Breast implant removal, also called explantation surgery, is a procedure in which a surgeon removes previously placed breast implants. Sometimes, a complication with the implants occurs, and they need to be removed at an earlier date. Similarly, no pair of implants is permanent, so explantation surgery is a necessary procedure for many women. Breast implant removal can be followed up with replacement implants, a breast lift, fat transfer, or no modifications at all. It all depends on the aesthetic preference of the patient.
Dr. Richard Chaffoo is one of America’s few Triple Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons who is a co-owner of the La Jolla Plastic Surgery & Dermatology Center. Dr. Chaffoo provides residents of La Jolla and beyond with access to high-quality breast implant removal and revision if and when they choose to make that change.
Before and After Photos
- 1 Before and After Photos
- 2 About Breast Implants
- 3 Benefits of Breast Implant Removal
- 4 Personal Consultation
- 5 Preparation
- 6 Breast Implant Removal Procedure
- 7 Recovery
- 8 How Much is Breast Implant Removal in La Jolla?
- 9 FAQ
- 10 References
About Breast Implants
Although breast implants are more durable than ever, there is no implant available that is designed to last a lifetime. Some researchers estimate a maximum of a 20-year lifespan for implants, while others recommend removal surgery sooner, at 10 or 15 years. (1) It typically depends on a woman’s unique anatomy, age, and implant texture or size. In a study with over 500 women, roughly 50% of them needed to get their implants removed for medical reasons after a decade. (2)
Benefits of Breast Implant Removal
With explantation surgery, you can avoid the complications that come with aging breast implants such as:
This happens with breast implants that are placed behind the pectoral muscles of the chest; when these muscles flex, it can cause the implants to move unnaturally. This can especially pose a problem to athletic, active women who do not want their implants to interfere with mobility.
Research has shown that women with smooth implants overlying the pectoral muscles are most at risk for capsular contracture, a condition where the body creates too much scar tissue. (3) While it is normal for some scar tissue to develop around the breast, too much can be a cause for concern. It not only can distort the look of the breast, but it can be very uncomfortable.
Women with saline implants will know if their implant ruptures because the breast will deflate over the course of a few days. The saline is also very easily absorbed into the body. With silicone implants, however, rupture is less common. The silicone gel within the implant capsule is usually very well contained but can travel to nearby lymph nodes with some of the older style breast implants. (4) The gel can’t be absorbed, so it also increases the risk of capsular contracture.
Breast Implant Illness (BII)
BII is not very well understood, but surgeons have realized that the best method of effective treatment is thorough explantation surgery. It is a collection of symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, sleep issues, depression and/or anxiety, fatigue, rashes, and more. The presence of this wide range of symptoms makes BII difficult to diagnose, but skilled surgeons are aware of the possibility of these issues arising in women with breast implants.
Other Reasons for Breast Implant Removal
Explantation surgery shouldn’t just be about the avoidance of medical issues, but it should also be about feeling like your best, most confident self. With implant removal, you can:
- Restore the natural look and feel of your breasts
- Get more accurate mammogram screenings (5)
- Correct any skin or tissue irregularities
- Improve mobility and reduce discomfort
- Find better-suited implants of your liking
A personal consultation with Dr. Chaffoo will help you to determine if it’s time for breast implant removal surgery. During your time with us, we will answer any questions you may have and discuss any further steps in order to achieve your ideal breasts. Regardless of your aesthetic goals, we want each and every patient to feel satisfied with our care and service.
Book a consultation online or call (800) 373-4773 to reach our La Jolla, San Diego, Newport Beach, or Beverly Hills, CA locations.
Before your surgery, Dr. Chaffoo will review your medical history and conduct blood tests to ensure you’re in good health. He will advise you to stop taking blood-thinning medications and supplements in order to prevent excessive bruising or bleeding. If you’re a smoker, you should quit about 4 to 6 weeks beforehand since the chemicals in cigarettes can impede healthy blood circulation. We also advise that you make plans for a friend or family member to pick you up after surgery. Finally, you should pick up prescription medications beforehand, and arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home after the surgery, as you will not be able to drive yourself.
Breast Implant Removal Procedure
Depending on your specific needs, you will be placed under local or general anesthesia to ensure a comfortable procedure. Your surgery will use the prior surgery’s incision sites to remove the implants where possible to reduce additional scarring. The implants will be removed through an incision around the nipple or an incision on the underside of the breast.
Breast Implant Replacements
If you choose to get replacement implants, the new implants will be inserted through the same an incision in the breast crease called the inframammary fold . Dr. Chaffoo offers a range of implants; with patients able to choose the material, size, projection, shape, and texture. He ensures that every patient understands their options in order to make an informed decision for their body.
If you decide to undergo a breast lift with your explantation procedure, Dr. Chaffoo will create an extra incision from the nipple to the underside of the breast. With this, Dr. Chaffoo will be able to tighten the tissue of your breast so that there is no sagging without an implant to provide support.
Breast Augmentation with Fat Transfer
Sometimes, women choose to get explantation surgery alongside breast augmentation with fat transfer. With this method, fat is harvested from another area of the body, such as the abdomen, flanks, or legs through liposuction.
For liposuction, Dr. Chaffoo will make a tiny incision in the donor area, a site with an adequate amount of fat. Next, he will inject tumescent fluid in order to numb the tissue and more easily separate the fat from other tissues. With an instrument called a cannula, he will suction the appropriate amount of fat. According to research, the average amount collected for breast augmentation is 55 to 135 ml (about 4 to 9 tablespoons). (6) Next, this fat is purified and reinjected back into the breasts for enhancement.
Many patients enjoy the results of fat transfer because it doesn’t require sutures, and it utilizes your very own tissue to create an all-natural boost in breast volume and shape.
For the first 3 to 5 days of your recovery, you will need to rest as much as possible. Within just one week, you’ll be able to return to work– as long as it’s not a physically demanding job.
Working out and high-exertion physical activities should be postponed for about 1 month. Regardless of any revision procedures performed, you will have to wear a compression bra for at least 2 to 3 weeks. Over this time period, your post-procedure swelling will have receded almost completely.
How Much is Breast Implant Removal in La Jolla?
The cost of your explantation surgery will depend on your personalized treatment plan and any revision procedures you receive after the implant removal itself. To get a better understanding of your next steps, we recommend contacting us for a personal consultation with Dr. Chaffoo at (800) 373-4773.
Does breast implant removal leave scars?
Surgeons are careful to use the previous scars of the previous implant procedure so new scars are not added to the breasts. Your surgeon will either make a new areolar incision (around the nipple) or an inframammary incision (the lower crease of the breast) that will create more subtle, hidden scars.
How can I reduce the scars from breast implant removal?
To reduce the appearance of your scars, you should follow instructions for wearing your surgical bra and consume a diet high in protein. As your incisions heal, ask your doctor about when you can begin applying silicone gel sheets or scar cream to further fade the scars. On occasion, the scars can be improved with the use of an office laser.
Will breast implant removal leave sagging skin?
With just a simple breast implant removal, there is a risk of developing sagging tissue, especially if you are older. To prevent this issue from occurring, you may opt to undergo a breast lift immediately following breast implant removal.
- Fardo D, Sequeira Campos M, Pensler JM. Breast Augmentation. PubMed. Published 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482206/#:~:text=The%20risk%20of%20complications%20is
- Zhang, Z., Qi, J., Zhang, X. et al. What Can We Learn from Breast Implant Explantation: a 28-Year, Multicenter Retrospective Study of 1004 Explantation Cases. Aesth Plast Surg (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-023-03365-4
- Headon H, Kasem A, Mokbel K. Capsular Contracture after Breast Augmentation: An Update for Clinical Practice. Archives of Plastic Surgery. 2015;42(5):532. doi:https://doi.org/10.5999/aps.2015.42.5.532
- Swezey E, Shikhman R, Moufarrege R. Breast Implant Rupture. PubMed. Published 2023. Accessed July 20, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459308/#:~:text=A%20ruptured%20silicone%20implant%2C%20whether
- Shah A, Jankharia B. Imaging of common breast implants and implant-related complications: A pictorial essay. Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging. 2016;26(2):216. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/0971-3026.184409
- Salibian AA, Frey JD, Bekisz JM, Choi M, Karp NS. Fat Grafting and Breast Augmentation: A Systematic Review of Primary Composite Augmentation. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open. 2019;7(7). doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/GOX.0000000000002340