Breast Implant Removal by Melissa Johnson MD, FACS
Breast Implant Removal
Breast Explant Surgery
Breast Implant Removal or Breast Explant Surgery is done to remove breast implants that have been placed after breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery. During the surgery, the implant and any implant material that has leaked out of the implant is removed. The procedure can be done for both saline or silicone implants, smooth or textured implants, and round or anatomic shaped implants.
The scar tissue (capsule) surrounding the implant may also be removed if beneficial. In most cases, the capsule is soft and thin and does not cause trouble. However, in some instances the capsule can become thick and hard causing pain and misshapen breast implants. See our Breast Implant Removal FAQs.
The need for breast implant removal
There are over 5 million women in the United States with breast implants. For the majority of these women, a breast augmentation has improved their self-esteem and has made them more confident about their appearance.
However, there is a very small percentage of women that undergo a breast augmentation that begin to have unexplained symptoms. For many years the safety of breast implants has been very controversial. So much so that from 1992 to 2006, the FDA restricted the use of silicone implants due to their possible association to autoimmune diseases and systemic symptoms. During that period, no studies could confirm that the implants were causing serious or chronic diseases. Therefore, in 2006, the FDA re-introduced the use of silicone implants for breast reconstruction patients and for breast augmentations patients over 22 years of age.
Unfortunately, the safety of breast implants has remained very controversial. It is known that with breast augmentation surgery there is a risk of infection, rupture of the implants, seroma formation around the implant, capsular contracture, and the need for revision or replacement surgery.
Over the past few years, there have also been up to 300 cases of BI-ALCL (Breast-implant Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) in the United States. This is not breast cancer, it is a cancer of the immune system that develops around the implants. It is extremely rare. It has been associated with textured implants.
Also, for years there have been women who developed unexplained symptoms after having breast implants placed. Women were experiencing chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, muscle weakness, joint pain, memory loss, morning stiffness, and dermatologic symptoms. All these symptoms mimicked an autoimmune disease, however, in the end there was never an association established between breast implants and systemic diseases.
In December 2013, a group in the Netherlands, conducted a descriptive cohort study to identify a possible pattern of symptoms in women with silicone implants and unexplained systemic symptoms. There were 80 women in this study and 75% of them had some type of pre-existing allergy prior to breast implant surgery. Many of the women had a period of years with no symptoms. Then more than 65% of them began to develop fatigue, muscle pains, joint pains, and morning stiffness. After explantation, 36 of 52 women experienced significant decrease in symptoms. They concluded that women who have pre-existing allergies may be more intolerant to silicone or other substances in their implants. Also, 69% of the women felt better after removing their implants. Therefore, they believe physicians should recognize a pattern of symptoms and refer patients for possible implant explantation.
We Love Questions!
Breast Implant Removal FAQs
Am I a good candidate for breast implant removal?
During your consultation, Dr. Johnson will discuss whether you are a good candidate to have your implants removed. She will discuss the surgery in full detail along with risks and complications. Once you are fully informed, you will be able to decide if breast implant removal surgery is for you.
How should I prepare for my breast implant removal surgery consultation?
Researching breast implant removal surgery on reputable internet sites such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons can provide an informative overview. The best information for your personal case, however, will be obtained by making an appointment and speaking with your surgeon. It may also be helpful to view before and after photos of patients that have had the procedure. It's best to view photos of patients with a similar body type as yours. Remember to write down any questions or concerns you have so they can be addressed at your consultation. Know what your surgical expectations are so your surgeon can discuss them with you. If you are a smoker we recommend you quit to help reduce the risk of wound healing. We also recommend a healthy lifestyle to help your recovery process.
Will I be seen by the surgeon?
Yes. Dr. Johnson will meet with you and she will discuss all your surgical options. Dr. Johnson will provide you with the necessary information so that you feel confident and comfortable with your surgical decision.
Will I be charged for an initial consultation?
Yes. There is a $100 consultation fee. If you choose to have surgery with Dr. Johnson, the $100 will go towards it.
Is the plastic surgeon board certified?
Yes. Dr. Johnson is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and is a proud member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Additionally, she is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which recognizes surgeons who specialize in cosmetic plastic surgery.
Are there different types of Implant Removal Procedures?
The goal of any implant removal surgery is to remove all implant material and capsule if needed. The surgery can be performed through the same incision that was created at the time of the augmentation or reconstruction, or a new longer incision may need to be made in order to remove the implant and capsule intact.
What is the surgical process?
The surgery is performed at a hospital. During surgery you will receive general anesthesia. The surgery will take between 1-2 hours. Once you are awake you are taken to the recovery room for another 1-2 hours and then discharged home.
Where will my surgery be performed?
Dr. Johnson has privileges at Baystate Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center. Both are accredited by the Joint Commission and have been awarded the Gold Seal of Approval, and both are conveniently located in Springfield, MA.
What is the recovery process?
The first couple of days you may feel discomfort and pressure of the chest. You will notice that the discomfort decreases with each passing day. You are sent home on pain medications which will decrease your discomfort. We will recommend that you wear a sports bra after surgery to provide support. We request that you do no heavy lifting for at least one month following surgery.
Are there risks involved with breast implant removal?
Yes, there are risks with any surgical procedure. The most common risks with implant removal are infection, pain, fluid collections, hematoma, asymmetry, ptosis, unsatisfactory result.
Will my insurance cover breast implant removal surgery?
In some instances, insurance carriers cover the cost of removing breast implants. We can attempt to get prior authorization through your insurance carrier.
Can I finance my breast explant procedure?
Yes. We offer patient financing through CareCredit or ALPHAEON CREDIT. See our Financing FAQs for more information.
What forms of payment are accepted?
We accept all major credit cards, debit cards, cash, money orders, and certified bank checks, or you can finance through CareCredit.
Can I make payments online?
Yes. You can make credit card payments securely online.