Can breast implants be removed?

Erik A. Hoy, MD
Plastic Surgery
Breast implants can be removed if they are no longer wanted, if they become damaged, or in rare cases of problems like infection. During some other surgeries, such as "revisions", an implant is removed, and the breast tightened or lifted, and the implant is replaced. Alternatively, some patients request that an implant is removed and another (an implant which is either larger, smaller, or a different shape or projection) is reinserted. Sometimes implants are removed to help address scarring around the implant, called capsular contracture. How the implant is removed depends upon the filling of the implant (saline versus silicone), the texture of the shell of the implant (smooth versus textured), and how the implant was inserted (under vs above the pectoral muscle, location of incisional scars, etc). Some implants like smooth saline devices can be removed with local anesthesia alone, but textured or silicone implants usually require concious sedation or general anesthesia for removal. It is important to perform monthly self-exams of your breast, to see your plastic surgeon yearly for a clinical breast exam, and to follow the implant manufacturer's recommendations regarding ultrasound or MRI exams to check the implants. Usually the implant removal is the easy part of the explantation procedure, and the more difficult question is whether or not the breast should be lifted, tightened, or reduced once the implant is removed. A board-certified plastic surgeon can assist you in these decisions, to help you get the ideal result for you.
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Breast implants may be removed or explanted. In fact, I perform removal of breast implants, both saline and silicone, for a variety of reasons. Multiple scar contractures may lead to thinning of the tissue requiring implant removal. Some women as they age, decide to downsize or completely remove their implants. Normally a drain is placed in the pocket for 7 days to remove serous fluid after the surgery and to prevent seroma formation. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.