While most patients who have breast implants will change their implants out to a new pair at some point (average 15-20yrs), there are those who wish to remove their implants all together for various reasons. Sometimes it is simply not feeling like they need the added size or shape anymore. Others may have health concerns related to their implants that lead them to remove them. This can be done in a couple of different ways, and may require additional surgeries at the same time to lift and reshape the breast skin and tissue. The simplest implant removal is to remove the implant itself without any scar capsule removal. If the scar capsule needs to be removed as well - for example a textured implant with BIA-ALCL concerns (textured implant removal), this can be done in the En-Bloc fashion ( the implant and scar capsule as one unit). It is always preferable to remove the implant and scar capsule En-Bloc, but sometimes this is not possible and needs to done as a complete capsulectomy. This is where the implant is removed from the pocket and then the scar tissue right afterwards. In these cases, the scar capsule and fluid may be sent to the laboratory for examination and to ensure that there is no abnormalities seen within the tissue.
The surgery is commonly performed on an outpatient basis in our office surgical suite or in a day surgery center connected to a hospital. The surgery can be performed under sedation and local anesthesia or under general anesthesia. There are several possible locations for the incision that will be used for removing the breast implant and capsule, but the most frequent technique utilizes an incision made in the lower portion of the breast at the inframammary fold. Even is there is a scar somewhere else on the breast from the implant placement, approaching from the breast fold is the easiest from a technical standpoint.
Recovery from breast implant removal can range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on what needs to be done and whether a breast lift is needed at the same time. Patients may or may not need a drain placed, and this can remain in place for a week or two.