Over the last few months a number of women have come to my Fort Worth office to have their breast implants removed. It’s a newer trend and there are a few things worth knowing about it.
Reasons for removing breast implants
There are many reasons to consider having breast implants removed. For instance, a woman may tell me she is at a different point in her life than when she underwent her breast augmentation. Her physique and lifestyle may have changed. Some women have new spouses/partners who feel differently about breast implants than their last spouse/partner. Others don’t want to worry about having to undergo more surgery related to their breast implants in the future.
Breast implant illness is a concern for some women. This is a group of symptoms including things like fatigue, hair loss, headaches, photosensitivity, rash, body odor, anxiety, “brain fog”, sleep disturbance, and depression. These symptoms are similar to those of some women who have diagnosed autoimmune disorders. A number of women who have these concerns decide to have their implants removed to see if their symptoms improve. Published studies indicate between 30 and 50% of women note improvement in their symptoms after the implants are removed.
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) has been in the news lately and is concerning to some women. This very rare type of lymphoma has been found in 573 women worldwide who have textured surface breast implants; to date no woman who has only had smooth surface implants has developed this process. When you consider that about 20,000,000 women have had breast implants, this means that about 0.00003% of women who have implants have developed BIA-ALCL. However, some women who have textured surface implants want to have them removed due to concerns about BIA-ALCL. They want to minimize their long-term risks of developing it.
Breast implants wear out over time. Instead of replacing leaking breast implants, some women choose just to remove them.
Remove the implant alone, or do capsulectomies?
When considering having breast implants removed, we need to decide what to do about the scar tissue capsules. Not long after breast implants are placed, a woman naturally forms some scar tissue internally around the breast implants. The scar tissue is referred to as a capsule. A capsulectomy is the surgical removal of this layer.
Sometimes we just remove the implants and do nothing to the scar tissue. We just leave the scar tissue in place. In cases like this, most of the time the scar tissue goes away on its own over time. Removing the implants alone without removing the scar tissue capsule is pretty easy. There’s not much to the procedure. It takes about 30 minutes and the recovery is generally not difficult at all.
The scar tissue capsules can also be removed when the breast implants are removed. This is a little more involved than just removing the implants. There are a couple of ways to do this. Most commonly the implant is removed early in the procedure, then the capsule is removed. Some women want the implant and all of the capsule removed in one big piece. This is called an en bloc capsulectomy. It’s a little more complicated and results in a larger scar.
A capsulectomy is a bigger procedure than just removing the implants. It takes longer, more discomfort is involved, drains are required, and it costs more. Many women select it; it’s really a matter of personal choice for most.
Breast Lift and Fat Grafting options when breast implants are removed
Removing the breast implants results in loss of breast shape and fullness. Breast lift (mastopexy) surgery is a great option for many women. The lower parts of the breasts are tightened and nipples re-positioned. While this does not add fullness, it may significantly enhance the shape and overall appearance of the breasts.
Fat grafting is another good option. To do this, liposuction is performed in areas like the abdomen, flanks, and thighs. The fat obtained is placed in the central and upper breast tissue. This adds some fullness toward the tops of the breasts. Fat grafting does not provide all the shape and fullness that implants do. However, it is a nice option for someone who wants to maintain as much upper breast fullness as possible.
Recovery after Breast implant removal surgery
Recovery varies depending on the specific procedure. Just removing the breast implants rarely requires a drain. Usually the woman is up and around doing pretty normal things one or two days later.
Capsulectomies are a little more difficult. Drains are required and they may remain in place a week or more.
Recovery from fat grafting is rarely very difficult. The liposuction areas are sore for a few days, and there may be some bruising.
Call my office in fort worth!
Ninety-eight percent of women on RealSelf say breast implant removal is worth it. If you or someone you know is considering having breast implants removed, call my Fort Worth office at (817) 335-5200 . I’d love to have a chance to help you understand how each of the options may affect you individually.