Summary: Is breast augmentation reversible? To a degree, yes. But there’s a good deal of variability within that–and it will be up to you and your plastic surgeon to determine just how reversible your breast augmentation results might be. In most cases, saline and silicone implants can be removed and the breasts can be returned to their original size, with some variability.
Is Breast Augmentation Reversible?
The first thing many patients want to know about any plastic surgery procedure is whether it’s reversible or not. That’s not to say that patients are anticipating being unhappy–it’s just that they like to have their options open, and in that regard it’s difficult to blame them. It’s never a bad idea to keep your options open! At the same time, breast augmentation is the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the United States: so is breast augmentation reversible?
That question will probably come up at countless consultations over the course the next year. And the answer is not exactly straightforward.
Breast augmentation is reversible in some ways but not in others. The reversibility of the procedure will depend, in part, on the type of breast augmentation you’re having performed (and the type of implant used). So let’s take a quick look at some of the possible answers to this question, though you should always consult with your plastic surgeon about your treatment (this article is for entertainment purposes only).
How Breast Augmentation Can Be Reversed
The degree to which breast augmentation is reversible depends on a significant number of variables, but maybe it’s best to sidestep that for a moment. Because, almost regardless, breast augmentation reversibility can be broken down like this:
- Scars, incisions, and changes to the muscle structure: Generally speaking, any physiological changes made the body are effectively permanent. These cannot changes cannot be reversed, though they will typically revert back to a more “natural” state as the years go by.
- Implants: Breast augmentation is typically accomplished with the use of breast implants. In almost all cases, these implants can be removed. The only type of breast implants that cannot be removed are those using autologous fat (for example, if you underwent a fat graft breast augmentation). However, surgery is required to remove implants.
When patients elect to have implants removed–usually through a breast implant revision or breast explant procedure–the breasts will typically then revert back to their original size and shape. That said, it may take some time for this reversion to happen.
Are There Any Breast Augmentations That Can’t Be Reversed?
Patients who undergo fat graft breast augmentations (a procedure similar to the Brazilian Butt Lift) will be unable to simply remove their implants, as one might with a saline or silicone implant. Once that fat is in place, the only way to remove it is with some kind of liposuction or body contouring procedure. If you think you may want to reverse your results sometime down the road, a saline or silicone implant might be your best option.
Why Do Patients Want to Reverse Breast Augmentation Results?
So why might a patient want to reverse a breast augmentation in the first place? Ultimately, there are just about as many reasons as there are patients. Or, said another way, patient motivations are typically informed by that patient’s life experiences and, as such, are unique. However, we can make some broad generalizations about why a patient might want to remove or replace implants at some point:
- Shelf Life: Breast implants, whether saline or silicone, have a recommended shelf life (usually either by the manufacturer or the FDA). While many implants exceed their shelf-life, some patients will elect to have implants removed or replaced before that shelf-life date is reached.
- Changing Priorities: In other cases, patients simply have a change of heart–though, not one that happens right away. Over the years, the patients’ self-image can change; and when that happens, some patients prefer the look of a smaller implant or their original, natural size.
There are some instances in which implants must be removed for health reasons, but those decisions should always be made in conjunction with your plastic surgeon.
Is it Easy to Reverse Breast Augmentation?
A breast explant or breast implant revision typically requires surgery, so how “easy” the process is will vary from patient to patient. However, in most cases, the procedure is roughly as taxing as the original breast augmentation procedure, so patients usually at least have a good idea of what to expect.
So, is breast augmentation reversible? Yes, to a degree. And if you’re interested in reversing your breast augmentation (or the ability to reverse your breast augmentation one day makes you more interested in this procedure), talk to your plastic surgeon about what your options might be.
About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for over four years. He’s constantly in communication with with surgeons about various procedures. For this piece, was worked with the offices of Dr. Charles Polsen, a Houston area plastic surgeon.