Breast Implant Exchange and Removal

Breast Implant Exchange

Breast implants may have to be replaced at some point. Below are some of the reasons women exchange their implants:

  • Leak or Rupture: Breast implants can leak and sometimes rupture. If a saline implant leaks or ruptures the patient usually knows right away, the deflation is evident. To determine a ruptured or leaking silicone implant, the patient must have an MRI to be absolutely sure.
  • Older Silicone Implants: Silicone implants from the 1980’s and the early 1990’s are usually replaced with newer implants. The older silicone implants were not the quality of the implants today and were prone to leaking.
  • Size Change: Some women find with age, life style changes or body changes after having children, that their implant size is not what they once wanted. So they exchange their implant to a smaller or larger size.
  • Capsular Contracture: Once you have had breast augmentation surgery you are at risk for what is called capsular contracture. This is the formation of excess scar tissue that can becomes hard and can be uncomfortable. Some women elect to replace their implants so that the scar tissue can be removed.

Saline breast implants can usually be exchanged in the office with local anesthetic, Pronox (laughing gas) and oral sedation. Silicone gel implants must be exchanged at the out-patient surgery center under general anesthesia. If a patient needs a capsulectomy (removal of scar tissue called capsular contracture) this must also be done at the surgery center.

Breast Implant Removal

Ten percent of women who undergo breast augmentation surgery decide to have their implants removed and not replaced. Women have their implants removed for many reasons. Some of these are deflation, asymmetry, rippling, capsular contracture (hard scar tissue), breast cancer diagnosis or they simply do not want them anymore.

Breast implant removal may or may not involve having a breast lift. Many women decide to have a breast lift with the removal to tighten the skin and give their breast a better shape. It is very common for the breast to sag or droop after removal of implants because the skin has stretched.

Saline breast implants can be removed in the office if a breast lift or capsulectomy (removal of scar tissue) is not being done. If you are having a breast lift, silicone breast implants removed or a capsulectomy the procedure must be done at the out-patient surgery center. It is recommended that the capsules (scarred tissues) are removed. The breast implants are usually removed through the same incisions that were used for the breast augmentation.

Recovery for breast implant removal will vary based on the reason they were removed and exactly what needs to be done. A surgical bra or sports bra is worn after the procedure for several weeks for support.