Removal and replacement of breast implants: when and why?

06 June 2014

By Plastic Surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

Breast implant Picture by FDA via Wikimedia commonsA question which I get asked frequently by my breast augmentation patients is:  "when will my implants need replacing"? Indeed, implants age, so I generally suggest patients consider swapping the original implants for new ones every 10 to 15 years if the need arises. However, many people who undergo the procedure may never need their implants replaced so it is completely dependent on individual circumstances.

Reasons for removal and/or replacement

There is a common myth regarding breast implants that every person who has breast surgery will need to replace their implants every 10 years or so. As I mentioned before, this is not necessarily the case, but there are reasons why a patient may wish to do so and in these instances the replacement or removal surgery is relatively straight forward.

Lifestyle factors such as change in weight, pregnancy, breastfeeding, ageing and hormones can all change the shape and position of breast implants and may be a reason why some people opt to have implants removed or replaced. Other reasons for removing or replacing breast implants can simply be due to the patient no longer feeling the need for the implants. Indeed, with time we all evolve and so does the way we see our bodies, and sometimes the reasons patients had plastic surgery are no longer relevant so they wish to go back to the way they were before. This is why, when possible, I like non-surgical procedures such as dermal fillers, as the effects are not permanent and simply disappear with time.

Although it is uncommon, breast implants can sometimes rupture or leak. Since breast implants are meant for cosmetic use it is not urgent to remove or replace ruptured or leaky implants (especially saline ones), but surgery is often chosen for cosmetic reasons when the implants look deflated. If you feel discomfort from your breast implants or they feel firmer than usual, it is important to contact your surgeon to have them checked.

Removing breast implants

If you wish to remove the implants completely, then you may need additional reconstructive surgery to avoid loose or sagging skin, which can occasionally be left behind where the implant has stretched the original skin. Should you unfortunately suffer from excess or saggy skin, a breast lift in conjunction with the removal of implants is an option you may wish to choose.

Replacing breast implants

If you need to replace old breast implants or wish to adjust the size and shape of your breasts with new implants, then the surgery is generally less invasive than a first-time breast augmentation. Indeed, a pocket under or over the muscle will have already been created to hold the implants, so only minimal (if any) adjustments to the pocket will be needed when replacing, and patients usually report that they experience less pain after removal or replacement surgery. Scarring should also not be an issue as the plastic surgeon can make an incision in the same place as the previous surgery.

The importance of using a trusted surgeon

The most crucial piece of advice for choosing to replace or remove your breast implants is to thoroughly research your plastic surgeon. You may choose to return to the cosmetic surgeon who inserted the original implants if you were happy with the results from the initial surgery, however, if you are trying to find a new surgeon you should make sure that they are fully qualified and certified for the procedure and that you feel comfortable, safe and well informed after your consultation. If you are looking to have your breast implants removed or replaced, then please feel free to contact Harley Street Aesthetics to arrange a consultation.


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