Breast Implant Removal
An increasing number of women are opting to have their breast implants removed. The numbers are still dwarfed by those wishing to augment their breasts with implants, but there is some growth in implant removal. This could be due in part to the recent FDA recall and ban on Allergan Biocell textured implants due to their risk of possible development of a type of lymphoma known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
Get answers to the following questions about breast enhancement:
What is breast implant removal?
Breast implant removal with Cleveland Plastic Surgery Institute is a surgical procedure where Dr. Leedy removes a patient’s breast implants from a former augmentation procedure. The implants can usually be removed using the same incision locations from their placement, making for a straightforward procedure.
When Dr. Leedy is removing the implants, if he finds an excessive amount of scar tissue from capsular contracture, he will also remove most of that hardened capsule of tissue. If the scar tissue is still soft and malleable, it will likely be left in place.
What are the common reasons a woman would want to have her implants removed?
There are different reasons a woman may opt for implant removal:
Capsular contracture is the main reason. Capsular contracture is the process of excessive scar tissue forming around the implants causing tightness and pain in the chest. The implants are removed through revision surgery, along with most of the excess scar tissue. Most women opt to have new implants placed, however.
Other women don’t feel they need implants any longer, whether they’ve reached an older age (over 55 years of age, for instance), or whether they’ve come to accept their body without larger breasts. As they reach old age, they’d rather do so without an augmented chest.
Other women are reporting symptoms that have been given the term “breast implant illness.” Although there isn’t any research to specifically link implants to health outcomes, patients anecdotally report these symptoms: fatigue, memory loss, headaches, joint and muscle pain, hair loss, recurring infections, and swollen lymph nodes. At this point, breast implant illness hasn’t been confirmed through research, but some women are worried about the potential and want their implants removed.
There has been confirmation of BIA-ALCL, as discussed above. The incidence has been quite low, but it has led the FDA to require Allergan to remove all textured Biocell implants from the market permanently. The FDA has not, at least at this point, recommended that women with these implants have them removed.
How will my breasts look after my implants are removed?
Some patients assume their breasts will look the same as they did prior to their augmentation, but this is not the case. The weight of your implants will have stretched your breast skin and the support tissues. With larger implants, changes can also occur in the rib area. Without the implants, it’s likely your breasts will be sagging and flattened. They may be asymmetrical.
For most implant removal procedures, Dr. Leedy recommends performing a breast lift at the same time to address these issues.
Is a breast lift necessary after implant removal?
It’s likely that once your implants are removed, your breasts will have many of the characteristics that women seek to correct with a breast lift. That’s why in the majority of cases Dr. Leedy recommends a breast lift as a part of the implant removal process. This is because with a breast lift, he can remove the loose hanging skin, reposition the remaining breast tissue, and likely relocate the nipple/areola complex.
The goal with a breast lift is to return the breasts to a higher position on the chest, which will be important for you to be satisfied with the appearance of your breasts after removing your implants. As mentioned, without a lift, it’s likely your breasts will be quite flat and saggy without the implants. This is especially true the longer you have had implants, and with larger implant sizes.
What will my recovery be like after having my implants removed?
Your recovery will depend upon if you also had Dr. Leedy perform a breast lift at the time your implants were removed.
These are not difficult recoveries if you simply have Dr. Leedy remove the implants. You’ll be sore on the small incisions for a few days, but you won’t have a lengthy recovery. Your chest will feel different without the implants, but it isn’t a sensation of pain.
As mentioned above, however, most patients having implants removed also request a breast lift so they aren’t left with flattened sagging breasts after the implants are removed. Because there is more tissue repositioning and excision of excess sagging skin, the addition of a breast lift makes these recoveries more involved. You won’t be able to lift anything more than a gallon of milk for about one month. Any heavier lifting or strenuous exercise will need to wait for six weeks after a breast lift.
Will I have noticeable scarring after my implants are removed?
That depends. Dr. Leedy will use your original incisions to remove your implants, so obviously this doesn’t create any new scarring. But if he also performs a lift to improve the sagging loose skin, that will create some scarring. The typical incision method for a lift in these cases would be either a lollipop incision (circling the areola and dropping down to the breast crease) or an anchor incision (the lollipop incision plus the incision extends along the breast crease in both directions). The method he uses will be dictated by the amount of sagging skin that needs to be removed. This will leave scarring.
What should I expect from my result?
Your chest dimensions will obviously be smaller after Dr. Leedy removes your implants. If he has also performed a breast lift, however, you won’t have the sagging, loose skin and flattened appearance that occurs with implant removal on its own. Breast lifts bring the breast mass back up to a higher position on the chest. Lifts remove excess sagging skin and reposition tissue as needed. The nipple/areola complex is usually moved to a higher position, as well. With a breast lift, your breasts will be smaller, but they will not be sagging and overly flattened.
Having lifted, firmer breasts that sit high on the chest can really make the patient pleased with her decision to remove her implants. It creates a more difficult recovery, but patients generally feel it is worth it.