This Article Has Been Medically Approved By

Dr. George H. Sanders

Every year hundreds of thousands of women safely undergo breast augmentation and are delighted with their results. Despite the excellent safety record and success of breast augmentation, some women do choose to exchange or remove their implants down the road for certain reasons. It’s important that anyone thinking of undergoing breast augmentation consider the long-term care of implants and imagine having to remove or replace them in the future.

Dr. George Sanders, a plastic surgeon serving Los Angeles, is your best resource for this kind of information. He believes breast augmentation candidates should have all the information they need to make informed decisions, and he is always totally honest with his patients.

Reasons to Exchange or Remove Breast Implants

Reasons for exchanging or removing breast implants vary. The most common reasons include the following:

  • A patient no longer likes the size of her implants. The vast majority of women are very satisfied with their chosen implant size, but some women wish they had chosen larger or smaller implants originally.
  • A patient no longer wants implants. Sometimes a woman decides she wants her implants removed altogether. Perhaps a lifestyle change or change in personal preference is guiding her decision. Or, maybe her breasts have gotten too heavy with age or weight gain.
  • An implant ruptures, leaks or develops another problem. The rate of implant failure is small but increases over time. Implant manufacturers estimate that the leakage rate is about 10 percent for both silicone and saline implants after 10 years. Detection of a silicone implant leak usually requires an MRI since the silicone tends to remain in the scar tissue pocket, causing no visible change in the breast. A leaking saline implant, on the other hand, results in deflation of the breast.

 Another reason for replacement or removal is scar tissue contracture about the implant, resulting in a hard breast that can also be painful.

Exchanging Implants

Some women choose to replace their implants with a new pair. Replacing silicone or saline implants is usually a straightforward operation. If the new implant is larger than the original implant, Dr. Sanders may need to increase the size of the implant pocket where the implant is placed. If the new implant is smaller than the original, the pocket may need to be reduced in size.

If there has been a leak of a silicone implant, the silicone is removed to the greatest degree possible. The current generation of silicone implants is filled with a very cohesive gel that rarely leaks outside of the scar tissue capsule, making its removal relatively easy. If the implant is an older implant, the silicone may have leaked into the surrounding tissue, requiring removal of the silicone and any scar tissue that may have formed as a result.

Removing Implants

If a patient desires implant removal, it is also necessary to remove some of the scar tissue around the implant to prevent fluid formation in the remaining scar tissue pocket. Patients may also find that they want to replace the implant with a fat graft to give more fullness than they would have if the implant was removed and nothing added. If the breasts droop or sag after implant removal, the patient may also want to consider breast lift surgery.

Talk to Dr. Sanders about Your Breast Implant Options

If you would like more information about choosing breast implants or replacing them later in life, please call (818) 981-3333 or email Dr. Sanders today to request a consultation.