Breast Implant Removal

Desire for Size Change

Breast implant removal may be considered for a variety of reasons.  Some who had a breast augmentation when young find after aging, lifestyle changes such as pregnancy or weight change, that their breasts are now larger than they desire.  Often during and after menopause breast size will increase even when weight remains stable.  Some women will find that after weight loss from exercise or other issues, that breasts are now too large for comfort with current implants.

Many of these women wish to be evaluated for breast implant exchange or removal.  The concerns with implant removal often are “how deflated will I look,” “how will my clothing fit,” e“how will my partner feel about my change,” and “will I need or have to have additional surgery to address drooping or sagging or uneven breast.”

These questions reflect real and legitimate concerns, and can be addressed during a breast consultation.  During the consultation, your breast will be examined for implant positioning, size, and soft tissue covering. Probable volume and contour changes following implant removal will be estimated and reviewed, as will potential need for additional surgical procedures.

Desire for Shape Change

Breast implant removal may be considered when shape changes have occurred over time that are either unpleasing or uncomfortable. Some women with implants will see changes with aging, after weight fluctuations, and after pregnancy that will result in asymmetry, misshapen breast or breast that appear unbalanced. Even soft implants that were appropriately placed might cause discomfort or visual concern with changes in lifestyle and aging. Some women indicate that they have always felt their implants were not appropriately matched to their body from the beginning, or noted postoperative asymmetry from the beginning, and either desire revision or implant removal.  In many cases implant removal alone may result in return to a more natural looking breast.

During the consultation we will examine your breast and implant position size and soft tissue characteristics will be assessed and discussed as well as possible volume and contour changes anticipated following implant removal. Some women may consider a breast lift as well at the time of removal or as a secondary operation depending upon desire after healing. It is not uncommon for women to see improvement in breast contour and skin consistency within several months following implant removal.

Desire for treatment of hard breast (capsular contraction)

A known complication of breast implant placement is the occurrence of capsular contraction. All breast implants placed in the body become surrounded by a layer of tissue called a capsule. This is the body’s natural response to an implant. In most women this capsule lining is thin. Most breast capsules formed may not significantly change over the life of the implants. However some women will find that one or both breast become firm for hard overtime often associated with a change in shape. This hardness can occur quite rapidly and be noticeable over days or weeks. In some women the tightening of the capsules may be so gradual that they may not be able to remember when their breast first became firm, hard, or misshapen.

Capsular contraction is believed to occur in some women as result of reaction to the natural bacteria within the breast tissue that stimulate response causing the capsule tissue to contract. These are not considered infections and treatment with antibiotics does not result in resolution. Capsular contraction is as well often associated with ruptured implants, particularly when significant chronic inflammatory changes occur. Capsules when tightened may become thickened or remain thin and still cause implant shape change. Capsular contraction can occur with saline or silicone implants, textured or smooth implants and with implants placed above or below the muscle.

Many patients will complain of pain, discomfort, soreness, or interference with physical or sexual activity when a capsular contraction occurs. The capsule can adhere to surrounding muscle and breast tissue and can cause interference during movement and result in nerve inflammation. Patients may experience  discomfort in the chest, shoulder, rib, and back, numbness, tightness, heaviness, or non specific irritation from capsular contractures. Some will be generally embarrassed to give someone a hug because their breast just feel too hard.

Treatment options for capsular contraction

Some women may decide to have implants removed after developing a capsular contraction or may wish to have a revision and replacement of the implants. Current studies have shown that implants should be replaced or removed. Keeping the original implants is not recommended since the implant surface has adherent bacteria called a biofilm. In most cases,  a capsulectomy (the surgical removal of the capsule) is performed at the time of implant replacement to improve the likelihood of soft breast and potentially reduce the recurrence rate of the capsular contraction. Removal of the capsule generally results in a dramatic breast shape change.

During the consultation implant positioning, size, capsular contracture severity, and soft tissue characteristics will be assessed to estimate expected postoperative appearance. Many symptoms may resolve quickly after implant and capsule removal. Capsules removed are typically sent for pathologic evaluation, and patients receive a written report of findings from the pathologist.

Concern regarding ruptured (leaking) breast implants

Breast implant removal is recommended when evidence of rupture or leak is encountered. Most commonly patients will have a routine mammogram that is suggestive of a rupture or may have a MRI or ultrasound test that are suggestive of a rupture or leak. A ruptured implant is considered and mechanical failure of the implant with a break in the silicone lining of the implant. If the implants are saline, the breast will often become much smaller within one to several days as the saline is absorbed by the surrounding tissue. Many women will experience some soreness or discomfort from mild inflammation caused by this process. In the distant past some surgeons were known to add antibiotics or soap solutions such as Betadine to the saline implants when filled, and these patients may experience more inflammation during rupture. When the implants are silicone gel filled, any rupture of the implant may allow the gel to leak into the capsule. Older implants were constructed with less cohesive sticky gel that acted more like a thick sticky liquid. The most recent implants are made using cohesive gel technology that helps restrict leakage even with implant rupture. Implants in some cases may be ruptured for years before a patient experiences any shape changes and in some women a ruptured implant may not result in a dramatic shape change. Some women will develop significant inflammation following implant rupture. This will often result in thickening of the capsule around the implant and in many women long term ruptures may result in calcification of the capsule. Calcification results in changes of the visible lining of the capsule where calcified areas may resembling eggshell fragments. These changes are always associated with some inflammation of the surrounding capsular tissue. When implants are removed for any reason and calcification is encountered, a capsulectomy is performed, and the capsules are sent for pathologic evaluation, and patients receive a written report of findings from the pathologist.

Concern of implants and general health issues

There are a number of women who desire to have implant removal because of concern that the implants are impacting their general health. Many studies have been done in the US and internationally indicating difficulty in relating implants to specific medical conditions. However there are a number of women who do not do well with breast implants. Some women will voice concern within a year of general medical and health changes. Many will present years later with concerns regarding breast implants and general health. Some women may have localized discomfort and visible changes. Other will have no visible breast changes or local pain or discomfort and may have a normal breast exam and still experience other health issues. Patients may notice a gradual onset of new symptoms relating to some specific condition or may just generally not feeling well.

Women who presented to our office for evaluation are often sent by their general practitioner for evaluation for implant removal. Some women have been evaluated by other surgeons who may either dismiss their symptoms of concern or recommend extreme solutions for treatment. It is not possible to accurately predict with any single woman with implants who is experiencing other medical problems if removal of implants alone will positively impact their health. However, many women will report significant and often dramatic improvement in concerns soon after implant removal. Symptoms can range from general fatigue to rashes, digestive issues, and a wide variety of issues often seen in autoimmune complexes. Many of these women report improvement or resolution of specific complaints often soon after implant and capsule removal. In most cases, when women present for evaluation for implant removal who have concerns with health issues, the general recommendations include implant removal and capsulectomy. Additional operations such as lymph node removal and extensive breast lift operations are generally not recommended in order to limit surgery to the safest least invasive method of to help restore prior breast health. There are some who as well report such significant improvement that they can reduce or eliminate other medications that they have been taking often for years to treat symptoms.

“En bloc” implant removal

Some women may be a candidate for “en bloc” implant capsule removal. This technique involves removing the implant with surrounding lining as a single unit.   In order to successfully achieve this result a significantly larger incision is required.  Patients realize that when implants are first place the incisions may be quite short often 4 cm or less. However removal of an implant cannot be done through the same incision size and if an “en bloc” resection is to be performed, incisions can be as long as 8 or more centimeters. The incision is usually in the inframammary crease which is the fold under the breast and may include the original incision if the implant was placed through the site. Implants placed above the muscle may be most successfully removed “en bloc”. Implants placed below the muscle maybe removed “en bloc” if the capsules are significantly thick to allow for dissection without disturbing surrounding normal tissue. Some implant capsules behind the implant that are adjacent to the ribs will be so thin that “en bloc” resection may cause damage to ribs and muscle depending upon intraoperative findings.  The potential advantage of “en bloc” resection is that it helps control removal of ruptured gel and calcified tissue, potential biofilm from bacteria and other inflammatory components during implant and capsule removal. Implant removal alone will not result in reliable capsule resolution or disappearance. A consultation is required to evaluate your potential for performing and block resection. It is not accurate to state that all implants can be removed safely by “en bloc” resection and the pros and cons should be seriously review during your exam to determine realistic options and expectations.

Breast Implant Removal FAQ’s

Why would I consider Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

Patients who have breast implants who desire a reduction in volume, a shape change, who have experienced contour issues that can occur with implants such as displacement, capsular contracture, who are concerned regarding the age and integrity of the implants, who feel their implants are ruptured, or who have concerns regarding possible health issues with implants, may present for breast implant removal.

What should I consider before Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

Breast implant removal can be performed most commonly through an incision along the breast fold (the inframammary crease). The most technical aspect of the surgery is removal of the capsule (lining around the implant) and the approach to restoration of the soft tissue in the area. You should consider using a surgeon with experience and skilled in delicate technique to allow for the least impact on your tissue during surgery to facilitate the best conditions for healing. The most accurate pre operative consultations can best prepare you for your post surgical appearance and potential need for any additional revisional surgery.

How will I look after Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

Your appearance after surgery will depend significantly on how much of your current breast volume is tissue vs. implant. Your cup size generally will be similar to your cup size before implants were placed. However, women who had had several pregnancies may have less OR more breast tissue than at the time of augmentation. Women who are near or through menopause may have experienced volume changes in breast, more commonly larger than smaller. Patients who have had gradual weight gain may as well have more native breast volume. And removal of implants placed above vs. below the muscle can impact the shape after surgery. All of these factors will be discussed during your consultation so that you can have a reasonable idea of possible outcomes before your breast implant removal surgery.

Does Dr. Rudderman perform the entire Breast Implant Removal surgery?

Yes, he performs all of his patient’s surgeries. Many surgeons use assistants to suture or perform part of the operations. Dr. Rudderman performs the entire operation on every patient. You should ask during any consultation to know who will be your operating surgeon.

Can I have a Breast Lift at the same time as my Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

Breast lift operations are associated with specific benefits and risks. The greatest risk are related to blood supply to the tissue including skin and nipple/areolar area. These risks are very low in patients without prior surgery, and may be greater in patients with prior implants, particularly those with implants above the muscle. Those with very little natural volume and implants above the muscle may need to consider the option of a second operation for a lift to allow for healing to occur and potentially reduce risk of postoperative issues. These risks will be fully evaluated and discussed for each individual during the consultation. Many patients with implants currently under the muscle are often better candidates for a breast lift at the time of implant removal. Like most issues in surgery, there is not an all or none answer for this option.

If I have asymmetry after Breast Implant Removal Surgery, are there options to improve appearance?

Many patients will have some asymmetry after surgery, and most are so pleased in general that they desire no additional treatment. Some will decide that they may wish to have a breast lift or some modification of a breast lift to improve contour. In patients that have areas of dimpling or irregularities related to prior surgery, some patients may be a candidate for fat grafting, a procedure where your own tissue can be transferred to restore volume, improve contour, and reduce asymmetry.

What is fat transfer (fat grafting)?

Fat grafting or fat transfer is a procedure used to remove fat from one area of the body and place it in another area to increase volume, change contour, fill in a defect or depression, or restore shape. Fat grafting can be performed in breast to adjust volume, and to improve contour in patients that have undergone breast implant removal, breast reconstruction, or breast radiation.

Will there be any pain with Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

All surgeries involve some discomfort. Dr. Rudderman is highly skilled and uses advanced techniques and refined instruments that minimize comfort during his surgical procedures. Many patients will take either minimal pain medications for several days and/or Tylenol.

Will a capsulectomy be performed with Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

A capsulectomy (surgical removal of the tissue lining around your implant) is performed in effectively all operations with implant removal. If implants are removed without removal of the capsule, the capsule will persist indefinitely, and may scar together, but will not disappear. Retained capsuled may occasionally become a site for seroma (fluid collection) if retained.

What happens to the tissue removed during Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

All capsules removed during surgery are sent to the Northside Hospital Pathology department for microscopic evaluation, and a report is generated for your medical record with findings noted. It is very rare for any neoplasm (cancer) to be related with capsule removal.

How long before I can exercise after Breast Implant Removal surgery?

You will need to avoid all rigorous, strenuous activities for a few weeks until healing is adequate and Dr. Rudderman tells you it’s ok. We will see you frequently during your healing process to help you return to your normal activity as soon as possible. Exercise can be an important part or recovery, and we follow your recovery closely to help you reach your goals.

How long before I can return to work after my Breast Implant Removal surgery?

Dr. Rudderman’s patients most often return to desk jobs in about 4 days. Most operations for implant removal can be performed on Thursday with return to work on Monday. If drains are placed, they usually can be removed in 1-4 days as well. He can give you a time frame specific to you during your consultation.

Will I have a board certified anesthesiologist for my Breast Implant Removal surgery?

Yes. All cases are supervised a Board Certified medical doctor who has specialized in anesthesiology.

Is the surgery done in an accredited facility?

All of our surgeries are performed in a fully accredited surgery facility using state of the art technologies and a world-class staff with all the comfort and safety factors as a hospital surgery suite.

Will insurance pay for Breast Implant Removal surgery?

Breast Implant Removal surgeries are usually considered to be cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic procedures are not covered by insurance. There may be exceptions so you should check directly with your provider for this answer.

Is financing available for Breast Implant Removal Surgery?

Yes. Financing is available today for all the breast procedures Dr. Rudderman performs. Please check in our business office for information about it.

Will I need someone to take care of me after my Breast Implant Removal surgery?

You will need someone to drive you to your surgery, stay there and then drive you home and stay with you overnight after you have had anesthesia. Dr. Rudderman will advise you based on what you have had done and especially if you have small children. Your follow-up visit will usually be within 24 hours, and you will generally need to have someone drive you to this appointment.

  • Dr. Rudderman and his staff made the experience easy and comfortable. They were realistic communicating surgery expectations, expected pain levels and down time from work. Nurses were informative and friendly and wait times minimal. I also liked the fact that Dr. Rudderman does all his own work and doesn't let other less experienced people do parts of the surgery the way other doctors may. I'm only one week out of the surgery, but I am very satisfied with the results so far.

    Susan Parker | Atlanta, GA

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WHY CHOOSE DR. RUDDERMAN

Dr. Rudderman’s unique, integrated approach to plastic surgery employs only safe, effective, predictable surgical techniques that are driven by uncompromising respect for the natural condition of the human form. He understands that the body changes with time – as do desires. His primary goal is to deliver the best possible plastic surgery … specifically matched to each patient…in a safe environment with ultimate respect for every single individual…their concerns and goals. LEARN MORE »

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