The choice to both undergo breast augmentation as well as breast implant removal is an intimately personal decision. In either decision it is important to understand the process and any potential risks.
While breast augmentation is a safe day procedure that has a very high satisfaction rate, a woman may go on to have their implants removed or exchanged. Reasons for this vary. Some women decide that implants are just “not for me” anymore. In the absence of any complications, they may decide that they do not wish to worry about monitoring for the long-term complications. While long term complications such as rupture and capsular contracture can occur, they are uncommon (you are more likely to never have to deal with them than you are to have to deal with them) however implants are ultimately not guaranteed as lifelong devices. Additionally, women’s priorities can change over time and they may no longer wish to have the volume associated with implants or wish to change to smaller implants. A certain type of breast implant has also been associated with a very rare form of lymphoma. While these implants have been pulled off the market there has not been a “recall” on implanted devices. Many women, however, wish to take control of their health and are choosing to have these implants taken out or replaced for peace of mind.
Factors to be considered when removing or exchanging implants include what the implant is filled with (saline or silicone) and if a breast lift might be required. It is not always possible to determine if someone will need a lift when the implants are still in. With saline implants, the option to deflate the implant in clinic allows time for the breast tissue to retract back into position over a period of a few weeks to months and if no lift is required, then often the saline implants can be removed with local anesthetic. Silicone implants, on the other hand, are often better removed in the operating room – especially if there is concern about a ruptured implant. If it is very obvious that a breast lift is required, this can be done at the same time as either the exchange or removal of breast implants.
The biggest changes to the breast after implant removal are a loss of volume and “upper pole fullness” or fullness on the top part of the breast. If the breasts have additionally become droopy over time, then a lift may be required which results in additional scarring on the breasts. As with any surgery, there are risks of infection and bleeding. You are also more likely to require drains compared to when implants are put in. For women that choose to have their implants taken out, satisfaction tends to be quite high despite the recovery time required and the risks associated with surgery.
Every situation is unique depending on the type of implants you have and the changes with your own body. For this reason, it is important to discuss this surgery with a board certified plastic surgeon so they can help you navigate what is the best choice for you!