If you have undergone or are considering a breast augmentation, you may have questions about the long-term care and longevity of breast implants. Breast implants can be removed, and at times, it is medically necessary to do so. Just as people have a variety of motivations for seeking breast augmentation surgery, there are also many reasons why you might consider breast implant removal. This article highlights some of the most important things you should research and discuss with your doctor when considering breast implant removal.
Who Needs Breast Implant Removal?
Breast implants do not last a lifetime, and while breast augmentation is generally safe when performed by a qualified physician, they carry the risk of certain health issues. According to the FDA, most silicone and saline implants are approved for 10–20 years of use. Though many implants safely last longer than this timeframe, the risk of complications can increase the older your implants are.
One of the most common complications associated with breast implants is capsular contracture, where normal scar tissue surrounding the implant becomes hard and contracted. This can cause pain and discomfort, in addition to altering the shape of the breasts.
Other possible complications include:
- Implant rupture or leak, which necessitates immediate implant removal
- Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
- Calcium buildup within the implant scar tissue that causes hardness and discomfort
- Movement of the implant
Some people also choose to remove their implants for aesthetic reasons as their bodies change. Age, pregnancy, and weight fluctuations can alter the position and appearance of your breasts, and you may no longer like the way your implants look.
What Is the Procedure for Breast Implant Removal?
Before the removal surgery, your doctor will advise you to make lifestyle changes, such as stopping the use of tobacco products and avoiding medicine that increases bleeding risks. During the surgery, an anesthesiologist will administer numbing and sedation medicine. The surgeon will make an incision around the areola or the inframammary fold. He will then remove the implant and scar tissues and close the incision. You will be given instructions on how to take care of the incision as you recover. Occasionally, the surgeon will leave tubes to drain excess fluid. The surgery is usually outpatient, meaning you can go home the same day as your surgery.
Risks of Breast Implant Removal
Like every other surgery, breast implant removal comes with its risks. Although most people have undergone breast implant removal surgery without complications, it is important to consider the risks associated with the procedure. During the initial consultation stages before the surgery, ensure you ask your health service provider about all the risks associated with the surgery. This way, you will be well prepared for any post-surgery complications.
Some of the common side effects of breast implant removal are:
- Breast asymmetry
- Loose skin
- Changes in nipple sensation
It is normal for the shape and appearance of your chest to change as you recover following breast implant removal. Some plastic surgeons recommend a breast lift following implant removal to improve the appearance of the breasts.
What Are the Advantages of Breast Implant Removal?
Most people who undergo breast implant removal surgery do it for medical purposes. In these cases, the benefits of breast implant removal can include relieving discomfort, restoring quality of life, and lessening health risks. If you are seeking breast implant removal because you feel your breasts no longer fit your body shape or size, the procedure can also inspire improved self-confidence.
There are other benefits of breast implant removal that may surprise you. Breast implants can interfere with x-ray images of breast tissue. Without the implants, it may be easier for your doctor to take and interpret your mammogram images.
Understand Your Options
While most breast implants should be removed or replaced eventually, you may decide to remove your breast implants early. Whether you are removing your implants for medical or personal reasons, ensure you are under the care of a professional and experienced surgeon. As with any medical procedure, it is crucial for you to have all the information on the surgery, recovery period, and any associated risks before undergoing breast implant removal surgery.