I want my implants removed. What do I do?

Women seek breast implant removal for a number of reasons, most of which (not all of course) boil down to some variation of:

1.    “My body is just different than it was when I got my implants.”

2.   “I went in for a lift and came out with THESE.”

I will briefly discuss these common complaints below, and then how these problems can be remedied!!

Body Changes:

Breast implants have been around since the early 1960s.  They gained popularity in the decades to follow, becoming widely available in the 70s and 80s.  This means that there are now a relatively large number of women who have had their implants for upwards of 30-40 years! So, the women who had these early implants placed when they were in their twenties are now in their 40s, 50s or even 60s.  Many of these women’s bodies have gone through significant changes…pregnancies, natural weight fluctuations and ultimately menopause.  These women are now re-evaluating their bodies in middle age and finding that the implants “don’t fit” them anymore.  Most of these women relate a relatively happy relationship with their implants when they were younger and thinner, but now feel that the added breast size makes them look “thick” or “matronly”.  Some women are now thinner or their breasts are more “deflated” than they were when they got their implants and feel that the implants no longer accentuate their figure like they used to.

Wrong operation/wrong size?

Unfortunately some women relate a history that they never liked their implants in the first place, or they always felt like they were too big.  Oftentimes they relate a history that they “went in for a lift” and came out with bigger saggy breasts rather than the perky, youthful breasts they were envisioning.  This may have happened for any number of reasons: poor communication with the surgeon or wrong operation in the first place. Sometimes the easiest and most cost effective solution for droopy breasts is to put in an implant to “fill up” the loose skin.  If the breast is droopy in the first place, a breast implant will indeed fill up the lax skin, but it will do very little to lift or re-shape a saggy breast that needed a lift in the first place.

Fortunately very few women request implant removal simply because they regret the operation altogether, but it does happen and thankfully it can be “undone” with very little negative consequence in many cases.

What can be done?

Should I remove my implants or downsize?

Will I need a lift??

The decision whether or not to remove the implants altogether or to replace them with smaller implants depends largely on how much breast tissue a woman presently has and what size breasts she would like to have in the long run. When a woman has gained some weight since her original breast augmentation it is not uncommon for her breasts to be larger as well, so an implant may not be necessary at all.  In some cases the breasts will look much more natural without the implants. My recommendation on whether or not a woman needs a breast lift (mastopexy) depends on overall appearance of the breast and where her breast tissue now lies relative to the implants. A good rule of thumb is…if the breast was droopy BEFORE the implant or is droopy WITH the current implant, then it will probably be droopy with a smaller implant or no implant.   In most cases a good breast exam and a candid conversation with your surgeon will allow you and your surgeon to decide what’s best for you.

If a women has saline implants in place, the implants can actually be deflated in the office, under local anesthesia, which allows both surgeon and patient to accurately see what the breast will look like without an implant.  This also allows a woman to “live with” her smaller breasts for a while. This way she can dress around the new size before deciding whether she wants them removed or downsized.  If she decides she wants them removed and does not wish to have a lift at the same time, this can usually be done in the office as well.  If she decides she would like to have a smaller implant and/or a lift at the same time it is advisable to do it within a couple of weeks to avoid collapse of the “pocket” that houses the implant.

If a woman has silicone implants this option is not practical, but your surgeon should be able to give you at least a rough estimate of breast size.  If you think you are having trouble visualizing what your breast would look like without an implant ask your surgeon to show you some pictures of what his/her best guess is.  This will help you decide if that look is acceptable to you or not.

The bottom line is that our bodies change over time. What once was a nice addition and made us feel more proportional may no longer be working for us in later life.  There are a number of options available.

  1. Removal of implants altogether, no lift
  2. Removal of implants with a simultaneous lift
  3. Removal of implants with option of a lift later
  4. Downsizing implants, no lift
  5. Downsizing implants with simultaneous lift
  6. Downsizing implants with option of a lift (or removal) later
  7. Deflation of saline implants ahead of time, with all of above options

 

So, go ahead and make that appointment to discuss implant removal.  It is always good to know your options!