As you may know, breast implants don’t last forever. In fact, it’s recommended that you remove and/or replace your implants every 10 years. So if the clock is ticking closer to that ten-year mark, if you’re thinking about breast implant removal surgery due to personal preferences that have changed, or you’re experiencing symptoms that may demand their removal—it’s normal to question whether or not explant surgery is right for you. The truth is, if your implants are doing you more harm than good, it might be time to consider removing your breast implants.
What is breast explant surgery?
Breast implant removal, also known as explant surgery, is a surgical procedure that removes (or explants) the implants from the breast pocket. It’s done for a number of reasons, from breast implant illness to end of their natural lifespan (it’s recommended that you replace your breast implants every 10 years to avoid any complications) to capsular contracture or rupture and even simple just change in your preferences.
How long do breast implants last?
As mentioned, it’s recommended that you remove and/or replace your implants every 10 years. However if you’re experiencing any symptoms of Breast Implant Illness, it’s important that you speak to your primary care physician to discuss your options and rule out all possible causes.
Unfortunately, Breast Implant Illness is still somewhat of a mystery, but it’s thought to be a systemic inflammatory reaction or a rare autoimmune reaction to breast implants or the scar tissue surrounding the implants, but while some who experience BII also get diagnosed with a specific autoimmune or connective tissue disorder, many don’t. Some believe it’s due to breast implant contamination (which is why it’s so important to initially choose a board certified plastic surgeon for your breast augmentation surgery). Others believe some women may be genetically predisposed to developing an immune reaction to the materials used in breast implants.
Some symptoms of implant sickness that are commonly reported include:
- Chronic fatigue and headaches
- Persistent joint and muscle pain
- Unexplained respiratory difficulties
- Hair loss and frequent skin rashes
- Chronically dry mouth and eyes
- Poor memory and concentration
- Depression, anxiety, and insomnia
Is breast implant removal surgery safe and how long is the recovery?
While all surgeries come with risks, implant removal surgery is overwhelmingly safe. Even your recovery is likely to be pretty low risk, and similar to that of your breast augmentation surgery: three days of solid downtime and relative downtime for at least two weeks. You’ll likely experience soreness, swelling, bruising and sensitivity for a few weeks, but it should subside enough within the first few days to allow you to return to most of your activities without significant discomfort. Most patients can return to light activities within one week and more strenuous exercise after about six weeks. You may also notice you don’t feel mentally like yourself after your explant surgery—don’t worry, it’s completely normal to feel some anxiety and even depression the first week or two following your surgery.
While removing your breast implants may be the best thing to do for your health, you may also notice you don’t feel mentally like yourself after your explant surgery—don’t worry, it’s completely normal to feel some anxiety and even depression the first week or two following your surgery.
Will insurance cover explant surgery?
This is highly dependent on both your specific policy and the basis for your initial implant surgery. Generally speaking, your insurance company will likely make their coverage decision based on why you got breast implants. For example, if you chose reconstructive implants after a mastectomy, and your doctor believes their removal is medically necessary, then your insurance must cover the explant surgery. However if your implants were for cosmetic reasons, your insurance company may or may not cover medically necessary explant surgery.
To ensure you have the best possible outcome, Dr. Barrett has curated an Explant Detox Kit to set his breast augmentation and breast implant removal patients up for surgical success with the least amount of down time and discomfort possible.
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