What are my Options after Breast Implant Removal?

Choices and Considerations after Breast Implant Removal

Breast implant removal is a decision that some women make for a variety of reasons. Whatever your reason for considering implant removal, it’s important to understand what comes next. Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan guides you through the options after breast implant removal, covering both surgical and non-surgical choices, as well as offering advice on how to approach recovery and support.

Overview of Breast Implant Removal

Breast implant removal is a surgical procedure designed to take out breast implants from patients who have previously undergone breast augmentation or reconstruction. Mr Macquillan says “Whether due to medical reasons, lifestyle changes, or personal preferences, understanding the basics of this surgery, the reasons for undergoing it, and what to expect during the recovery period is essential for anyone considering this option”.

Reasons for Implant Removal

Here are some of the most common reasons for opting for breast implant removal:

Medical Concerns

  • Capsular Contracture: This occurs when the scar tissue that naturally forms around the implant becomes thick and hard, causing discomfort and distorting the shape of the breast. It can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, the only resolution is to remove the implant.
  • Implant Rupture: An implant shell can break, releasing its contents into the surrounding tissue. Silicone implants may not show immediate symptoms, making regular monitoring crucial. Saline ruptures are usually noticeable due to a noticeable decrease in breast size. Removal is necessary to prevent complications from the leaked material.
  • Infection and Other Complications: Infections, though rare, can occur after implant surgery and may necessitate removal if they are severe or recurrent. Other complications might include seroma (a pocket of clear fluid), haematoma, or unsatisfactory healing that impacts the surrounding tissue and overall breast health.

Cosmetic Dissatisfaction

  • Changes in Aesthetic Preferences: Over time, your aesthetic preferences may change, and what was once desirable may no longer be appealing. This could be due to shifts in personal style or the evolving trends in body aesthetics.
  • Dissatisfaction with Results: Sometimes, the outcome of breast augmentation might not meet expectations. Issues such as asymmetry, incorrect size, or the general appearance can leave you feeling unhappy with your implants.

Physical Discomfort

  • Pain and Discomfort: For some, implants can cause physical discomfort or even pain. This can be due to the weight of the implants, especially if they are large, leading to back, neck, and shoulder pain. The position of the implant and changes over time due to gravity can also create discomfort.
  • Health Symptoms: Some women report a range of systemic symptoms sometimes referred to as “breast implant illness,” which they attribute to their implants. Symptoms might include fatigue, joint pain, and allergic reactions, prompting some to remove their implants.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Age-Related Changes: As you age, the skin and body’s structure naturally change, which can alter how implants look and feel. Older women may opt for implant removal as they seek comfort over aesthetics.
  • Changes in Health or Physical Activity: Significant weight fluctuations, health changes, or shifts in activity levels can affect how comfortable and practical it is to have implants. For example, those who take up certain sports or physical activities might find large implants cumbersome or uncomfortable.
  • Personal or Cultural Shifts: Changes in personal beliefs or cultural influences might also lead someone to reconsider their implants. This could include a desire for a more natural appearance or health-conscious lifestyle choices.
2019 - Breast Lift - Mastopexy by Anthony MacQuillan 45 Right

Options after Breast Implant Removal

Going Natural

After choosing to remove your breast implants without opting for replacements, it’s important to set realistic expectations for how your breasts will look. The appearance of your breasts post-removal largely depends on the size of the implants, how long you had them, and your skin’s natural elasticity. In many cases, you may find that the breast skin and tissues have stretched, which could result in a saggy appearance initially. Over time, the skin may retract somewhat, but this can vary widely among patients.

The change in your breast appearance can influence your feelings about your body. For some, this transformation aligns with embracing a more natural body form, which can be liberating. For others, there might be challenges in adjusting to the new look, impacting how they feel about themselves. In such cases, it is beneficial to seek support from counselling services that help in adjusting to body changes and managing any negative feelings that might arise.

Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

A breast uplift, or mastopexy, is a surgical procedure aimed at reshaping and lifting sagging breasts, which can be a common consequence after breast implant removal. This procedure is designed to elevate the breasts, reduce excess skin, and reposition the nipples and areolas for a more youthful and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Here is a detailed exploration of the breast lift procedure, its benefits, and the critical considerations involved.

A mastopexy involves several steps, tailored according to your specific breast anatomy and desired outcomes. Anthony will make one of several types of incisions, depending on the extent of the lift required:

  1. Periareolar Incision: Also known as a “Donut” lift, this involves a circular incision around the edge of the areola. It is suitable for those with mild sagging.
  2. Vertical Incision: Often referred to as a “Lollipop” lift, this starts with a periareolar incision and adds a vertical incision down to the breast crease. It is appropriate for moderate sagging and allows for more extensive reshaping.
  3. Inverted T or Anchor Incision: This is the most complex type of lift for those with significant sagging. It includes an incision around the areola, vertically down to the breast fold, and horizontally along the breast crease.

During the procedure, excess skin is removed, breast tissue is reshaped, and the nipple and areola are lifted to a higher, more forward position. If necessary, the size of the areola can be reduced to enhance cosmetic appearance.

Fat Grafting

Fat grafting is an innovative procedure that involves harvesting fat from one part of the body, such as the abdomen or thighs, and injecting it into the breasts. This technique can add volume and provide a softer, more natural contour than implants. It is particularly appealing for those who seek a moderate increase in breast size and prefer natural results over synthetic implants.

However, fat grafting comes with its own set of challenges. The body may reabsorb some of the injected fat, which can lead to uneven breast shapes or the need for multiple procedures to maintain the desired volume. The success of fat grafting also depends heavily on the surgeon’s skill and experience, as well as how well your body accepts the transferred fat. Discussing all these factors with Anthony can help you understand the pros and cons of opting for this method over others.

2013 - Breast Augmentation by Anthony MacQuillan 45 Left

Getting New Implants

For some, replacing old implants with new ones might be the preferred choice. This can be due to dissatisfaction with the previous implants, such as wanting a different size or type, or it could be a part of a reconstructive strategy following issues like capsular contracture or implant rupture. When considering new implants, there are multiple types to choose from, including saline and silicone, each with its own set of advantages and aesthetic outcomes.

Anthony will discuss the different implant options, focusing on factors like feel, appearance, and the risk of complications. The decision to go with new implants also includes considering their lifespan and the possibility of future surgeries for replacement or removal. It’s essential to weigh these factors carefully to make a decision that aligns with your long-term goals.

Comparing Your Options

Here’s a detailed comparison to help you navigate through these choices:

Option 1: Going Natural – Choosing to go natural involves accepting your breasts as they are after the implants are removed. This option requires no additional surgical intervention but may come with aesthetic changes due to the previous presence of implants. Depending on factors like the size of the implants and the duration they were in place, you may notice sagging or a change in breast shape. This option is best for those who prefer minimal medical intervention and are comfortable with significant changes in breast appearance.

Benefits:

  • No further surgery is required, avoiding additional risks and recovery time
  • Embracing a more natural body image without foreign objects

Considerations:

  • Potential dissatisfaction with cosmetic changes
  • May need psychological adjustment to new body image

Option 2: Breast Lift (Mastopexy) – A breast lift can significantly enhance the appearance of the breasts after implant removal. By removing excess skin and tightening the remaining tissue, a breast lift raises the breast’s position on the chest and can reshape the breasts to a more aesthetically pleasing form.

Benefits:

  • Provides a more youthful and lifted appearance
  • Can correct sagging and improve breast symmetry

Considerations:

  • Involves surgery with associated risks such as scarring, infection, and complications
  • Recovery time is required, during which physical activity is limited

Option 3: Fat Grafting – Fat grafting involves taking fat from other parts of your body and injecting it into your breasts to add volume and improve contour. This option can offer a natural feel and appearance, as it uses your own body fat.

Benefits:

  • Results can look and feel natural
  • Dual benefit of removing unwanted fat from other body areas

Considerations:

  • The potential need for multiple procedures if fat reabsorption occurs
  • Less predictable results than implants or a breast lift
OptionDescriptionBenefitsConsiderations
Going NaturalAccepting your breasts as they are after the implants are removed, without additional surgical intervention.The potential need for multiple procedures. Less predictable results than implants or a breast lift.Potential dissatisfaction with cosmetic changes. May need psychological adjustment to new body image.
Breast Lift (Mastopexy)Enhances appearance by removing excess skin and tightening tissue, raising the breast’s position on the chest.Provides a more youthful and lifted appearance. Corrects sagging and improves symmetry.Involves surgery with risks like scarring and infection. Requires recovery time; limits physical activity.
Fat GraftingInvolves taking fat from other parts of your body and injecting it into your breasts to add volume and improve contour.Results can look and feel natural. Removes unwanted fat from other body areas.Potential need for multiple procedures. Less predictable results than implants or a breast lift.

FAQs about Options after Breast Implant Removal

What are the cosmetic options available after breast implant removal?

  • After removing breast implants, you have several options depending on your preferences and the condition of your breasts. These include going natural without further intervention, undergoing a breast lift (mastopexy) to raise and reshape the sagging breasts, or opting for fat grafting to add volume and improve contour using your own body fat.

Can I achieve a natural look after implant removal without further surgery?

  • Yes, you can choose to go natural after implant removal. This involves accepting your breasts as they are post-removal. While this option does not require additional surgery, it may come with aesthetic changes such as sagging or altered breast shape, depending on the previous implant size and duration.

What does a breast lift involve, and how can it help after implant removal?

  • A breast lift, or mastopexy, involves removing excess skin and tightening the remaining breast tissue to lift and reshape the breasts. This procedure is beneficial if your breasts have sagged or lost shape after implant removal. It raises the breasts on the chest wall and can also reposition the nipples for a more youthful and symmetrical appearance.

Is fat grafting a viable option after removing breast implants? What are its pros and cons?

  • Fat grafting is a viable option and involves harvesting fat from another part of your body, such as the abdomen or thighs, and injecting it into the breasts. This can add volume and provide a natural feel. Pros include a natural appearance and the removal of unwanted fat from other areas. However, cons include the potential need for multiple procedures if some of the fat is reabsorbed by the body, and the results are less predictable compared to other procedures like a breast lift.

What non-surgical options do I have after breast implant removal?

  • If you prefer not to undergo further surgery, you can opt for external breast prostheses. These are specially designed to fit inside your bra, helping to balance the appearance of your chest without any invasive procedures. They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials to suit different needs and preferences. This option requires no recovery time and poses no surgical risks.

Further Reading about Breast Implants

Medical References about Implant Removal