While breast augmentation continues to be one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures every year, some women decide later on that they no longer want their implants, due to cosmetic or medical reasons. Breast implant removal, also known as breast implant explantation, is a surgical procedure that involves removing the breast implants, and may be combined with other breast procedures, such as removing scar tissue and/or a breast lift. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Behzad Parva, is highly experienced with performing breast implant removal for those desiring a breast revision, as well as those wanting to completely remove their implants without replacement. 

What Are the Possible Reasons for Breast Implant Removal?

Breast implant removal may be performed to alter the appearance of the breasts, remove old or damaged implants or to address a health-related implant complication. In many cases a breast revision may be desired to update the breast implants; in other cases an explant may be performed without replacing the implants. The most common reasons that patients may seek breast implant removal include the following:

During your consultation Dr. Parva will help you understand how implant removal may be able to address your concerns and help you achieve your desired outcome. This conversation, as well as a physical examination and review of your medical history, will guide Dr. Parva in offering the most appropriate surgical options for you.

What Does the Breast Implant Removal Procedure Involve?

Breast implant removal surgery will be different for every patient depending on their unique needs. In many cases the surgery can be performed through the same incisions as the initial breast augmentation. The specific technique used for your implant removal will be tailored to effectively address your concerns and minimize your risk of complications. For some patients only the implant will need to be removed, while others may desire removal of the entire implant and capsule (total capsulectomy). Drains are often placed to prevent fluid buildup during the initial recovery period.

Some patients may choose to undergo a breast lift (mastopexy) during their explant surgery, since the breast tissue may have dropped due to pregnancies, weight changes, time and aging. This can enhance the appearance of the breasts after implant removal, providing a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance.

A very individualized approach is needed since the breasts will change over the course of time due to aging, weight changes, etc. 

What Does “En Bloc” Versus Capsulectomy Mean?

Terms such as capsulectomy and en bloc resection have been used when discussing removal of the scar tissue that surrounds implants. Capsulectomy is appropriate terminology because it relates to removal of any amount of scar tissue in the breast (partial, subtotal, complete).

The term “en bloc” refers to a cancer operation that removes a cancerous mass and a rim, or margin, of surrounding healthy tissue and is typically associated with a mastectomy procedure. Therefore, the term “en bloc resection” is only appropriate if cancer is present in the capsule (ie: BIA-ALCL – Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) and is not an accurate term to describe the removal of scar tissue.

Unfortunately, confusion arises when some physicians use “en bloc” terminology when removing implants and the scar capsule for women who have symptoms of BII (Breast implant Illness). Because no cancer is present in these cases, the use of the term “en bloc” is not accurate.

Is It Necessary to Remove the Capsule When Removing or Replacing the Implants?

If a total capsulectomy is performed, this means the entire capsule of scar tissue that has developed around the implant is removed. When this is required, Dr. Parva typically employs what is referred to as total capsulectomy. 

When breast implant removal is performed utilizing this technique, the breast implant is removed while it is still contained inside the capsule. This is especially beneficial if capsular contracture has formed or a rupture has occurred, since any leaked silicone material often remains inside the capsule. Since there can be additional risks and limitations when performing this technique, it may not always be possible or necessary to perform a complete capsulectomy.  During your consultation, Dr. Parva will carefully evaluate your needs to determine the safest and most beneficial technique for your specific case, while also further educating you on the benefits and risks of both approaches.   

Some patients that believe they are experiencing symptoms of Breast Implant Illness, are under the impression that a complete capsulectomy is necessary when performing the removal of breast implants. As it relates to the poorly understood condition of BII, published studies in 2023 demonstrated breast implant removal or explantation, with partial or complete removal of the capsule, did not have any higher incidence of symptom reduction or resolution than the group of women who only had the implants removed.

What Can I Expect in My Breast Implant Removal Recovery?

The details of your recovery from breast implant removal will depend upon the technique used for your surgery. In general, patients can typically resume many of their normal, non-strenuous activities after a few days and return to work after one week. Compression garments will need to be worn for comfort and to facilitate the healing process. Bruising and swelling are typically present after explant surgery, and these should significantly fade within the first few weeks. You should avoid strenuous activities for about six weeks to allow yourself adequate time to heal. More personalized details about your recovery, including post-operative instructions, will be provided before your procedure.

What Will My Breasts Look Like After Implant Removal? 

The appearance of breasts after implant removal usually depends on the patient’s skin quality, breast implant size, amount and quality of remaining breast tissue, scar tissue around the implants, and length of implantation. For patients that had relatively small implants or have exceptional skin elasticity, there is a chance they will experience a reasonably good shape and position of the breast, although a smaller size. However, in the cases of larger breast implants or changes to the breast tissue over time and from weight changes that impacted the breast, it is possible the surrounding skin, ligaments, and contours have become stretched, saggy, or deflated. These patients may want to consider a breast lift to restore the position and shape of breast tissue, skin, and nipples/areolas for a more youthful breast appearance. 

During an initial consultation, Dr. Parva will be able to discuss the best way to achieve a more natural-looking, and youthful, outcome after implant removal.

Will I Feel Better After Breast Implant Removal? 

Each patient’s experience after breast implant removal will vary due to medical or physical circumstances, personal reasons for explanting, how the breast and surrounding tissues rebound after surgery, and other factors.

Other individuals that may be concerned about breast implant illness (BII) – a condition related to various symptoms women feel that can be triggered by saline or silicone breast implants – may find assurance in clearing the implant as a source of their ailments. Dr. Parva understands that BII symptoms (fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, and others) experienced by women are real and breast implant removal can be considered as an option for alleviating their health concerns, however, the procedure cannot guarantee those results. *Although there is no current scientific evidence that proves breast implants cause systemic issues, a recent study did show that 88% of those participants experienced at least partial symptom improvement, with a reduction of 2 to 20 symptoms, after one year following breast implant removal. Overall, patients of Dr. Parva’s that decide to remove their implants have been well informed prior to making their decision and are extremely satisfied with their outcomes. 

What Will My Scars Look Like After My Breast Explant?

The appearance of scars after breast explant surgery will vary for each patient depending on the specific technique used for removing the breast implant. In many cases, Dr. Parva will be able to use the same incisions as the initial breast augmentation, which is often under the breast in the inframammary fold. It is important to note that scarring may also depend on additional procedures that may be performed at the same time or a later date, such as breast revision surgery or a breast lift. 

How Much Does Breast Implant Removal Cost? 

Breast implant removal costs an average of $6,000-$15,000 for the surgeon’s fee. However, the total cost of the procedure can greatly vary depending on the specifics of each case. Factors that can influence how much you can expect to pay for explant surgery include the expertise of the surgeon, geographic location of the practice, complexity of the surgery, and fees related to anesthesia and the surgical facility. During your consultation with Dr. Parva, you will be provided with a cost estimate based on the details of your surgical plan.

Medical Reference for Breast Implant Removal:

*Aesthetic Surgery Journal: Longevity of Post-Explantation Systemic Symptom Improvement and Potential Etiologies

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