Does getting the implant changed hurt?

Getting an implant changed or removed is a common procedure, but it’s natural to have questions and concerns, especially about pain. While everyone has a different experience, here is an overview of what to expect.

The short answer

For most people, getting an implant changed does not hurt very much. There may be mild discomfort during the procedure from pressure or tugging. Afterward, you may have some soreness around the incision site as you heal. With pain medication, it is usually manageable.

What causes the pain?

The pain or discomfort from getting an implant changed comes primarily from:

  • The incision to access the implant
  • Manipulating or removing the existing implant
  • Inserting the new implant
  • Swelling, bruising, and sensitivity as you heal after

During the procedure, you will be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the incision. You should only feel pressure or tugging, not sharp pain. Your surgeon will work carefully to minimize any discomfort.

Pain level during the procedure

On a pain scale of 1 to 10, most people rate the pain or discomfort during an implant exchange procedure as 3 or below. The local anesthetic keeps you comfortable.

Some factors that can affect pain include:

  • Location of the implant
  • Difficulty removing the old implant
  • Your pain tolerance

Talk to your surgeon if you are concerned about pain control during the procedure.

Pain after the procedure

It is normal to have some pain, soreness, and tenderness after an implant exchange as the incision heals. This is usually mild to moderate.

You may feel:

  • Tenderness around the incision
  • Bruised feeling around the implant
  • General soreness in the area
  • Tightness from swelling

Your doctor will prescribe medication to manage post-op pain. For the first few days, you may need prescription painkillers like opioids. After that, over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen are usually sufficient.

The severity of pain depends on:

  • Location and size of incision
  • Amount of swelling
  • Pain tolerance

Following your surgeon’s instructions for incision care and activity restrictions will help minimize pain. Any intense or worsening pain should be reported to your doctor.

How long does the pain last?

Here is the general timeline for recovery and how long you may experience pain after an implant exchange:

  • First 48 hours: Maximum pain and discomfort right after surgery as the anesthetic wears off. Pain medication is key during this time.
  • 1 week: Pain should be decreasing but still present. Swelling may cause tightness or soreness. Use medication as needed for comfort.
  • 2-4 weeks: Discomfort around the incision continues to improve. Pain medication may still be needed at times.
  • 1-2 months: Most patients are pain-free as the incision has fully closed. Swelling has resolved.

Call your doctor if pain seems excessive or does not start to improve within a few weeks.

Tips for minimizing pain

Some tips to help reduce pain after an implant exchange include:

  • Take all prescribed pain medication on schedule for the first few days.
  • Apply cold compresses to help reduce swelling.
  • Sleep propped upright with extra pillows to take pressure off your chest.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing that does not rub the incision area.
  • Restrict activity for at least 1-2 weeks after surgery.
  • Ask your surgeon about scar treatments that may help sensitivity or tenderness.

When to call your doctor about pain

Contact your doctor if you have:

  • Severe or worsening pain not relieved by medication
  • Excessive redness, swelling, oozing, or warmth around the incision
  • Fever over 100.4°F
  • Intense headache, neck stiffness, rash, or shortness of breath
  • Pain or symptoms that do not start to get better within a few weeks

Signs like these could indicate an infection or other complication requiring medical treatment.

Pain relief options

Your doctor will talk to you about options for controlling pain after your implant exchange. This may include:

  • Prescription medications: Such as opioids like codeine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone. Used for short-term acute surgical pain relief.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Often sufficient after the first few days.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: To reduce swelling, tenderness, and pain.
  • Muscle relaxants: May help relieve implant tightness or spasm discomfort.
  • Localized anesthesia: Topical ointments, gels, creams, or injections can numb the skin around the incision.
  • Nerve blocks: Injections of anesthetic near the surgery site to temporarily disable pain sensation.

Work with your doctor to find the right medications and dosages to keep pain under control while minimizing side effects.

What about pain after revision surgery?

Revision surgery to correct or improve a previous implant procedure is more complex and involves more extensive manipulation and replacement of the implant.

This often results in more significant pain afterward compared to a simple implant exchange. Releasing scar tissue or removing ruptured silicone gel can increase discomfort.

The same pain management methods are used, but higher doses of medication may be needed initially. Complete pain relief may also take longer—up to 6-8 weeks. Close follow-up with your doctor is recommended if you have a revision.

Does type of implant affect pain?

The type of implant material does not necessarily affect the pain level with an exchange procedure. However, the implant location can have an impact.

Implants in more sensitive areas that require larger incisions tend to have increased pain. For example:

  • Breast implants cause more discomfort than chin or calf implants due to location.
  • Buttock implants involve sitting on an incision, so pain may persist longer.
  • Earlobe implants have minimal pain since the incision is so small.

In general, facial plastic surgery implants—like cheeks, chin, or jaw—have lower pain levels than implants near the chest, torso, hips, or legs.

Key factors that influence pain

Some key factors that can increase pain with an implant exchange include:

  • Large incisions
  • Difficulty removing the previous implant
  • Extensive scar tissue or capsular contracture
  • Combining implant exchange with other procedures like a breast lift
  • Infection or hematoma around original implant
  • Revision surgery instead of simple exchange
  • Implant location in a sensitive or weight-bearing area
  • Your individual pain tolerance

Talk to your surgeon about any aspects that could increase your discomfort so they can take extra precautions and set appropriate expectations.

Pain medication side effects

When taking prescription pain medications, potential side effects to be aware of include:

  • Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting
  • Drowsiness, fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Itching, rash
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Breathing issues
  • Confusion, cognitive changes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Tolerance, dependence, addiction

Over-the-counter medications also have risks like gastrointestinal bleeding or liver damage with excessive use. Talk to your pharmacist about any concerns.

Using the lowest effective dose and tapering off prescription opioids as soon as you can help minimize adverse effects.

Non-medication pain relief

Some non-drug options to help with post-op discomfort include:

  • Cold therapy with ice packs
  • Compression wraps
  • Elevating the implant area
  • Immobilizing with a splint or sling
  • Physical therapy exercises
  • Massage, after incision is closed
  • Relaxation techniques like guided imagery or deep breathing
  • Acupuncture
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

Discuss these with your doctor and use them to complement your pain medication regimen.

Does insurance cover the procedure?

Insurance coverage for implant exchange or removal may vary depending on your plan, the implant type, and the reason for replacement. Some general guidelines on coverage include:

Implant Type Coverage
Breast implants Removal covered if medically necessary. Replacement may not be covered if considered cosmetic.
Orthopedic implants Removal and replacement usually covered if original implant failed or replacement is medically needed.
Dental implants Limited coverage. Considered elective by most plans.
Cosmetic implants Typically not covered as considered elective procedures.

Check with your insurance provider for specifics on your plan. Out-of-pocket costs may apply if you do not get preauthorization.


Changing an implant is usually a straightforward procedure. For most people, it involves only temporary mild to moderate pain that can be controlled with medication.

Open communication with your surgeon and following post-op instructions can help minimize discomfort. See your doctor promptly if you have any concerns about worsening pain or other problems during your recovery.

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