Removing Your Old Breast Implants
Removing Your Old Breast Implants
In the last several years we have seen more and more women request to have their implants removed for a variety of reasons and not replaced. Some of their complaints and their reasons for removal include:
- My breasts are hard to the touch, distorted looking and sometimes painful.
- They are too big and too heavy.
- My breasts have slipped off the implants, are droopy and don’t look like the used to.
- I have unsightly ripples visible on the surface of my breasts.
- I have saline implants and one has deflated.
- I have been told my silicone gel implants have ruptured.
- I think my implants are making me feel unwell.
- I just don’t want them anymore; I’m am tired of them<./li>
Is Removal of Breast Implants a Big Procedure?
The condition of the breast implant capsule, the position of the nipple and what the patient wants, dictate the nature and complexity of the procedure necessary to permanently remove the breast implants. For the most part, the removal of implants is a straightforward and easy procedure with very little downtime and few complications.
What is a Breast Implant Capsule?
A breast implant capsule is paper thin tissue that forms and completely encases every breast implant within a month or two of implantation. This is the body’s natural response to any implant. Normally, this capsule remains soft and is no problem. For some however, for reasons that are unknown, one or both of the implant capsules contract and thicken around the implants inside them making them feel hard, look distorted, and painful.
This is known as capsular contracture. In extreme cases, the capsule can even become calcified. The condition of the breast implant capsule can make the removal of the implants either easy or very difficult.
The Easy Implant Removal
If the patient’s capsules are normal, the implants feel soft, and the breasts aren’t too droopy or if the patient doesn’t care if her breasts are droopy after removal, the procedure is very easy. We merely incise the patient’s old implant insertion scars, open the breast capsule, remove the implants, inspect the capsule and close the wounds.
We do not remove normal looking implant capsules as there is no reason to do so. After the implants are removed, the capsule will shrivel up and largely disappear over time. There is very little discomfort after the removal and patients can return to light sedentary work in several days.
The Implant Removal with a Breast Lift
If the breasts are droopy as the breast tissue over time has slid off the implants, many patient’s not only want the implants removed but also the nipples restored to a “perkier” more youthful looking position. This is a breast lift (mastopexy) with implant removal. The implants are removed as above, the breasts reshaped, and the nipple/areolar complex moved to a higher more youthful position.
Although this procedure is more complicated and takes longer, the postoperative course is usually very smooth and painless. The downtime is about a week, after which the patient can return to light work. There will be scars around the areola, vertically down the center of the lower portion of the breast and under the breast, a sort of “anchor-shaped” scar. Over time, these scars become largely unnoticeable.
Removing the Implants and the Capsule
For some, particularly those who have had their implants for thirty or more years or multiple implantations, their capsular contracture as described above is well advanced and their diseased capsules have to be removed along with the implants which may have ruptured. As with a removal and lift, the surgery is more complicated than the simple implant removal and more time consuming.
However, the postoperative discomfort is minimal, downtime about a week and the results almost universally pleasing. In fact, those with very diseased capsules often tell us the day following the procedure how much better they feel.
Can Removing My Implants Make Me Feel Better if I Think They are Making Me Feel Unwell?
There are those who ask us to remove their implants because they have a number of symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, joint discomfort, fibromyalgia, vertigo, headaches, etc. for which there is no known cause nor cure. We have removed the implants for a number of these patients with the understanding that there is no scientific evidence to date showing that implants cause these symptoms, nor any guarantee that removing the implants will improve them.
However, while we don’t encourage women to remove their implants for these reasons, we have found that upon doing so, many feel much better, some dramatically so.
Our Satisfaction Rate with Implant Removal
Ironically, we have found that removing unwanted breast implants for whatever reason is one of the most satisfying procedures we perform from the patient perspective. Almost all are delighted with the results and how they feel. Regret is very rare. If after having you implants removed, you change your mind and want your breasts augmented again, it is usually quite an easy procedure to reimplant new ones.