Breast Implant Removal

Whilst the vast majority of patients would not want to part with their breast implants, there are various reasons why some want them removed and not replaced. These include capsular contracture, dissatisfaction with the size or appearance of the breasts, rupture or fears that implants are causing health problems. Sometimes when patients get older they feel that they no longer wish implants and the potential maintenance they may require in the future.

If the implants are not replaced, this surgery is often combined with a breast lift (mastopexy) and/or fat transfer because the breasts are likely to be saggy or deflated after removal.

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The breast implants are removed through the same incisions created for the breast augmentation surgery. The existing scar is excised, the capsule surrounding the implant is opened and the implant is removed. The pocket is washed out and then the skin incision is closed. If the implant has ruptured, then the capsule surrounding the implant is removed with the implant inside (this is called a capsulectomy).

The procedure takes less than an hour to perform and is most commonly performed under a general anaesthetic (you will be fully asleep during the procedure). You can go home the same day as your surgery. This is not a particularly painful procedure and you should only require simple analgesia, such as paracetamol, for a few days.

Complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, no surgery is without risk and you should be aware of any possible problems.

Scar – scars tend to settle remarkably well, however some patients heal with thick scars and this can make them more noticeable.

Bruising and swelling – swelling is very common and may take a couple of weeks to settle. Bruising is less common.

Haematoma – this can happen if a bleed occurs in the breast pocket, allowing a large blood clot to form. If this does occur, it is likely to happen within four to six hours of surgery. Any increase in swelling or pain should be reported immediately so that treatment can be given. Sometimes patients need to have this blood removed with another short operation.

Infection – is rare, but you may require antibiotics if there are any concerns.

Wound healing problems – are rare. Patients who have diabetes, smoke, are obese or elderly are at an increased risk of delayed healing.

Asymmetry – each breast is slightly different and will continue to be following surgery; remember they are ‘sisters and not twins’.

DVT/PE – following any surgical procedure it is possible to develop a blood clot in your legs, which could potentially break off and move to your lungs. If the blood clot is large enough it could prove fatal. To reduce any risks of this we give you special stockings to wear in bed and a blood thinning injection if you are immobile.

All the risks will be discussed in detail at your consultation. However, if you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to discuss these with me. Decisions about surgery must never be rushed and requires personal research.

Your incisions will be closed with dissolvable sutures that do not need to be removed. I use a glue dressing which is waterproof and dissolves 3 weeks after surgery. You can shower as soon as you like and do not require any dressing changes.

Before you leave the hospital, you will be given a follow up appointment to see the nurses at one week to check your incisions and an appointment to see me in 4-6 weeks. You will not be able to drive yourself home from hospital.

When you get home, you should take things easy for the first week. Most people take a few days off from work. You should be able to drive by 1 week, return to the gym for lower body work after 1 week and begin upper body exercises at 2-3 weeks.

Anne Dancey

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any questions or require a little more information then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Anne Dancey

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon FRCS(Plast), MBChB(Hons), MMedSci(Hons) and MCh(PASP)