Breast Implant Removal
Like any mechanical device, your breast implants will not last for ever. Studies have shown that by 10-15 years most implants will require some type of revisional surgery. That being said, if your breast implants look and feel fine, and imaging shows nothing abnormal, then surgery is not recommended, regardless of how long they have been in place. We recommend having the implants imaged at 10 years to check their integrity.
Women have many reasons to have their implants removed. With time the implants can harden, in a process known as “capsular contracture”, they may rupture, or their breasts may change shape with age, weight fluctuation, or following pregnancy and breast feeding. Some patients just never feel their implants are a part of their body and wish to have them removed.
Information to Bring to Your Consultation
It is always helpful if you have some information an exactly what brand your implants are and what size they are, so if you have this please bring it along to the consultation. It is also helpful to bring to the consultation any breast imaging that you have done.
During the consult, Dr Lotz will discuss exactly what you would like done. Some patients just wish to have their implants removed, but you may wish to have them replaced with implants of the same or a different size, or you may require a breast lift after they are removed. Removing implants is a good opportunity to address any other concerns you may have about your breasts.
After your consultation you will be sent a detailed quotation which outlines all surgery costs for breast implant removal. There may be some coverage by your health fund if implants are being removed only, but if you wish to have your implants replaced then this is considered totally cosmetic and the health funds will not usually cover any of the surgery.
It is important that you stop any blood thinning medications at least 10 days prior to surgery in order to reduce the risk of bleeding.
You should also cease smoking a month before and a month after your surgery to reduce the risk of skin healing problems.
You will have a second consultation a week or two prior to your surgery to answer any final questions you may have, and photographs will be taken to aid planning your surgery. At this consultation the final decision about you breast implant will be made.
After the surgery
Post-operative Recovery and Care
You will be seen by Dr Lotz the next morning, and depending on how you are recovering and what is in the drain you may be discharged. The dressings are all waterproof and you can shower normally.
If you are being sent home with the drain in place, you will be given instructions as to how to manage it.
You will be seen a week after the surgery and the wound will be checked. Most patients are back at work 1-2 weeks after surgery, and you can drive a week after your operation.
Risks of breast implant removal
- Anaesthetic (nausea, vomiting, allergy)
- Numbness of the breast or nipple
- Visible chest deformity if your implants have been in a long time
- Loose skin
- Unhappiness about losing your breast volume
These risks will all be explained in detail to you during the consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
All breast implants have a lifespan and will not last forever. Therefore, if you are thinking about having breast augmentation surgery you will need to plan for replacement surgery later in life. The life of an average breast implant is usually somewhere between 10 and 15 years. As your body changes over your lifetime with the influence of hormones, pregnancies, menopause and weight gain or loss, the size of your original implants may become inappropriate over time for your changed shape and this too might cause a desired change in implants. Nothing lasts forever.
Breast implants can go hard due to what is called “capsular contracture”. A capsule is caused by a build-up of scar tissue around the implant. This hardening is more common with the silicone filled breast implants, especially when they are positioned behind in front of the chest muscle. The risk of capsular contracture increases with time.
Whilst some of the newer textured implants claim to have a reduced rate of capsular contracture, they too are not without their problems as textured implants have been implicated in concerns about ALCL (Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma).
Breast implant associated ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma) is a cancer of the immune system caused by breast implants. It is generally found in fluid collection in between the implant and capsule, and usually presents as a swelling of the breast. It occurs in association predominantly with textured breast implants with a rate between 1 in 2200 and 1 in 86000 (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, October 2019). The average time from surgery to diagnosis is 8 years. Removal of the implant and the capsule is required and it usually has a good prognosis. As of March 2020, only 4 women in Australia have died from this in the last 10 years.
Note: Dr Lotz uses predominantly Mentor implants which have a relatively low risk of ALCL.
Silicone breast implants have come a long way. The implants are now filled with a highly viscous grade of silicone get that is similar in texture to ‘Turkish Delight’. This substance is more easily contained and removed should the implant rupture and leak. Because no implant will last forever and because small defects in implants may be undetectable for an unspecified period of time, it is recommended that women have regular annual check-ups. Any hardening, suspicions or irregular ultrasounds should be followed by an MRI for a definitive diagnosis. The average life span of all implants averages approximately 10 years and this need for further surgery should be factored into the decisions to have breast implants.
Most patients are back-to-work within a one to two week period after their surgery to have their breast implants removed. You should expect that you will be able to return to full activity around 6 weeks after your surgery.
During your consultation with Dr Lotz, he will discuss with you what your individual needs are for your breast implant removal surgery.
After your consultation you will be sent a detailed and personalised quotation which outlines all surgery costs for breast implant removal. There may be some coverage by your health fund if implants are being removed only, but if you wish to have your implants replaced then this is considered totally cosmetic and health funds will not usually cover any of the surgery.