There are various reasons why someone would want to remove their breast implants — some patients desire a more natural look, the implants may need to be replaced, or a patient could have symptoms of Breast Implant Illness (BII). Regardless of the reasoning, breast explant surgery is an option that removes either the implant alone or the implant along with the scar tissue surrounding the area.

On average, breast implants need to be exchanged or removed every 10-15 years, and some patients who still enjoy the results of their surgery decide to get a new pair. However, in recent years, the demand for explant surgery has skyrocketed as plastic surgery has begun to trend in the opposite direction as in the past, with more patients wanting a smaller, natural look. But, more importantly, there has been a rise in health concerns connected to breast implants. Breast Implant Illness refers to the many symptoms associated with breast implants, including but not limited to joint pain, breathing problems, rashes, brain fog, anxiety, depression, and dry eyes. Some patients also experience capsular contracture, a complication that arises when the scar tissue surrounding the implant becomes too dense, leading to pain or disfigurement.

There are a few options for those who do choose to remove their implants and undergo explant surgery. The two main procedures are total capsulectomies and en bloc capsulectomies.

Total Capsulectomy: This option involves removing all of the surrounding scar tissue as well as the implant. In some cases, the surgeon will have to peel pieces of this capsule of scar tissue from the chest wall.

En Bloc Capsulectomy: If the implant enclosed in the capsule is removed as a whole, it is referred to as en bloc capsulectomy. The surgeon will make an incision under the breast before removing the capsule and implant all in one piece.

Once a method is chosen, patients should anticipate either general anesthesia or an intravenous sedative. During the consultation, the surgeon will determine incision points either on the lower part of the breast or around the areola. Recovery takes about four weeks, so patients should be prepared to make adjustments to their daily lives as they heal and follow their after-care treatment plan. Staying stocked with Ibuprofen and filling any prescriptions is the best way to help with pain management as well as staying hydrated and eating a nutritious diet. Patients should avoid strenuous activity during the recovery process. Risks of breast explant surgery include hematoma, collapsed lungs, infection, and scarring.

After the implants are removed, patients experience a change in the volume and shape of the breast, and some opt to include a fat transfer or lift with their surgery. Breast explant surgery with a lift brings the breast back to the desired placement and breast, while fat transfers involve fat grafting from other parts of the body to create a size. Fat grafts can usually increase the breasts by one cup size. Patients should expect a more natural look to the breasts and decreased health complications following their explant procedure. After surgery, there will be an immediate difference, with more gradual results as the swelling goes down and the body heals.

Breast explant surgery is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who has experienced Breast Implant Illness symptoms, capsule contracture, or simply wants a more natural look. Many patients report an improved quality of life after the procedure. Working with a skilled surgeon and advocating for your needs can be a life-changing experience for anyone who wants to remove their implants.

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