Breast implant removal is not that uncommon – although we already know that breast implants in general are not made to last forever.

When you were thinking about getting breast augmentation surgery, you probably haven’t thought that there might come a time when you’ll need to replace them – either because you don’t like your augmented look anymore, or because there is some other issue at hand. 

The reason behind breast implant removal can be breast cancer diagnosis, complications like capsular contraction, or some personal lifestyle changes. Whatever the reason may be, and whether or not the breast implant trend is inflating – the decision to remove them is your own, and here is everything you need to know about the process itself.

The basics – what does breast implant removal surgery imply?

Simply put – a breast implant removal surgery is the kind of cosmetic procedure that serves to reverse the effects of breast augmentation.

This procedure is used to remove breast implants entirely, or to revise the shape and size of them.

Usually, once a patient succumbs to breast augmentation procedure, that means they will ultimately need a revision procedure, which includes: breast implant removal and replacement with others, repositioning of the existing implants and breast implant removal without replacement. 

Now, what is your revision surgery going to look like depends on whether or not you had some sort of complication with your implants – infection or capsular contracture, or other reasons such as – calcium build-up, infection and/or bleeding, development of necrosis around the breast implant.

If you happen to have any of those, chances are your surgeon will recommend breast implant removal.

Reasons for breast implant removal surgery explained

As we already said, there is a number of reasons for a patient to have their implants removed, some of them more complicated than others, regarding general health or involving surgical complications.

For example, if you have capsular contracture or your breasts are causing you pain, the wisest choice would be to have breast implants removed and not replaced. This is a usual recommendation for women with health concerns, while some other women might have fitness concerns because their oversized breasts are interfering with their active lifestyle. 

Another reason for breast implant removal can be a personal choice, due to desire to reclaim a more natural figure. The important thing to understand is that your breast implants can be removed and not replaced only.

Breast implant removal and replacement – difference

Believe it or not – it’s a common misconception. 

Breast implant removal indicates that breast implants are permanently removed, instead of replaced with others. The reason why it’s usually equated is because with most revisionary surgeries, the implants are exchanged for newer ones, or the ones made from a different material type – silicone or saline

When it comes to breast implant explant – the implants are removed, and that procedure is followed by the breast reconstruction, in order to recreate the natural look from before. 

Breast explant surgery course

Breast explant surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and can take up to 2 or 3 hours to complete. Depending on the speed of your recovery, you will probably be able to go home the same day. 

These are the 3 most common breast explant techniques: 

  1. Breast implant removal – Incisions are made at the same place where the surgery was performed initially, but if the cause of the surgery is capsular contracture, the hardened capsules will be removed in order to speed up the healing process.
  2. Breast explant and lift – It is common for a breast lift to be performed at the same time with breast explant, especially if your breast skin is stretched or sagged. This technique can also include areola resizing in order to better fit your breast shape.
  3. Breast implant deflation – Breast implant deflation is done is case of saline implants, which can be done without undergoing surgery and under the local anesthesia. Afterwards, depending on the results of the breast deflation, the process will include either a breast lift or a breast implant replacement.

Breast explant summary: 

  • A breast lift may be required together with the breast explant surgery, in order to address the skin that has been stretched. 
  • After breast removal procedure, it is common to experience soreness and discomfort, but usually on a smaller scale than after breast augmentation procedure. 
  • Keep in mind that in some cases, a breast explant surgery can be more complicated than breast implant replacement, since it can be more prone to infection and bleeding.

Complications and specific risks of breast implant removal you should be prepared for

It goes without saying that if you choose a board certified surgeon, like our Dr. Ress, the possible and risks will be kept to a minimum. However, some of them can include: 

  • Thick and red scars that can be present for years after surgery
  • Breast deformity or sagging
  • Breast becoming less sensitive, which is something that can last up to 6 months
  • Numbness of the entire breast area

Breast implant removal recovery

Most surgeons agree on the notion that breast implant removal recovery is far smoother than the breast augmentation recovery, however, it still very much depends and varies from person to person.

In fact, if you opted for a breast lift together with the breast implant removal, than you can expect that your breast feel tight and heavy for a few weeks. In general, most women find they are able to work again 5 days after breast implant removal surgery, while experiencing minimal discomfort. 

However, if you had your breast implants removed due to some health complication, such as capsular contracture, you can expect to feel more discomfort and for recovery to last longer.

Speaking about breast explant scars – they typically heal very quickly, but they do heal in stages that can take 3 to 4 months. They will fade, but never entirely. As for your own physical activity, you will have to avoid lifting anything over 5 kg and excessive exercising for the 6 weeks after breast implant removal surgery. 

That said, even after that period of time, your breasts will still need to settle into their new position. During this time, it is mandatory to follow your surgeon’s instructions to avoid certain activities, wear compression garments  and take pain medications as prescribed. 

Breasts after implant removal

The initial breast removal surgery will result in deflated looking breasts, and it can take two or three weeks for them to regain their volume. This is expected to happen only if you haven’t done a breast lift too. 

It is important to note that your breasts will not look the same as before you’ve decided to enlarge them. This happens due to breast weight that caused stretching of the breast tissue and changes in the rib cage area. 

The breast tissue can be tightened and adjusted, but will not naturally bounce back to the way it was before, which is why sometimes breast implant explant revision is necessary. This procedure includes removing the scar tissue and reshaping the breasts to look more full and lifted, recapturing a more natural look that you will be pleased with.

In the end, whatever the reason for breast implant removal surgery, make sure that you do it at a reputable clinic and reputable surgeon, who will take into the account all possible risks and your personal desires and when it comes to reclaiming your natural body shape.

Dr. Andrew Ress, M.D.

Dr. Andrew M. Ress, a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 25 years of experience, practices in Boca Raton, Florida. As the founder of [liv]® Plastic Surgery, he specializes in facial plastic surgery and body contouring. Dr. Ress is also a pioneer in skin health, introducing the [liv]® AI SkinScreen, an advanced AI-powered tool for proactive skin cancer screening. Educated at Cornell University and the University of Miami, with residencies at the Mayo Clinic and Indiana University, Dr. Ress is committed to excellence and innovation. Recognized as one of Boca Raton’s Best Cosmetic Surgeons, he is dedicated to patient-centric care and cutting-edge technology.