Breast augmentation surgery, which involves the placement of implants to enhance the size or shape of the breasts, has become a popular cosmetic procedure. However, it is important to note that breast implants are not meant to last a lifetime. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that individuals with breast implants consider having them removed or replaced every 10 to 15 years. While this guideline is in place to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, it is important to note that removal may not be necessary if there haven’t been any complications. In this blog post, we will explore the topic of whether old breast implants should be removed, discussing the reasons for removal, potential risks and complications, alternatives to removal, the importance of consultation with a plastic surgeon, and post-operative care and recovery. Let’s delve deeper into this subject to help you make an informed decision.
Reasons for Removing Old Breast Implants
A. Risk of Complications and Potential Health Concerns
One of the primary reasons for considering the removal of old breast implants is the risk of complications and potential health concerns. Over time, breast implants may develop issues that can affect your overall well-being. Some of these complications include:
1. Rupture or leakage of implants: Breast implants are not meant to last forever, and they can develop issues such as rupture or leakage. Saline implants usually deflate in the event of rupture, making it visually evident. However, silicone implants may experience a silent rupture, which may require an MRI to detect. Regardless of the type of implant, a ruptured or leaking implant should be addressed promptly as it can cause pain, changes in breast appearance, and potential health risks.
2. Capsular contracture: The body forms a natural scar tissue capsule around breast implants. In some cases, this capsule can become thick, tight, and painful, leading to a condition called capsular contracture. This can cause discomfort, distortion of the breast shape, and changes in breast appearance. Removing the implants can help alleviate these symptoms.
3. Implant-related illness: Some individuals with breast implants may experience various symptoms that they attribute to their implants. This condition, known as breast implant illness (BII), is characterized by a range of symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, rashes, and cognitive issues. While the link between these symptoms and breast implants is still being studied, some patients report improvement in their symptoms after removal.
B. Changes in Personal Preferences and Aesthetic Goals
Another reason why individuals may consider removing their old breast implants is due to changes in personal preferences and aesthetic goals. Over time, you may find that your desires and preferences regarding breast size, shape, and appearance have evolved. Some common concerns include:
1. Desire for a different size or shape: As we go through different stages in life, our bodies change. What may have been a preferred breast size or shape in the past may not align with your current preferences. In such cases, removing and potentially replacing the implants can help you achieve the desired look.
2. Wanting a more natural look and feel: Many individuals opt for breast implant removal because they desire a more natural appearance and want to regain the look and feel of their natural breasts. This can also be a factor in the decision-making process.
C. Emotional and Psychological Factors
The decision to remove old breast implants is not solely based on physical considerations but can also be influenced by emotional and psychological factors. Some of these factors include:
1. Impact on self-image and self-esteem: If you are experiencing negative emotions or a decline in self-esteem due to your breast implants, it may be worth considering their removal. Feeling comfortable and confident in your own body is essential, and if your breast implants are causing emotional distress, removal can help improve your well-being.
2. Psychological discomfort or anxiety associated with the implants: Some individuals may experience psychological discomfort or anxiety related to their breast implants. This may be due to concerns about their long-term health effects or fear of potential complications. Removing the implants can alleviate these worries and provide peace of mind.
Potential Risks and Complications of Breast Implant Removal Surgery
While breast implant removal surgery is generally considered safe, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and complications associated with the procedure. Some of these risks include:
A. Surgical risks and complications:
1. Infection: As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection. Steps are taken during the surgery to minimize this risk, but it is important to follow post-operative care instructions to reduce the likelihood of infection.
2. Bleeding: Excessive bleeding during or after surgery is a potential complication. Your plastic surgeon will take steps to minimize this risk, but it is essential to be aware of the possibility.
3. Scarring: Like any surgery, breast implant removal can result in scarring. The extent and visibility of the scars will vary depending on the surgical technique used and individual healing factors. It is important to discuss this potential outcome with your surgeon.
B. Changes in Breast Appearance and Sensation:
1. Loss of breast volume or shape: After removing breast implants, there may be a loss of breast volume or shape. This can occur due to changes in the breast tissue and skin that have adapted to the presence of the implants. Depending on individual factors, additional procedures such as breast lift or fat grafting may be recommended to restore a desired shape and volume.
2. Nipple and areolar changes: Breast implant removal can lead to changes in the position, shape, and size of the nipples and areolas. Some individuals may experience stretching or upward displacement of the nipple-areolar complex. Your plastic surgeon can discuss these potential changes and address any concerns.
C. Cost Considerations and Insurance Coverage:
It is important to consider the financial aspect of breast implant removal surgery. The cost of the procedure can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the surgery, the need for additional procedures, and geographic location. It is also worth noting that insurance coverage for breast implant removal may vary, and it is advisable to check with your insurance provider beforehand to understand the extent of coverage.
Alternatives to Removal of Old Breast Implants
While removing old breast implants is one option, there are alternatives to consider depending on your individual circumstances and preferences. These alternatives include:
A. Breast implant replacement with new implants: If you are satisfied with having breast implants but feel that your current ones need to be replaced, you may consider undergoing a breast implant exchange. This involves removing the old implants and replacing them with new ones, addressing any concerns or issues you may have with the current implants.
B. Fat grafting or autologous tissue transfer: Another alternative to breast implant removal is fat grafting or autologous tissue transfer. This procedure involves using your body’s own fat from another area (typically the abdomen or thighs) and transferring it to the breast region. This method can provide natural volume and shape without the use of implants.
C. Natural methods to address implant-related concerns: In some cases, individuals may choose to explore natural methods to address implant-related concerns without removing the implants. These methods may include exercises and strengthening of the pectoral muscles, skincare techniques, and massage techniques to improve breast appearance and comfort.
Consultation with a Plastic Surgeon
If you are considering the removal of your old breast implants, it is crucial to seek professional medical advice from a qualified plastic surgeon. A consultation will allow you to discuss your goals, concerns, and medical history with the surgeon. During the consultation, the plastic surgeon will conduct a pre-operative evaluation, explain the potential risks and benefits, and provide personalized recommendations based on your unique situation. They will also take into account factors such as your age, overall health, and any previous surgeries to determine the best course of action.
Post-operative Care and Recovery after Breast Implant Removal
After undergoing breast implant removal surgery, it is important to follow the post-operative care instructions provided by your plastic surgeon. This will help ensure a smooth recovery process and minimize the risk of complications. Some key aspects of post-operative care include:
A. Pain management and discomfort during the healing process: Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication or suggest over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage any discomfort or pain during the healing process. It is essential to follow the recommended dosage and guidelines provided by the surgeon.
B. Follow-up appointments and monitoring for complications: It is crucial to attend all follow-up appointments with your plastic surgeon to monitor your progress and address any concerns. Regular monitoring allows your surgeon to keep track of your healing, minimize the risk of complications, and ensure you are satisfied with the results.
C. Emotional support and adjustment to the new breast appearance: Breast implant removal can bring about emotional and psychological adjustments. It is important to seek emotional support from loved ones or consider counseling if needed. Furthermore, give yourself time to adjust to your new breast appearance. It may take some time to feel comfortable and confident in your body post-removal, and that is completely normal.
The decision of whether to remove old breast implants depends on various factors, including individual preferences, potential health concerns, and emotional well-being. While the American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends removal or replacement every 10 to 15 years, it is important to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon to discuss your unique situation. By considering the reasons for removal, potential risks and complications, alternatives to removal, consulting with a plastic surgeon, and understanding post-operative care and recovery, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and overall well-being. Remember, your plastic surgeon is your partner in this decision-making process, and they will guide you every step of the way to help achieve the best possible outcome for you.