A growing number of women are choosing to have implant removal surgery. Why? “Things change and people change,” explains Dr. Richard Restifo of Orange, CT. For some women, it can simply be a case of an evolving aesthetic — what looked good at 20 may no longer fit their lifestyle at 40. For other women, age related weight gain may have eradicated the need for any additional volume from a breast implant. And for still another small subset of women, they may have developed a complication from their breast implant that is either aesthetically unattractive or which is causing them pain and discomfort. Following are some of the reasons that you may want to consider implant removal surgery, as well as what to expect.
Why Have Implant Removal Surgery?
According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), breast augmentation surgery is still the most popular plastic surgical procedure in this country. Why with over a quarter of a million women wanting larger breasts each year would anyone consider breast implant removal surgery?
Just like in fashion, things change. While boot cut jeans may have looked good 10 years ago, skinny jeans are what’s en vogue today. Many of the women who come in to discuss implant removal surgery received their initial implants while still in their 20’s. And though the newer implants have a much longer shelf life than 10 years, this does not mean that the aesthetic result that you wanted at 20 still fits your lifestyle at 40 or 50.
Many women find themselves wanting to downsize as they grow older. Depending on their anatomy, this may be as simple as removing the original implant. Or it may mean replacing the original implant with something much smaller. The right option for you is going to depend on your anatomy and goals.
Age Related Weight Gain & Lifestyle
It’s a somewhat sad fact of life that we all tend to gain weight as we age. This is especially true for women going through menopause; your body changes shape. For many of these patients, they find that they actually no longer need the extra volume from the implant. Let’s call it the plus side of weight gain. The nice thing here is, in most cases, the implant is simply removed. The breast winds up looking like it did before you gained weight.
Another set of women find that their implants just don’t suit their lifestyle. Maybe they got large implant the first time and now they have taken up a daily exercise regime or sport. The breast implant just gets in the way. In these cases, the implant can either be removed entirely with implant removal surgery or else downsized. All of these options should be discussed with you in detail during your initial breast surgery consultation.
Implant Removal Surgery & Complications
The last category of implant removal surgery patients are those who develop a complication. These are the “women in whom the implants are problematic in that their body really doesn’t tolerate them and they become firm and uncomfortable,” explains Dr. Restifo. Breast implant complications may include:
- capsular contracture
- breast pain
- calcifications or lumps
- chest wall deformity
Breast implant complications may also entail issues with your implant that are aesthetically displeasing such as:
- implant malposition
- wrinkling or rippling
What Happens with Implant Removal Surgery?
What happens when you remove your breast implants? “Sometimes, not all that much,” says Restifo. For example, a woman who has had a moderately sized implant in place for just a few years may find that removing the implant simply returns her fairly close to where she was before she had her breast augmentation surgery. Obviously, the scar will remain, but since it is typically well hidden, there shouldn’t be any real visible evidence of your original surgery.
For the patient who had a large implant in place for many years or whose skin has simply stretched with age, these women are probably going to need some type of breast lift in addition to implant removal surgery.
To Lift or Not to Lift
There is a lot of fear surrounding the breast lift when it is really a profoundly life altering procedure. Age, genetics, pregnancy, breast feeding and weight gain/loss call all wreak havoc on the skin and tissues of the breast. Add in a large breast implant and you have a recipe for stretched skin and droopy breasts. A breast lift is a procedure in which the surgeon lifts the breasts back to a more perky, youthful position on the chest wall. This can be particularly important for implant removal surgery patients because once the volume is removed, the loose skin becomes even looser. The subsequent scars actually heal very nicely and most patients agree are a worthy trade off for their new perky looking, attractive breasts.
Patient Satisfaction High
Patient satisfaction is really high with breast implant removal surgery. Dr. Restifo’s patients often say that the results are better than they expected. “The common misperception is that you’ll have granny boobs after the implants are removed,” he explains, but this is simply not true in the vast majority of patients. And even if it is true, granny boobs can be fixed. Bottom line? “Implant removal can be a good thing,” shares Restifo.