Breast Implant Removal (explantation)
Breast augmentation with implants is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures performed by Plastic Surgeons worldwide. Many women love the results and never have problems with their implants. But not everyone decides to keep their implants for a lifetime. Breast implant removal – also known as explantation, is one of the procedures I commonly perform at my Sacramento practice. There are many reasons why my patients decide to have their implants removed. Some women have had changes over time and their breasts are now larger than they used to be and they no longer need the added volume of an implant. Other patients may feel that as they age, a smaller breast suits their desired look better than when they were younger. Some women – particularly some of my middle aged patients- become very active in sports and feel that the large breasts make it harder to excel in vigorous activities. Then again, some women are concerned that breast implants could be causing them health problems – they may be especially concerned with Breast Implant-Associated Illness (BIA) or Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).
Breast Implant Associated Illness: I have met and treated many women who have health concerns that could be associated with their breast implants. I’d like to make my personal position very clear here: there isn’t, to my knowledge, anything that is good for everyone. The example I like to use is milk. Milk is a good, healthy product. But I am lactose intolerant so it is far from healthy for me. Breast implants are – overall- a wonderful option for breast enhancement or reconstruction. But just like every product in the world: I think it would be foolish to assume that every single person is going to love them forever. To my knowledge there are no conclusive studies at this time showing a cause- effect between breast implants and certain medical problems. Having said that, I believe that breast implants are wonderful for almost everyone- but not for everyone! If you have developed symptoms of BIA and would like your implants removed, I would be happy to examine you and explain all the options as well as the risks and benefit of each of them to you. The options range from simple explantation (implant removal) to explantation with breast reconstruction or lift and – in very selected cases- en block resection of the scar around the implant. If you’d like to make an appointment and discuss your options, I’d be happy to see you.
ALCL: recently I was interviewed a few times in the morning news because the FDA banned a certain type of texturized (rough surfaced) breast implants. The problem, simply stated, is that in some patients (about one in 3000) with this particular type of implant had developed a rare type of cancer in the scar around the implant. The FDA decided to ban these implants. Their current recommendation for patients who have one of the banned implants is to remove them only if they cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness or other. I have treated patients who had developed symptoms and I have also treated patients who requested implant removal just for their peace of mind.
Can You Benefit from Breast Implant removal?
You may benefit from breast implant removal if you feel that you no longer need or want your implants or if you fear that your implants may be associated to some health concerns. Please do understand that if you have health concerns related to your implant, I have no way of confirming that these are related nor can I predict if removing your implants will help with other health concerns. Most women can achieve beautiful, smaller breasts after implant removal with either implant removal alone or combined with a breast lift. In order to be eligible for breast implant removal (or any other surgery), you must also be in overall good health. Your full medical history will be evaluated and discussed during the consultation phase.
Implant Removal Explained
Breast implant removal is performed under anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain during surgery. The first step of the procedure is to create incisions on the breast. The exact incision technique I use will depend on several factors, including your skin quality and your preferences. In most cases, I can create the incision along the scar from the breast implant placement. For patients who need extensive breast lifting and reshaping, I extend the incision along the breast crease or around the nipple.
Through these incisions, I remove the existing implants. If you have hard, thick areas of scar, I may remove scar tissue again. For selected patients (i.e. those testing positive for ALCL) a complete resection of scar tissue (“en-block resection”) would be indicated. I do not recommend removing the scar on the backside of the implant for most patients as it can cause damage to the tissue between the ribs and even complications such as lung injury or chronic pain).
Once the implants (and possibly scar tissue) are removed, I can reshape and reposition the underlying breast tissue with the goal of creating an attractive and youthful breast contour. The incisions are closed with sutures. A compression garment is placed on top to support your breasts as they heal. The initial recovery period usually takes one to two weeks. After that point, you will be able to return to work. The results are usually seen a few weeks after breast lift and will continuously improve up to a year after surgery.
Take the Next Step
Breast implant removal lift is an outpatient procedure, but it is still major surgery. Therefore, it cannot be overstated how important it is to work with a plastic surgeon whose skill and experience you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. At my practice, I strive to treat each patient the way I would like my family to be treated. It is very important to me that you feel completely at ease so I can get a clear understanding of what your needs are and ensure that your goals are met. I really enjoy spending time with my patients before surgery. I would never want to have an operation if the surgeon hasn’t explained all the details to me first and answered all my questions. Neither should you!
If you would like to learn more about breast implant removal, please schedule a consultation with my office today. I would be happy to talk with you and answer all your questions.
Contact Dr. Pirko Today
Monday – Friday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm