Removing & Replacing Your Breast Implants

Published: July 21, 2020
Category: Breast Augmentation, General, In The News

Explore Your Options with Explant Surgery

Breast implants are one of the most requested plastic surgery procedures in the world. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 313,000 breast augmentations were performed in the United States in 2018. Breast implants can restore youthful fullness and volume to the breasts, enhance the balance of your body’s proportions, and increase how confident and attractive you feel. But, breast implants are not designed to last forever; at some point, Explant Surgery will be required to either remove or replace your implants. During this time, you have additional options you may not have considered to further enhance your breasts with or without the placement of new implants.

Explant Surgery may sound like a simple procedure in theory, but it may require several techniques to ensure that the natural breast tissue remains healthy and aesthetically appealing to the patient,” explains Dr. Christine Stewart, a Plastic Surgeon with Edina Plastic Surgery. “The goal of Explant Surgery is to safely remove the former implants and any scar tissue that may have formed around the implants. During your consultation we will thoroughly discuss your reasons for desiring Explant Surgery, talk about realistic expectations of what your natural breasts will look like after implant removal, and then cover all of your options to address your breast’s appearance from that point forward.”

OPTION #1 – Remove Your Implants Without Replacement

“Implants provide volume and support to the breasts, so when they are removed, breasts may appear deflated, droopy, and flattened,” says Dr. Stewart. “How quickly and to what extent your breast tissue regains some volume and tightness is completely dependent upon the individual, but you should never assume that your breasts will simply return to how they looked before you had implants.”

After Explant Surgery, it is natural for breasts to have a deflated, almost concave appearance. It can take 6 months up to a year to know how they will finally look.  Over time, the weight of breast implants can stretch the skin of the breasts and even cause slight changes in the ribcage, so it is unrealistic to expect your breasts to return to their former, pre-breast implant appearance.

OPTION #2 – Replace Your Old Implants with New Ones

“There is no prescribed amount of time when breast implant replacement is advised. Rupture rate for saline and silicone implants is similar, and has been quoted at about 1% per side per year. What we know for sure, is that breast implants are medical devices and no medical device lasts forever. The longer the implant is in, the higher the probability it will rupture,” advises Dr. Stewart.

Because of how our breast tissue ages over time, revisional procedures after a primary breast augmentation are common. For example, if a woman gets breast implants when she is in her early 20s, then has children in her 30s, how her breasts look will usually change. A larger or smaller implant may be needed, a patient may choose to switch from silicone or saline, or all of this may be done with the addition of a lift.

Even without major hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause, most of us don’t look the same as we did a decade ago. Skin ages becoming less elastic and weight fluctuates – two significant factors that affect the appearance of your breasts. Replacing your implants allows you and your surgeon to update the implant that suits your body, lifestyle, and aesthetic preferences now.

OPTION #3 – Remove Your Implants and Enhance Your Breasts with Natural Fat Grafting

“Some women are dissatisfied with the appearance of their natural breasts after having their implants removed, but do not wish to replace them with new implants,” shares Dr. Stewart. “In these cases, natural fat grafting may be a good option.”

Fat grafting is a form of natural volume enhancement that transfers fat from one area of your body (where it is undesirable) to another area that can benefit from the volume of that fat. Fat used in fat grafting/transfer is commonly harvested from the abdomen, hips, or inner thigh area via liposuction, and is then washed and prepared for reinjection into the breasts. This method offers very subtle, natural fullness, but cannot replace the full volume of your former implants.  Fat Grafting will also not change the shape of your breast like your former implants in that the upper pole of your breast cannot be augmented with fat like it can be with an implant.

OPTION #4 – Implant Removal with Breast Lift

“Many women choose to schedule a Breast Lift with their Explant Surgery to offset the deflation and sagging that commonly follows implant removal,” explains Dr. Stewart. “When we remove implants, the remaining breast tissue can appear very flattened and even elongated and wide across the chest. Most likely, your breasts will now hang lower on your chest wall, and nipples will sit on the bottom quadrant of the breast and may even point downwards. Breast Lift Surgery repositions and tightens this tissue to recreate the shape of a natural-looking, well-proportioned breast.”

OPTION #5 – Implant Replacement with Breast Lift

No matter how supportive your daily bras and how restrictive your sports bras are – you can’t escape gravity. Breasts with or without implants will experience sagging with aging. Large implants especially, may even increase this sagging to an extent. For this reason, having Breast Lift Surgery with an Implant Replacement is the most popular choice for many women.

“A lot of women I treat are happy with the size of their breast implants, but they’d just prefer them to sit higher on their chest and be more lifted and youthful looking,” explains Dr. Stewart. “Having a Breast Lift performed in tandem with your implant replacement is a fantastic way for you and your surgeon to really customize and update your breasts for the body and personal preferences you have now. Many women prefer a smaller, but higher and perkier breast appearance when they are older, while others love the volume they have, but just want more lift. Just like your original breast augmentation, these decisions are highly personal.”

As you can see, the process of having your breast implants removed deserves much consideration. Although the procedure is straightforward, you have several options to explore in regards to how you want your breasts to appear afterward. Your surgeon will discuss each option with you, and together, you will decide on the method that matches your lifestyle, aesthetic preference, body shape and frame, and what will make you feel like your most confident you at this stage in your life!

Schedule a complimentary consultation with an Edina Plastic Surgery surgeon to discuss ALL of your options following your implant removal or replacement by calling (612) 509-0717.

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