your options. If you are ready for a change and want a more natural look, you’ll want to consider how this procedure can fit into your life.
If you are considering breast implant removal in Wellington, Florida, call our Palms Wellington Plastic Surgery office to book your consultation. Our professional staff is here to answer your questions and address your concerns. We want you to be healthy and happy in your body. We can help you decide if this procedure is right for you.