Breast implant removal is a surgery to remove breast implants.
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Reasons for Procedure
Breast implants may be removed because of complications, such as:
- Ruptured or deflated implant
- Visible wrinkling or rippling of the implant
- Hardening of the implant
- Reactions to the implant
- Uneven appearance of breasts
- Persistent breast pain following insertion of implants
Women may also need to have implants removed for breast cancer treatment.
The implants may also be removed for cosmetic reasons.
After the implants are removed, the skin will look loose. Another surgery is usually needed to lift the breasts and adjust the tissue and skin. Another option is to have the old implants replaced with new ones.
Your doctor will review other potential problems, like:
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia, such as lightheadedness, low blood pressure, wheezing
- Soreness in throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood clots
- Change in the sensation and appearance of the breast
- Emotional distress due to the change in body image
- The need to have additional surgery such as removing the scar tissue capsule surrounding the implant
Smoking may increase your risk of complications.
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Before the procedure, your doctor will:
- Do a physical exam
Talk to you about:
- How your breasts may look after surgery and what your expectations are
- Whether you want new implants and, if so, the type and size
You may also have blood tests and imaging tests
You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Leading up to your procedure:
- The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- If instructed, shower the morning of the procedure.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital and for help at home.
This surgery may be done with:
- General anesthesia (more common)—blocks pain and keeps you asleep during the surgery
- Local anesthesia—numbs the breasts, but you remain awake
Description of the Procedure
A small incision will be made along the crease beneath the breast. The implant will be removed through the incisions. Extra care will be taken if the implant has ruptured. Thick, hard scar tissue may have developed around the implant area. It will need to be removed during surgery. This will require a larger incision.
Another option includes making an incision in the area around the nipple. The implant will be deflated then removed.
Dissolvable sutures will be used to close up the incisions.
How Long Will It Take?
It takes about 1 hour, but it may take longer if there are complications.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. As you recover, you will have some pain, especially if you have had scar tissue removed. You will be given pain medication.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure may be done in the hospital or surgery center. It may be possible to leave the same day as the procedure. However, you may be asked to stay overnight.
At the Hospital
The hospital staff will monitor you. Your breasts may be wrapped in a compression bandage. Dressings will be placed on the incision sites.
When you return home, use a compression bandage or wear a special bra as advised by your doctor.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications that you were given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
- New or unexpected symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Breast Implant Information
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Breast implant replacement or removal. The Hospital Group website. Available at: http://www.thehospitalgroup.org/cosmetic-surgery/breast-home/implant-replacement. Accessed September 1, 2019.
Breast implant surgery. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm064176.htm. Accessed September 1, 2019.
Risks of breast implants. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/breastimplants/ucm064106.htm. Accessed September 1, 2019.
What you need to know about breast implants. National Research Center for Women & Families website. Available at: http://www.center4research.org/need-know-breast-implants. Accessed September 1, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD Last Updated: 9/11/2020