Celebrity news in recent years has detailed many famous women who have had breast implants removed and fillers dissolved. Chrissy Teigen, Blac Chyna, Melissa Rycroft, and Yolanda Hadid are among those who underwent procedures to reverse cosmetic enhancement. The reasons patients choose breast implant removal vary. Often, their aesthetic preferences have simply changed since their original breast augmentation. Some patients may wish to go back to their natural look, while others may want to exchange their old implants for new ones. Aging implants are susceptible to rupture or leaking. Additionally, some women develop a condition called capsular contracture that makes removal, or explant, necessary.
Breast Implant Maintenance
For your health and safety, it's important to properly maintain your breast implants and become aware of the point where they will need to be removed or replaced. For those with silicone implants, the plastic surgery community recommends receiving regular imaging such as MRIs or ultrasounds about every two years to ensure the integrity of the implants. Issues with saline implants are almost always noticeable without the need for screenings. The FDA has approved most saline and silicone implants for somewhere between 10 to 20 years. However, just because FDA approval has “expired” on implants doesn't mean they need to be removed immediately. If they are intact and taken care of, some women can wait longer for replacement. A surgeon can help you determine whether you are ready for implant removal and replacement.
When is Breast Implant Removal necessary?
While implants are very safe, and the majority of women who undergo breast augmentation never have any issues, there are complications that could require removal.
Occasionally, implants may rupture or leak. A tear or hole might develop due to the age of the implant. With saline implants, a valve may have failed. Saline rupture or leakage is usually obvious because the affected breast will significantly deflate. With silicone implants, a rupture may be less noticeable; regular imaging can help detect problems with this type of implant, but you might also feel some lumpiness or bumps in the breast. While these are usually not emergency situations, it's important to talk to your doctor or plastic surgeon immediately to determine the next steps.
Another condition that could warrant the removal of implants is called capsular contracture. This condition involves scar tissue forming around the implant, causing the breast to become firm, possibly abnormally shaped, and sometimes painful. Degrees of capsular contracture vary. Not all instances of contracture call for removal as long as there is no pain or discomfort and the contracture is not causing cosmetic issues.
The Breast Implant Removal Procedure
Breast implant removal is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes two to three hours to complete. In order to minimize scarring, your plastic surgeon may access your implants using the same incision lines that were created for your initial breast augmentation surgery. The old implants are then removed, along with any scar tissue that may have formed around them. At this point, new implants may be placed. Other patients elect not to replace their implants but may choose to have mastopexy - or a breast lift - to reduce sagging skin and elevate the breasts to a more youthful position on the chest. Your surgeon will work with you to define your surgical goals and perform a procedure that delivers optimal results.
Choosing New Breast Implants
If you undergo implant exchange, you may decide to use the same size or type of implants, or you may want to go in a different direction aesthetically. If your implants are from many years ago, there might be updated options that you would prefer. For patients who prefer a modest increase in volume, fat transfer from another area of the body, also referred to as fat grafting, may be a good option.
Whatever your reasons for seeking a breast implant exchange or removal, it's important to consult with an experienced board-certified Chicago plastic surgeon like Dr. Michael Horn at Michael Horn Plastic Surgery and Med Spa. With over 10,000 breast surgeries performed, he uses the most advanced techniques to provide beautiful outcomes.