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Removal of Breast Implants

Dr. Kunkel removes breast implants of women from Fort Worth, Arlington, Keller, Southlake, Weatherford, and all areas of North Texas.  Fort Worth physicians have recognized Dr. Kunkel’s outstanding care of patients and have voted him a TopDoc 19 times!

A woman may want to have her breast implants removed for any number of reasons.  There are many things to consider, and a couple of interesting options.

Photo of a doctor showing breast implants to a woman in a white sports bra

Reasons for removing breast implants

A women may tell us she is at a different point in her life than when she underwent her augmentation. She may have changed physically. A woman may have a new spouse/partner who feels differently about breast implants than her last spouse/partner. Others don’t want to worry about having to undergo more surgery in the future related to their breast implants.

Our health tends to decline as we age.  Women who develop autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis usually are in their 40’s when the diagnosis is made.  This is true whether a woman has breast implants or not.  If a woman who has breast implants is diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, she may wonder if her implants are contributing to it.  A woman who is worried about this may decide to have her implants removed.

Breast implant illness may be a concern. This is not a defined medical problem but rather a group of symptoms that includes fatigue, chest pain, hair loss, headaches, chills, pain, rash, body odor, anxiety, brain fog, sleep disturbance, depression, neurologic issues, and hormonal issues. A ’cause and effect’ relationship has not been established between implants and these symptoms.  However, some women with breast implants who have these symptoms note their symptoms improve when the implants are removed.

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is another issue that women have questions about. Of an estimated 20,000,000 women worldwide who have had breast implants, about 900 (0.00003%) have developed this problem. It seems to be related to textured surface breast implants. About 80% of women who developed BIA-ALCL had Allergan textured surface implants. Because of this, in July 2019 the FDA asked  Allergan to recall their textured surface implants. Women who have textured surface implants may decide to have them removed due to concerns about BIA-ALCL. While they may not have BIA-ALCL now, they want to minimize their long-term risks of developing it.

Just remove the implants, or also do capsulectomies?

A thin layer of scar tissue, called a capsule, forms internally around any breast implant.  A capsulectomy is the surgical removal of this layer.

Removal of the implants alone, without removing the scar tissue capsules, is relatively easy to undergo. In most cases the scar tissue goes away over time. Typically no drains are required. Minimal pain, short operation, pretty uneventful recovery.

Women who are concerned about the capsules may want to have them removed. This is a little more involved than just removing the implants. During a routine capsulectomy, most commonly an incision is made in the capsule and the implant is removed. The capsule is removed once the implant has been taken out. Some women prefer to have the entire capsule and implant removed as one big piece. This is called an en bloc capsulectomy. Women who choose this may be concerned about ‘spillage’ of any contents contained within the scar tissue capsule. En bloc capsulectomies require longer incisions than regular capsulectomies, resulting in longer scars.

A capsulectomy is a bigger procedure than just removing the implants. It takes longer, adds some tissue trauma, more discomfort is involved, and it costs more. Many women select it; it’s really a matter of personal choice for most.

Photograph of a woman wearing a bra pushing her breasts up

Do I also need a breast-lift?

Most women have their implants removed without undergoing a breast lift.  However, when the breasts are bottom-heavy a  breast lift may add more shape to the breasts.  Sometimes a woman’s breast tissues may have drooped over the ends of the implants over time.  When the nipples are low, a breast lift may reposition the nipples more centrally on the breasts as the implants are removed.

Photo of fat in syringes for fat grafting in Fort Worth by Dr. Kunkel

Fat grafting after removal of breast implants

Removing breast implants results in a loss of shape and fullness.  Breast lifts may reposition the nipples and tighten the bottoms of the breasts.  However, that does not result in fullness toward the tops of the breasts.  For women who want more shape and fullness at the top of the breasts, fat grafting may be a good option.  It is possible to do liposuction of the abdomen, flanks, and thighs, and place that fat in the breasts.  While this does not replace all of the shape and fullness, it is an option worth considering.

Photograph of a textured surface breast implant and a scalpel

Undergoing surgery to remove breast implants

Removal of breast implants takes place in an outpatient surgical facility in Fort Worth.  The woman is put to sleep for the procedure under the guidance of an anesthesiologist.  Removing the implants usually takes about 30 minutes.  Capsulectomies may add as much as an hour to the procedure.  Breast lifts and fat grafting require additional time.

Photograph of a woman waking up in recovery after surgery

Recovery after Breast implant removal

Most women have fairly minimal pain after having their breast implants removed.  If capsulectomies are required, a drain is placed on each side.  The drains are usually present for about a week or so.  If capsulectomies are not performed, drains may not be required.  Women should return to their normal daily activities as soon as they are comfortable.  Strenuous activities like working out, tennis, golf, and riding horses should be avoided for about a month.  Sitting by a pool and looking great is allowed at any time, but no getting into the pool for about 4 weeks.

How much does it cost to remove breast implants in Fort worth?

These prices include Dr. Kunkel’s fee, the surgical facility fee, and the anesthesia fee. Prescription medications cost extra. Insurance may pay the majority of the costs of these but that varies by insurance company.

  • Removal of breast implants, no additional procedures:  $3,800 – $4,000.
  • Removal breast implants and capsules, no additional procedures:  $4,600 – $7,000.
  • Removal of breast implants (not capsules), with mastopexies (breast lifts):  $7,800 – $8,500.
  • Removal of breast implants (not capsules), with fat grafting:  Price varies depending on the areas undergoing liposuction.

Does insurance pay to remove breast implants?

In most cases insurance does not pay to remove breast implants.  There are some exceptions.  Some insurance plans cover removal of ruptured silicone gel implants.  Removal of ruptured saline implants is almost never covered.  Currently insurance companies do not cover removal of implants for women who have symptoms of breast implant illness.  Insurance companies do tend to cover removal of implants for breast cancer reconstruction patients.



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