Over the past few years, breast implant removal, or explant surgery, has skyrocketed in popularity. Recently, Blac Chyna, a celebrity who has been open about their plastic surgery and is known for her hourglass figure, spoke about getting her breast implants removed. On her Instagram she called the procedure “one of the best decisions I could have done in a very, very long time.” In 2020 alone, over 36,000 people had their implants removed, which is an 8% increase from 2019, and three years later that number keeps rising.
Removing breast implants is not only for people who are no longer interested in the look of their enhancements — surgeons actually recommend removing or replacing implants every 10 to 15 years. However, there’s an overwhelming amount of patients who now prefer a more natural look or are dissatisfied with their implants after aging, losing weight, or pregnancy. Breast augmentation surgeries have decreased as explants have become more and more common. On top of more natural aesthetics being the most recent body trend, in 2022 the FDA released a safety warning regarding cancerous cells that have been found in the capsule surrounding breast implants. Celebrities like Yolanda Hadid, the mother of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid, race car driver Danica Patrick, and Victoria Beckham have all had explant surgery after experiencing health complications associated with their implants.
Complications associated with implants include:
Breast implant rupture which can cause pain, swelling, or silicone granulomas
Breast Implant Illness
Removing breast implants is usually a fairly straightforward procedure that extracts the implants from the breast pocket. The surgeon is able to use the same incision locations as the original implant surgery, thus eliminating the need for any additional scarring.
There are a few different methods of explant surgery:
En Bloc Removal: This method removes the entire capsule of scar tissue that forms around the breast after implants are inserted. En bloc removal is the preferred type of explant surgery for ruptured implants, those suffering from Breast Implant Illness, or those with a capsular contracture. However, this is the most invasive method and requires larger incisions (meaning larger scars).
Total Capsulectomy: Similar to an en bloc removal, a total capsulectomy removes both the implant and the capsule, but this method involves making an incision in the capsule before removing the implant, instead of all at once. This is preferred when the breast implant capsule is fused to the muscle or rib cage.
Partial Capsulectomy: Sometimes called a capsulotomy, this method removes a portion of the scar tissue capsule and has the smallest incisions out of all the methods. This is often preferred when the scar tissue around the implant needs to be loosened to relieve tension or improve the look of the breast due to capsular contracture.
Regardless of the method used, the surgery is performed under general anesthesia after the surgeon and patient decide on incision placement and the severity of the existing implant. Using one of the three methods above, the surgeon will remove either the full capsule or a portion of it. If necessary, the nipples and areolas can be reconstructed to complement the new breasts. After the surgery, patients should plan for three days of solid downtime and relative downtime for two weeks after that period. Most people return to normal activities after about six weeks. Patients will likely experience soreness, swelling, and bruising for a few weeks with pain management medication being prescribed by the doctor. The doctor will also go over post-op care and instructions.
Patients should have realistic expectations for after the surgery — some people decide to opt for a breast lift or fat transfer following the explant to achieve a perkier look even without the implant. Choosing a qualified surgeon, and carefully following post-op instructions, is imperative to getting the desired results with minimal scarring. Consulting a skilled surgeon will reduce the chances of breast implant removal complications.
Some complications include:
Severe bleeding or seroma
Infection or fat necrosis
Numbness or changes to nipple sensation
Overall, breast implant removal is a fulfilling solution for anyone who would like to remove their implants for either aesthetic or health needs. By choosing the right, board certified surgeon and the technique that works based on the patient’s specific needs, explant surgery can be as simple, and just as rewarding, as breast implant surgery
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