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What Is Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

This is a procedure where the doctor removes your implants that were either inserted for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons, such as after a mastectomy. You can have them replaced with a different type or larger size, or you may want your implant removed without replacement. 

This is an outpatient procedure that takes an hour and a half to three hours, depending on what kind of surgery and/or replacement you want.

Why Remove Breast Implants?

Common reasons for removing breast implants include:

  • a ruptured implant,
  • an exposed implant,
  • an infected implant, or
  • you no longer want your implants. 

Talk to your plastic surgeon about your reasons for removing your breast implants. This will help us determine the best type of surgery for your goals. 

What to Expect during Breast Implant Removal Surgery

Before surgery, you will be placed under general anesthesia or sedation. One of our Board Certified surgeons will make an incision (cut) under your areola, around your areola, or under your breast. 

There are two different ways to remove your implants: 

  1. Your plastic surgeon removes just the implant. 
  2. Your plastic surgeon removes the implant and part or all of the capsule, or layer of scar tissue, that naturally forms around the breast implant inside your body. 

Whether or not to leave or remove your capsule depends on your individual situation. Talk to your doctor to determine the best choice for your body and goals. 

We will remove your implants through the incision. The opening will be closed using adhesives, stitches, or clips. 

After Surgery

We will place surgical drains at the incision sites to help prevent the buildup of excess fluid. Your surgical drains will stay in place for one to three weeks, or until the total daily fluid output measures less than 20-30 cc (cubic centimeters), or about 1½ tablespoons. You’ll wear a surgical bra to help you heal. A surgical bra has no seams or wires and is worn all day and night to provide continual support. Learn more about breast surgery drain care and management.

After being monitored in the recovery area, you will be discharged from the hospital the same day as your surgery. You will need someone to drive you home since you won’t be able to drive after having general anesthesia or sedatives.

Breast Implant Removal and Replacement

You may want to remove your breast implant and replace it with another one during the same surgery. This is a good choice if you plan to change your implant’s position or replace your implants with:

  • a larger size,
  • smaller implants, 
  • a different kind of implant.

Breast Implant Removal and Lift

During this procedure, your breast implant is removed. Then, your skin is tightened and lifted to improve the appearance of your breast. Incisions (cuts) are made in the nipple area and the bottom part of your breast, sometimes in the fold, to tighten the loose skin. A breast lift will add another hour to your overall breast implant removal surgery. 

The recovery period for this procedure is about the same as a breast implant removal. The risks are slightly greater, such as:

  • decreased sensation to the areola,
  • reduced feeling in the nipple,
  • difficulties with breastfeeding, and
  • delayed wound healing.

Breast Implant Removal Recovery

Full breast implant removal recovery will take several weeks. At first, you’ll need to rest and limit physical activity for one to three weeks. This includes no heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, or excessive arm or shoulder movement. If you have surgical drains, you’ll need to empty the drainage fluid and record the amount in a daily log. Infections are rare with breast implant removal surgery, especially if implants are not replaced. However, you should watch for the following signs of infection or complications, including:

  • bleeding,
  • asymmetrical swelling, or
  • drainage that is greater than the amount your doctor said was normal.

Breast Implant Removal Scars

Your doctor will use the incision (cut) from your initial breast implant surgery to remove your breast implants. However, the incision to remove your implants is longer than the one used to insert the implants. Your scars will initially be red and raised after surgery. After a month or two, they will start to flatten and fade to white or pale pink.

What Do Breasts Look Like after Implants Are Removed?

Skin contracts and settles differently for everyone, so it’s difficult to precisely predict what your breasts will look like after your implants are removed. 

However, if you did not opt to have your implants replaced after removal, you can expect your breasts to look: 

  • less full,
  • more deflated, or
  • hollow. 

If several years have passed since your breast implant placement surgery, the natural changes that come with aging will also affect your breasts after implant removal. It’s common for more indentations to be noticeable in the skin over your breasts. 

Breast Implant Removal Cost

If your implants were initially placed for cosmetic reasons, insurance companies don’t usually cover the removal surgery. Even if the implant has a rupture or develops an infection, insurance companies will not cover additional surgeries because the original procedure was optional. 

If your implants were inserted due to breast cancer or another type of medically necessary reconstruction, your insurance should cover the cost of their removal or removal and replacement. 

Schedule an Appointment with a Plastic Surgeon

To schedule an appointment, call us at 801-581-7719 to speak to someone in our plastic surgery department. At your initial consultation, our plastic surgeon will ask why you want your breast implants removed. You will also be asked questions about your medical history and receive a physical chest examination. 

Not everyone is a candidate for breast implant removal, and we want to make sure your body is healthy enough for this procedure. If you are a good candidate for breast implant removal surgery, we’ll work with you to determine the best surgical plan for your goals and needs.

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