What can I expect from an implant replacement or removal?

Most implants can be removed quite easily, even under local anaesthesia. Polyurethane covered implants (Polytech) can be more difficult to extract, if one wants to remove all the foam covering. The breasts will resume its’ normal shape and volume over a few weeks, but one must remember that the breasts are now a little older and may be stretched by pregnancy and weight gain. Some patients therefore will elect to have a mastopexy (breast lift) to take up loose skin, raise the nipples and firm up the tissues. Usually, patients will wait to see how they feel about their breasts without implants, but the breast lift can be done at the same time as implant removal.

Sometimes patients will want to have a new implant to replace the old one. The prostheses may be very old, of poor shape due to capsule formation, or rarely ruptured. You may just want to adjust the size. This can be a simple swap, but if the implant is significantly smaller or larger or the capsule must be removed, then it is more complicated. Capsules can just be released by making incisions into the capsule allowing it to stretch, but if the capsule is tough or calcified it will need to be totally removed. In which case, you might even need a drain for a day or so.

Recovery will just a little slower than the original augmentation. You should be working from home in a couple of days and travelling into work within a week, well supported by a sports bra or equivalent.

Incidentally one often sees the old wives tale in magazines that all implants should be replaced every 10 years. This is simply not the case. If implants are looking good and feeling good there is no reason to touch them. If the shape changes with pregnancy, weight loss or capsule, then it is up to the patient whether it is a significant issue for her to consider a change. Rarely if there is a sudden unexplained change in shape due to rupture or a tumour is suspected then your surgeon may well recommend surgery and removal or change of implant.

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