Menu Contact Location Gallery Patient Login

Breast Implant Removal

Breast implant removal, also known as explantation, is a surgery to remove saline or silicone breast implants that were placed during a breast augmentation or breast reconstruction procedure. Although breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries performed each year, with an incredibly high satisfaction rate, some women choose to later have their implants removed—either for cosmetic or medical reasons. Since breast implants are not lifetime devices, they will most likely need to be exchanged or removed after about 10 to 15 years. The decision to have your breast implants removed is very personal, and our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Neil J. Zemmel, will help you find the best possible solution for your health and overall wellbeing.

What Is Breast Implant Illness & BIA-ALCL?

Breast implant illness (BII) is the name of a range of symptoms many women believe are caused by their breast implants. While the FDA has conducted extensive research on breast implant safety, no scientific evidence has directly linked breast implants with systemic illness. Although the existence of BII has not been proven, Dr. Zemmel understands the symptoms many women suffer from are very serious, and he strives to help these individuals find the best solution for their needs.

One type of BII that has gained more attention is Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This is an extremely rare and highly treatable type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. Research has found that certain types of breast implants are linked to a higher rate of BIA-ALCL. This condition develops within the capsule around the breast implant and is different from breast cancer.

While there is an incredibly low risk of BIA-ALCL occurring, Allergan® officially recalled its textured breast implants and textured expanders in July 2019, in response to new research revealing a potential connection. The FDA has advised those with one of the recalled products to not seek removal, unless symptoms have presented.

Should I Have My Breast Implants Removed?

Ideal candidates for breast implant removal should be in generally good health and have realistic expectations about their outcome. If you can relate to one or more of the following reasons for explantation, you may want to schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon to discuss your removal options.

  • Would like a breast implant revision to exchange your implants for another size or type
  • Capsular contracture has developed (scar tissue hardening around the implant)
  • Suspect you may have a type of breast implant illness, such as BIA-ALCL
  • A breast implant leak or other complication has occurred
  • No longer want breast implants

During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss your medical history and goals with breast implant removal. After examining your breasts, they will recommend the most beneficial plan for your implant removal, explaining the risks of surgery and what you may be able to expect with your results.

What Does Breast Implant Removal En Bloc Entail?

To maximize your safety and reduce the risk of post-operative complications, Dr. Zemmel prefers to utilize the en bloc technique when performing explantations. Breast implant removal en bloc, or a total capsulectomy, entails removing the breast implant while it is inside its capsule of scar tissue. This is especially beneficial for patients who have a ruptured implant or are experiencing symptoms of BIA-ALCL or another type of breast implant illness. By removing the implant and capsule as a whole, any leaked fluid or leftover material will remain inside the capsule for the most effective removal.

Before your surgery, your surgeon will thoroughly explain breast implant removal en bloc, ensuring you fully understand the benefits and risks of your procedure.

What Should I Expect After Breast Implant Removal?

The recovery from breast implant removal surgery will be different for each individual, based on the details of their surgical plan and how their body heals. Swelling is normal and gradually fades; you will be instructed to wear compression garments to help control swelling and assist with the healing process. Any pain can typically be well-controlled with pain medication. In most cases, patients can return to their usual activities after one week. By one to two weeks after surgery, any drains that were placed are typically removed. It is important not to exert yourself too much after surgery, avoiding strenuous activities for about six weeks. Smoking should also be avoided leading up to and following surgery, as this can interfere with your body’s ability to heal.

How Will My Breasts Look After Implant Removal?

Some patients may experience a similar breast appearance to what they had naturally prior to breast implant removal surgery. Typically, this happens if the breast implants were relatively small or the individual has excellent skin elasticity. There are several factors that can affect the outcome, including the size of the implants being removed, the amount and quality of remaining breast tissue, scar tissue around the implants, and the length of time the implants resided. Patients may notice breast sagging or flatter breast contours post-procedure, as the surrounding skin and ligaments have been stretched out by the implants. Dr. Zemmel works with each patient to form a complete treatment plan and will individually discuss how your breasts may appear after implant removal.

Will I Need a Lift with My Breast Implant Removal?

Depending on your aesthetic goals and personal needs, you may want to consider a breast lift in addition to, or sometime after, breast implant removal surgery. For patients hoping to restore a more youthful breast appearance, position, and shape, a breast lift may be advisable – especially if the implants are a larger size. During the breast lift procedure, the breast tissue is lifted, excess skin is removed, and nipples / areolas can be repositioned or resized to offer a more rejuvenated look.

During your consultation, Dr. Zemmel will review your cosmetic wish list as well as skin quality, breast implant size, how long you’ve had the implants, and other factors to find the best treatment plan for you.

Does Insurance Cover Breast Implant Removal?

Certain circumstances may allow for some insurance plans to cover partial or full breast implant removal surgery; however, this will largely depend on the reason and requirements of the procedure. The team at Richmond Aesthetic Surgery will be able to discuss any possible insurance benefits, as well as finance options available, once you have been evaluated during the consultation.

What Complications Are Associated with Breast Implant Removal?

As with all surgical procedures, breast implant removal carries risks of potential complications. These risks can be reduced when the procedure is performed by an experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon. It is always recommended to do proper research and find a skilled plastic surgeon who has extensive training and experience, fully explains what the procedure entails, and thoroughly addresses your questions and concerns.

Potential risks and complications associated with breast implant removal surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding or hematoma
  • Loss of sensation or numbness in the breasts, skin, or nipples
  • Fluid buildup
  • Skin discoloration or scarring
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Abnormal pain or swelling

Our surgeon is vastly experienced in performing a wide range of plastic surgery procedures. During your consultation, he will thoroughly review the risks of breast implant removal surgery and talk with you about the ways in which he can minimize those risks.

How Much Does Breast Implant Removal Cost?

The cost for breast implant removal costs approximately $5,000-$7,000, which covers the surgeon’s fee, operating room and facilities charges, anesthesia fees post operative compression garments, and routine postoperative visits. For en bloc capsulectomy and implant removal the total fees range from $8,000-$10,000 depending on the complexity of the procedure. During your consultation, you will be provided with a cost quote to help you understand the fees associated with your implant removal procedure, such as anesthesia and operating room facilities. If you would like to learn how financing can make your cost more manageable, our team would be happy to help you get started.

Back to Top