The most common reasons for breast implant removal are to seek revision (either larger or smaller), to deal with the complications of rupture, shifting, asymmetry, capsular contracture or other problems, or because of illness, e.g., the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Permanent removal of breast implants because of complications is rarely the best solution, as breast enlargement with implants actually changes the state of the natural breast tissue. Even when complications require the removal of implants, the result will generally be far better with new implants than without any implants at all.

Replacement of implants can occur simultaneously with removal, but is often done later, when your body has recovered from the removal of the implants. There are many factors influencing this and it’s important to make the decision and map the journey in conjunction with your doctor.

Breast Implant Removal in Detail

Patient Journey

Pre-Operation

  • In-depth consultation with Dr Georgina Konrat regarding your concerns and ideal outcome.
  • Dr Konrat will ask important questions about you and your health (your medical history).
  • Dr Konrat will examine your breasts with their implants, noting their condition, size and shape, the quality of your skin and other physical details to assist in planning to address your issues for the best possible outcome.
  • Dr Konrat will provide you with her informed opinion on the options available to you and will discuss her reasons for her recommendation.
  • You will make a final decision as to if/how to proceed to address the issues you have with your implants. We understand that you may not remember or understand everything you hear in your consultation, so we encourage you to make notes as soon as possible after the consultation, and to call or email Dr Konrat with any questions or concerns you may have about your intended surgery.
  • If you decide to have your implants replaced, Dr Konrat will assist you to choose the new implants in the same manner as for any breast augmentation surgery.

The Operation

  • Breast implant removal is done in an accredited Day Surgery Hospital under either general anesthesia or local anesthesia combined with sedation (twilight anesthetic).
  • The procedure usually takes between 30 minutes and one hour.
  • The doctor carefully removes the implants through either the inframammary fold (the crease under the breast), or the peri-areolar incision (through the nipple). If the implant is filled with saline, the doctor may choose to deflate it first to facilitate removal.
  • If the implants are to be removed because of infection, haematoma, necrosis or capsular contraction, then those issues will be dealt with when the implants have been removed.
  • If new implants are to replace the old implants, then the new implants chosen in consultation with Dr Konrat will be placed in the space (the surgical pockets) that have been prepared following the removal of the old implants.
  • The small opening through which the implants are removed is then closed with sutures and a dressing or surgical tape placed to seal the wound. In some cases you may have drains, which will be removed in the few days after surgery.

Post-Operation

  • For the first few days after breast implant removal, there may be mild discomfort, swelling and bruising.
  • Initial recovery from breast implant removal surgery is usually quick, providing there were no complicating factors such as infection prior to surgery. Many patients will be able to return to everyday activity within a few days, and full activity within two weeks. Full recovery often takes a few months.

Possible Risks & Complications

  • Emotional Effects of Breast Implant Removal: Some women suffer from psychological distress after breast implant removal. The change in the body’s shape affects some women as profoundly as a mastectomy affects others. It is normal to feel some sadness after witnessing such a drastic body transformation. If psychological symptoms do not subside within a reasonable time after breast implant removal, it is wise to seek help from a professional. At Brisbane Cosmetic Clinic, we are able to refer patients to a specialist who is able to provide counselling, life coaching and treatment as required or requested.
  • Removal of Large Breast Implants: If your implants were large, and particularly if they were subglandular (on top of the muscle and under the breast tissues), and you opt not to replace the breast implants you may be left with significant cosmetic deformity of your breasts. Breasts may also be smaller than they were before the implants because of hormone changes or weight loss.
  • Sagging can become more apparent after breast implant removal if you choose not to replace the implants
  • Seratoma: this is a collection of fluid that sometimes occurs following surgery. If there is a danger of this, Dr Konrat will insert a drainage tube for the first couple of days after the surgery.
  • Hamatoma: these are collections of blood or large bruises that can form around the breast implant pocket as it heals. Hamatomas can cause an inflammatory reaction, which can lead to Capsular Contracture.
  • Change in Nipple and Skin Sensation: some change in sensation is not unusual right after surgery. Most patients regain normal sensation within a few months of surgery. Occasionally, partial or permanent loss of nipple and skin sensation or hypersensitivity may occur in one or both breasts. Changes in sensation may affect sexual response or the ability to breast-feed a baby.
  • Chest Wall Deformity: in very rare cases, the chest wall (the underlying rib cage) may appear deformed upon removal of the implants. Chest wall deformity has been reported following the use of tissue expanders and breast implants. The significance of chest wall deformity is not fully understood, but is not believed to produce any known health consequences.

GENERAL RISKS OF SURGERY

Because surgery is such a vital part of modern medicine, there is a tendency to forget that there are risks associated with every type of surgery. While these risks are small, every person undergoing surgery should be aware of the risks.

Wounds

All internal and external wounds need time to heal after surgery. Sutures and other material are used to hold wounds closed while they heal.

Infections

Despite taking precautions, infections can occur during and just after surgery. These may be general, such as pneumonia, or specific to breast surgery. Because of their generally good health, breast implant patients usually have a lower risk of developing general infections such as pneumonia.

Pulmonary Risks

  • Patients have a risk of forming a blood clot in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) that breaks off and gets stuck in the lung circulation (pulmonary embolism). This is minimized by the wearing of surgical ‘stockings’ during the surgery, and by getting the patient out of bed as soon as possible.
  • You will also be encouraged to breathe deeply when you wake up from the anesthetic as this expands your lungs and helps ensure your blood oxygen levels are good.

Risks of Anesthesia

As a rule, these risks are very low in cosmetic surgery patients, because the patients are generally in good health. Dr Konrat will take a full medical history, will order a number of tests prior to surgery and will make lifestyle recommendations to ensure your health is optimal before the surgery. This will minimise any general risks.

Mental Health disorders and Elective Surgery

  • It is important that all patients seeking to undergo elective surgery have realistic expectations that focus on improvement rather than perfection.
  • Complications or less than satisfactory results are sometimes unavoidable, may require additional surgery and can be stressful.
  • Please discuss openly with Dr Konrat in your consultation prior to surgery, any history of emotional depression or mental health disorders. If you are unsure whether a matter is relevant, please mention it anyway. Although many individuals may benefit psychologically from the results of elective cosmetic surgery, the effects on mental health can never be predicted and could possibly have a negative influence on emotional stability.