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Summary: What should you know before you remove breast implants? Many patients have questions about what breast implant removal–known as a breast explant procedure–will mean for their results. In general, a breast explant will return your breasts to their previous size. Patients will typically undergo this procedure for a wide variety of reasons.

What to Know Before You Remove Breast Implants

Both breast augmentation and breast explant procedures are relatively popular. Breast augmentation itself was the single most popular plastic surgery procedure of 2018. But not every patient wants to keep those implants in place indefinitely. Indeed, even the FDA recommends breast implants be removed or replaced after a set number of years (the shelf life of each implant varies based on manufacturer and construction specifications).

But you might have questions about what to know before you remove breast implants. First and foremost, you should always check with a highly qualified plastic surgeon in your area when you’re considering any procedure. Plastic surgery will often, after all, have to take into account your unique physiology.

The removal of breast implants is usually referred to as a breast explant procedure. If you want to remove your implants and exchange them with a different set, it’s referred to as breast implant revision surgery. There might be slight variations on these names depending on where you are, but the point is pretty universal: if you don’t like the breast implants you have, it’s possible to request a change.

Common Questions About Breast Explant

Patients typically have a few common questions about breast explant procedures. Removing a breast implant isn’t a new thing, but the breast explant procedure has become more popular in recent years, with many patients electing to go this route. Some common questions include:

  • Will my breasts return to a normal size? In most cases, the breasts will return to their original size once the implants are removed. There are, of course, a significant number of factors that may influence how quickly or slowly this happens (or whether additional procedure steps will be needed to ensure that result). But for most patients, removing the implant will allow the breasts to return to their original size.
  • Will I need other surgery? Some patients may be well suited for a breast lift or breast reduction procedure in addition to a breast explant. Though, that really does depend on the patient in question–both in terms of the patient’s physiology and the patient’s overall final desires.
  • What kind of incision is used? The types of incisions used during a breast explant procedure vary from patient to patient. In most cases, surgeons will attempt to use the original incision sites in order to keep marks or scars to a minimum. You will be able to discuss possible incision sites and techniques during your consultation with your surgeon, but the size and material of your implant may limit some options.
  • Why do people want to remove their breast implants? Patients can request a breast explant procedure for a wide variety of reasons. In some cases, the implants themselves are not in good condition and need to be removed. In other cases, patients have simply grown tired of the results and want their bodies to look a little more natural. The motivations of patients are usually pretty personal.

If You Remove Your Implant, Can You Get Another One?

Many patients will elect to remove a breast implant only to replace them with another implant size. This is commonly referred to as a breast implant revision procedure, and these procedures can be performed for a wide variety of reasons. Some patients are unhappy with their initial results–either they wanted a size larger or a size smaller.

In other cases, as patients age, they feel that their breast size no longer reflects who they are as a person. And so those patients may indeed opt for a smaller breast implant size during their revision procedure.

There’s almost no wrong reason to seek out a breast implant revision procedure. Much will depend on your particular desires and the integrity of your current breast implants. Generally, breast implants are rated as having a 15 year “shelf-life” by the FDA (although, again, this number varies depending on a variety of factors). So it’s not a bad idea to have a rough idea of what you’d like to do at that point.

Keep What You Want in Mind

At the end of the day, a breast explant procedure or a breast augmentation procedure is fundamentally the same: they’re designed to help the patient feel great about how they look. If a breast explant procedure might do that for you, a plastic surgeon in your area can help you determine the best way forward.


About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for over four years. This article was written in conjunction with the team at Clear Lake Plastic Surgery, the practice of board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Polsen.

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