How do you get an implant removed?

Getting an implant removed is a common procedure that many people undergo for various reasons. The most important factors when considering implant removal are ensuring the procedure is done safely and completely by an experienced surgeon. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the implant removal process, including the reasons for removal, what to expect during surgery, recovery and results.

What are the most common reasons for getting an implant removed?

There are several main reasons people choose to undergo implant removal surgery:

  • Dissatisfaction with implant results – This includes concerns over implant size, shape, placement or symmetry. Many patients opt for removal if the implants did not meet their goals or expectations.
  • Capsular contracture – Scar tissue surrounding the implant tightens, making the breast feel firm and painful. Removal is often necessary to treat this complication.
  • Implant rupture or leaking – Saline implants can deflate due to shell leakage, while silicone implants may rupture and leak gel. In either case, removal is recommended.
  • Infection – Bacteria introduced during the original surgery or a subsequent procedure can lead to infection requiring implant removal.
  • Implant migration – The implant shifts out of place, often downward toward the abdominal area, necessitating removal.
  • Breast cancer diagnosis – Patients diagnosed with breast cancer usually require implants be removed prior to radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.
  • Pregnancy – Some women choose to have their implants removed prior to or after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Change in lifestyle – Major weight changes, vigorously physical jobs or activities may prompt implant removal.

For cosmetic reasons, some patients decide to have their implants removed to return to a smaller breast size or because they feel their implants are too large. Others experience systemic symptoms they associate with their breast implants and wish to have them taken out.

How do I find a surgeon to remove implants?

It’s important to thoroughly research surgeons when choosing who will perform your explant procedure. Ideal candidates are:

  • Board-certified plastic surgeons with years of experience performing both implant placement and removal procedures.
  • Trained specifically in explant techniques like en bloc capsulectomy removal.
  • Focused on patient education, safety and achieving optimal results.
  • Affiliated with a local accredited hospital with privileges to perform implant removal surgery.
  • Have an aesthetic sensibility to minimize visible scarring or deformity.

Online review sites, before-and-after photo galleries, testimonials and consultations allow you to vet potential surgeons. Make sure you communicate your specific goals and expectations. Achieving the best explant outcome requires an experienced, meticulous surgeon you trust fully.

What are the steps of the implant removal procedure?

The explant process involves several important steps:

  1. Anesthesia – General anesthesia is typically used for full implant removal and capsulectomy procedures to keep patients fully unconscious and comfortable.
  2. Incision – The surgeon will make an incision, usually along the scar from the original breast augmentation surgery. Incision size, type and placement depends on implant location.
  3. Implant removal – Using meticulous dissection, the surgeon will carefully separate the implant from surrounding breast tissue and loosen any adhesions or scar tissue attaching it.
  4. Capsule removal – Depending on the specific technique planned, all or part of the scar tissue capsule around the implant will be excised and extracted.
  5. Pocket irrigation – The empty implant pocket is thoroughly irrigated with sterile saline solution to cleanse bacteria or contaminants.
  6. Pocket modification – Excess pocket tissue may be removed or folded to optimize shape and prevent fluid buildup after explant.
  7. Incision closure – Absorbable sutures layered within the breast tissue securely close the incision site(s).
  8. Dressings and compression – Bandages, tape and a surgical bra are applied to support the breasts as they heal post-surgery.

The procedure typically takes 1-2 hours depending on the surgeon???s technique for that patient. Immediately after surgery, patients recover in a post-anesthesia care unit before being discharged home.

What are the different methods of implant removal and capsulectomy?

Various specific techniques exist for removing breast implants and dealing with the surrounding scar capsule, including:

  • Total capsulectomy – The entire capsule is removed intact. This is the most invasive option but decreases recurrence risks.
  • Partial capsulectomy – Only fragments of the capsule are excised around the implant pocket.
  • Capsulotomy – The capsule is opened to release the implant but left in place.
  • En bloc removal – The implant is removed intact within its surrounding scar capsule.

Surgeons may also utilize a layered, meticulous approach to gently separate the capsule tissues from the chest wall muscle and breast glandular tissues. This strategic dissection protects structures and blood supply to optimize results.

The capsule technique utilized depends on the specifics of each patient’s case, goals and surgeon preference. Discuss all options thoroughly before surgery.

How can I prepare for breast implant removal surgery?

Proper preparation is key to smooth, successful implant removal. Here are some top tips for getting ready:

  • Have lab testing done 1-2 weeks before surgery as required by your surgeon.
  • Discontinue medications that thin the blood like aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins and herbal supplements.
  • Arrange a ride home from the surgical center and someone to stay with you the first 24 hours.
  • Stock up on soft, comfortable foods as well as items you’ll need during recovery like gauze, polysporin, etc.
  • Prepare a space to rest and recover with plenty of pillows, entertainment, and loose, button-down shirts.
  • Take care of responsibilities beforehand so you can focus solely on healing after.
  • Set realistic expectations about surgery and be open with your surgeon about your goals.

Following all of your surgeon’s pre-operative instructions will set you up for the most comfortable, easiest implant removal process.

What happens during breast implant removal recovery?

The first few days after explant surgery are focused on initial healing and managing common side effects. Here’s what to expect:

  • Bandages – Bulky gauze dressings will be removed 1-2 days post-op and replaced with lighter tape and dressings.
  • Discomfort – Swelling, tightness, stiffness and mild-moderate pain are normal initially. Oral medication helps control symptoms.
  • Compression garment – A surgical bra or compression wrap minimizes swelling and supports new implant pockets.
  • Drainage tubes – You’ll have one or more thin tubes to collect fluid and prevent fluid buildup. They’re removed after 1-2 weeks.
  • Activity restrictions – Avoid lifting, pulling, pushing or straining for at least 2 weeks. Follow all of your surgeon’s activity instructions.
  • Scar care – Incisions will be sensitive, raised and reddened for a few months as they continue remodeling.

Make sure to attend all follow-up visits so your surgeon can monitor your progress, fluid buildup, scarring and healing. Report any concerning symptoms promptly.

What are the results of breast implant removal like?

Implant removal aims to return the breasts to a natural state, but some changes are to be expected:

  • Decreased breast size and fullness, especially if you previously had large implants.
  • Breasts that sit slightly lower on the chest wall.
  • Visible surgical scarring where incisions were made.
  • A small degree of asymmetry between your breasts.
  • Potentially greater skin laxity depending on your skin elasticity.

With proper surgical techniques, scarring can be minimal. Your surgeon may recommend a breast lift to tighten loose skin and reposition breasts after explant.

For many patients, the aesthetic trade-offs are worth it to have their implants and capsules fully removed. Discuss realistic expectations for your case with your surgeon.

What are the costs involved with implant removal surgery?

The costs of explant procedures vary based on factors like:

  • Surgeon’s fees
  • Surgical facility charges
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Prescription medications
  • Compression garments
  • Complexity of the procedure
  • Geographic location

Simple saline implant removals typically range from $3,000-6,000, not including fees like facility charges. Silicone or ruptured implant removal costs more – from $6,000-10,000 on average. Total costs with hospital or surgical center fees can reach $15,000 or more.

Revisions, capsule removal techniques, lifts or other custom procedures also increase costs. Health insurance rarely covers cosmetic breast implant removal.

Can I finance my breast implant removal surgery?

Since implant removal is usually considered cosmetic, insurance typically won’t cover it. But don’t let cost deter you – many financing options exist:

  • Ask your surgeon about payment plans or financing they offer.
  • Apply for a healthcare credit card with deferred interest promotions.
  • Use a flexible spending account or health savings account funds if available.
  • Consider medical tourism for more affordable options abroad.
  • Apply for credit through sites like CareCredit or Prosper Healthcare Lending.
  • Use crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe if you meet income requirements.

Shop around and speak to your surgeon, advisors and financing companies to find the best option. Many women prioritize removing uncomfortable, problematic implants even if it costs more upfront.

What are the potential risks or complications from implant removal?

All surgeries carry some risks, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Loss of nipple sensation
  • Impacted or visible scarring
  • Breast contour or shape irregularities

Choosing an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in explant procedures greatly reduces these risks. Be sure to follow all pre- and post-operative instructions they provide.

Can I have a breast lift or other procedures done at the same time?

It’s common to combine explantation with additional procedures like:

  • Breast lift (mastopexy) – Elevates droopy breasts and tightens loose skin after implants are removed.
  • Breast reduction – Reshapes enlarged breasts to make them smaller for comfort and aesthetics.
  • Fat transfer breast augmentation – Uses your body’s fat to enhance breast fullness without implants.
  • Capsule biopsy – Samples of breast capsule tissue can be analyzed to check for issues.

Combining procedures may achieve better overall results and potentially lower costs since you undergo anesthesia once. Not all patients need or want additional procedures. Discuss all options with your surgical team.

Should I have my breast implants removed?

If you’re experiencing complications or dissatisfaction with your implants, removal may be the right choice after weighing pros and cons:

Potential pros:

  • Resolve discomfort, hardness, distortion or asymmetry.
  • Eliminate concerns over silent rupture, capsular contracture or leakage risks.
  • Improve appearance and proportion if implants were too large or misplaced.
  • Alleviate anxiety or suspected autoimmune issues associated with implants.

Potential cons:

  • Higher costs and surgical risks if you undergo removal for cosmetic reasons.
  • Potentially less satisfactory breast appearance after explant.
  • Scarring from additional surgery.
  • Possibility of needing replacement implants or a breast lift later.

Carefully assessing your situation, health, goals and alternatives helps determine whether removing implants is right in your specific case or not. Discuss all pros and cons with your care team.


Breast implant removal is a very personal decision that warrants thoughtful consideration of your options. By selecting an experienced, reputable surgeon, understanding the procedural steps and recovery details, and setting realistic expectations, you can achieve safe, satisfactory results from explant surgery if you decide it’s right for you. Weighing potential benefits and downsides can help you make the best choice about removing your implants or not.

Pros Cons
Resolve discomfort or complications Surgical risks
Improve appearance if implants too large Higher costs if only for cosmetic reasons
Alleviate concerns over rupture or leakage Potentially less optimal breast appearance
Eliminate capsular contracture Additional scarring

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