A woman’s body image and desires for her body change over time. Additionally, breasts change due to aging, pregnancy, and weight fluctuations. A woman who has had breast implants placed may be happy with them for a period, but may wish to have them removed later. Breast implants may also be removed due to rupture, scarring, or other factors. 23,770 women underwent this procedure in 2013, which is only about 8% as many implant removals as breast augmentation procedures. As breast implant technology has improved and fearmongering over breast implant safety has faded, dramatically fewer women are choosing to remove their implants, with the number of procedures in 2013 just over half of the number in 2000.
If you’re choosing breast implant removal surgery, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that breast implant removal is right for you, then proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of having your breast implants removed at Breast Implant Removal: Risks and Benefits.
If you have concerns about the safety of your breast implants, please discuss them with your regular physician or your plastic surgeon; you may be surprised to learn that breast implants have been demonstrated to be safe by scientific research.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective surgery with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the surgeon who will perform your surgery if you decide to proceed.
How it’s done
If you’re thinking about this procedure, then you’ve experienced a breast augmentation surgery. The implant removal process is similar, though it takes less time. You will be put under general anesthesia, and the area will be cleaned with a liquid which may temporarily stain the skin yellow. Incisions will then be made, directly over the old incisions if possible so that you won’t have new scars. The breast implants are removed, which may require breaking up scar tissue within your body. The incisions are then sewn closed again with several layers of suture. The outer layer may be fine suture, skin adhesive, or medical tape.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your surgeon
You may or may not want to choose the same surgeon who placed your breast implants. Either way, you want a highly-trained professional with experience in this type of surgery. A member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has received at least six years of surgical training after medical school, with three of those specifically in plastic surgery. Look for the designation “ASPS” after the surgeon’s name. Also, choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and safe, and who listens to you and tries to understand your goals. If you have friends who’ve had cosmetic surgery, and you like their results, ask for a referral. While cost may be a consideration, don’t allow this to override more important factors in your decision. Your safety and the quality of your results are worth a little extra spending.
For more help in your search for a plastic surgeon, visit our How to Find the Best Plastic Surgeon page. At Doctor Review, you can also search providers for patient reviews to help you find the very best.
Getting ready for surgery
You will likely have only one appointment with your surgeon before surgery, unless you’re having your implants replaced with different ones. If this is the case, you’ll need a second appointment to choose the size of your new implants, similar to the one you had to choose your old implants.
The day before your surgery, you should eat and drink enough healthy food and water, and get enough sleep the night before. You will need to stop eating 8 to 12 hours before your surgery. If you smoke, you should stop for at least 24 hours before the surgery. If you take daily medications to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin, you will likely be asked to stop those for 24 to 48 hours before the surgery (proceed as directed by your doctor, and don’t stop any medication without talking to your doctor first).
You will remain in the recovery room for several hours after surgery, to ensure that the anesthesia has completely worn off. After being sent home, you should plan on 24 to 48 hours of rest in your home, and your activity will be reduced (no strenuous exercise or lifting heavy objects) for about a week or two following surgery. You may have a thin tube called a drain placed under your skin, to prevent excess fluid from collecting and delaying your healing. You can resume your normal activity at the direction of your surgeon, who will see you for at least one postoperative visit several days after surgery. If sutures were used to close the skin, they’ll likely be removed at this appointment. If drains were placed, they will also likely be removed by your surgeon at this visit, unless there’s a need for them to stay in longer.
Make sure you take it easy during your recovery! Too much activity could delay your healing and may lead to your scars or implants not looking ideal. It’s also very important to take care of your incisions, keeping them clean and watching for signs of infection, and to wear your support bra to minimize swelling and allow healing. Even after you’re cleared to resume normal activity, you should expect to have some soreness and swelling for around 4-6 weeks after surgery. It may take a year or even longer for the incision lines to fully fade, though they will eventually become nearly invisible in most women.