Breast Implant Removal or Replacement
Breast Implant Revision Surgery
Women who opt for breast augmentation (breast enlargement) with implants may not be happy with the results for a number of reasons: The implants’ shape, size and/or placement may be problematic, or postsurgical complications, such as leaking, wrinkling, implant displacement, capsular contracture or symmastia, may have occurred. Although considered safe, revision surgery to correct problems with breast implants may be more complicated, cost more and take longer to recover from than the initial surgery.
Reasons for Breast-Implant Revision Surgery
After undergoing breast augmentation with implants, women who become pregnant, or lose significant amounts of weight, may no longer be happy with how their breasts look, and decide to undergo revision surgery. Other reasons for breast implant revision surgery include those below.
Unhappiness with Size of Implants Chosen
Wanting a different implant size is the most common reason that a patient seeks revision surgery. A patient is advised to wait up to 1 year after the initial procedure before undergoing revision surgery; time is needed before swelling subsides and the implants settle, allowing for a true evaluation of the surgical outcome. Exceptions are when there is a pronounced asymmetry between the breasts, or the implant has leaked or ruptured.
During revision surgery, the incisions made during the initial surgery are often used to remove the implants and replace them with either larger or smaller ones. If larger implants are wanted, the pockets in the breasts that hold the implants are made larger. If smaller implants are wanted, the pockets are made smaller using sutures; a mastopexy (breast lift) may also be performed.
Implants Are Leaking
Implants can leak because of age or defect, injury to the breast, or overfilling. Whatever the reason, a leaking implant should be replaced as soon as possible. The incisions made during the initial surgery are often used when replacing the implant.
A leak to a saline implant is immediately noticeable; the implant deflates and the saline is absorbed by the body. When there is a leak in the types of silicone implants used today, because the silicone is designed to hold its shape, leaks are often only discovered during routine mammograms.
Implants Are Causing Complications
There is always a risk complications from a breast-implant procedure. They include wrinkling and rippling of the implant (usually a saline implant); capsular contracture, in which scar tissue forms around the implant, hardening the breast and changing its look and feel; and symmastia, in which the implants drift together and meet in the middle of the chest.
Breast Implant-Related Illness
Breast implant illness encompasses a wide range of symptoms, and is still poorly understood. More detailed information can be found here. Often the recommendation will be for removal of the implants, with a mastopexy (breast lift) and/or fat grafting as desired to improve the breasts’ shape and symmetry.
Breast Implant Revision or Removal Procedure
The specific procedure recommended will depend on a person’s symptoms and personal preferences. This may involve replacing the implant, changing the implant to either above or below the pectoralis major muscle, and/or removal of the implant. With any of these options, liposuction with grafting of the removed fat may help improve the contour, volume, and symmetry of the breasts. This also can improve the overall body contour with more aesthetic proportions between the breasts, waist, and hips.
Even when breast-implant revision surgeries are successful, new implants are still subject to the same problems as the original implants.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- S. Department of Health & Human Services
- S. National Library of Medicine