Breast implants need not be permanent after breast reconstruction. Patients who experience implant related complications, like deflation, leakage, capsular contracture (which is when the normal capsule that forms around a breast implant tightens, causing discomfort), and implant malposition often choose to remove their implants. Those who are unhappy with the way their reconstruction looks may also opt to undergo an implant removal procedure.
Implant removal tends to be accompanied by a corrective procedure that is dictated by each patient’s unique situation. Most undergo either a new implant-based reconstruction with new breast implants or a natural tissue breast reconstruction procedure. Some patients choose to neither replace the implants nor undergo any additional reconstruction.
Types of Breast Implant Removal procedures
Capsulectomy and breast implant removal
Breast implant removal with implant replacement
Breast implant removal with natural tissue reconstruction
Breast implant removal without replacement
- Implant removal incisions tend to be made through previously healed scars
- The implant capsule is removed if surgeons see an abnormality or capsular contracture
- A new implant is placed in patients who have chosen to remove and replace their implant. Depending on the situation, this may involve changing the implant from a position beneath the chest wall muscle to one on top of it, or vice versa.
- Patients who have chosen to replace their implant with natural tissue reconstruction undergo the procedure they selected with their doctor.
- Patients who have opted not to have any type of reconstruction may need to have excess skin removed to create a flat contour
- Recovery varies based on implant removal choice.
Risks & Benefits
Implant removal surgery risks are largely tied to whether the patient chooses to have a new breast reconstruction at the same time. If the patient chooses to have a corrective reconstructive procedure, the risks are the same as those associated with undergoing that procedure right after mastectomy. The procedure typically comes with minimal risk for those who decide against replacement.
Implant removal and corrective surgery can be extremely emotionally and physically restorative for patients who are unhappy or uncomfortable with their breast reconstruction. Removal without further reconstructive can also be liberating for women who make that choice.