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Breast

Breast Implant Removal Surgery: What to Expect

Breast implant removal surgery is a procedure opted for various reasons, such as dissatisfaction with appearance or complications like implant leakage. The surgery's aftermath often involves temporary flatness as the natural breast tissue gradually regains volume, a process influenced by factors like the original tissue state and skin elasticity. Post-surgery options to enhance breast shape include lifts or new implants. Recovery involves specific care to manage swelling and pain, with the final breast appearance evolving over months, influenced by individual health and previous implant size.
Heather
By Heather Campbell
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Medically reviewed by
Dr. Mark Aranson
A woman with a hand over her breast
A woman with a hand over her breast

There are varied reasons for removing breast implants including dislike of the appearance, hardening of a capsule around the implant causing deformity and pain, and leakage of the contents of the implant. Anticipating a flat chest after breast implant removal is a valid concern for many. Having a good understanding of the process and what to expect is a great first step toward alleviating anxiety. This article navigates the natural resurgence of breast tissue and the diverse strategies to recover or enhance breast shape.

Key Takeaways

  • Breast flatness after implant removal is common and usually temporary, with factors like natural breast tissue, skin elasticity, implant size, and personal health influencing the recovery and final appearance.

  • Several surgical options are available for improving breast contour post-implant removal, including breast lift, fat transfer, or new implants, to address issues of sagging and restore desired aesthetics.

  • Post-surgery recovery entails following specific guidelines to manage swelling, pain, and shaping of the breasts; emotional and psychological support is also crucial for adapting to body image changes.

Understanding Breast Flatness After Implant Removal

Post breast implant removal
Post breast implant removal

Explant surgery, also known as breast implant removal surgery, is a procedure in which the implants are removed from the breasts. This surgery, sometimes referred to as a breast explant procedure, is often sought by individuals seeking to reverse a prior breast augmentation. What does being flat after breast implant removal or explant procedure involve? Following surgery, breasts often appear flat and deflated, which can lead to a temporary ‘pancake’ appearance. This is due to the removal of the implants, which have provided volume and shape to the breasts, and the residual swelling from the surgery.

However, be aware that this initial flatness is typical and does not signify the final results. As the breasts heal, they will gradually regain some of their natural volume over time. This process can take several months. This process, often referred to as ‘fluffing,’ takes about 6 to 9 months. The degree of fluffing and the resulting breast appearance can vary greatly among individuals, depending on several factors discussed in the following sections.

Factors Affecting Breast Appearance

The appearance of breasts after implant removal surgery is influenced by several factors. These include the state of the natural breast tissue, skin elasticity, and changes in weight, pregnancy, and menopause. All these factors can significantly impact the way the breasts look and feel after the surgery.

For instance, if a woman has maintained a good amount of natural breast tissue, this can contribute to the size and fullness of the breasts after implant removal. On the other hand, prolonged implantation can lead to a reduction in breast tissue thickness, potentially impacting the appearance of the breasts post-surgery.

Likewise, changes in weight, pregnancy, and menopause can affect skin elasticity and breast tissue, influencing the appearance of the breasts post-implant removal, especially if silicone material in the implant leaks or ruptures, leading to the formation of scar tissue.

Impact of Implant Size

The size of the removed implant also plays a significant role in determining the degree of breast flatness post-surgery. It’s commonly observed that different implant sizes can result in varying effects on the resulting breast contour.

For example, women with smaller implants are often observed to have less sagging and drooping after removal compared to those with larger implants. Larger implants can cause more skin stretching and may lead to more noticeable sagging.

After the removal of breast implants, there may be a degree of loose skin and loss of fullness in the upper breast, and these effects can vary in intensity based on the size of the implants that were removed.

Managing Expectations: What Your Breasts May Look Like

A woman crossing her arms in front of her chest
A woman crossing her arms in front of her chest

While concerns about your post-implant removal appearance are natural, tempering your expectations is crucial. The reality is that every woman’s body responds differently to surgery, and individual outcomes may vary.

Your age, skin elasticity, and even your original breast size before implants can all impact your post-removal outcomes. Initially, there may be a deflated appearance, but over time, volume may improve. However, it’s important to note that prior stretching from implants and the natural aging process can lead to potential sagging.

Therefore, a comprehensive discussion with your surgeon, detailing your goals and expectations before surgery, is of utmost importance.

Surgical Options to Enhance Breast Shape

While breast implant removal can result in breast flatness, there are surgical options available to improve the breast shape after surgery. These include procedures such as a breast lift, fat transfer, and the consideration of new implants.

Breast Lift

A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgical intervention designed to elevate and reshape the breasts. It aims to restore their natural form and enhance their aesthetic appearance following implant removal, which may include addressing any breast capsule or hardened tissue surrounding the implant.

This procedure can improve the breast profile, raise the position of the breasts, areolae, and nipples, remove surplus skin and tissue, and produce a more youthful look without the requirement for implants. Moreover, a breast lift entails the removal of surplus skin, leading to the tightening of the skin and a more firm appearance.

Fat Transfer

Fat transfer is another surgical option that can be incorporated into the breast implant removal process to enhance breast volume and shape. This procedure involves extracting fat from one area of the body, such as the abdomen or thighs, and injecting it into the breasts.

This method provides a combination of benefits:

  • Fuller-looking breasts without the use of implants

  • Contouring of other body areas through liposuction

  • More natural appearance and texture to the breasts compared to saline or silicone implants.

New Implants

If maintaining a certain breast size or shape is a priority for you, considering new implants might be an option. This procedure involves:

  • The removal of the old implants and hardened capsule if present

  • The placement of new ones using the same incision points from the initial augmentation

  • Typically done under general anesthesia

Patients can choose from a variety of replacements, including:

  • Saline implants

  • Structured saline implants

  • Silicone implants

  • Gummy bear breast implants

It’s worth mentioning that modern breast implants typically last between 15 to 20 years.

Non-Surgical Approaches to Improve Breast Appearance

Aside from surgical methods to improve breast appearance after implant removal, there are also non-surgical approaches that can be beneficial. These encompass exercises and massages that can help improve the shape and firmness of your breasts.

Light walks are advised in the initial two weeks post-surgery, and jogging should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks. Engaging in breast massage following explant surgery can potentially expedite the recovery process and help improve the shape of your breasts.

Recovery Process: Timeline and Tips

A woman who has undergone explant surgery
A woman who has undergone explant surgery

After breast implant removal surgery, patients typically undergo a breast implant removal recovery period at home. Sutures and drains are usually removed within two or three days post-surgery. It is recommended to rest for one to two weeks, avoiding strenuous activities.

After surgery, it is recommended to:

  • Use a specialized support bra or compression garment to reduce swelling and maintain breast shape

  • Manage bruising and mild soreness during recovery

  • Maintain a back-sleeping position for 6 to 8 weeks to facilitate proper healing.

Pre-Surgery Preparation

Before undergoing breast implant removal surgery, there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself physically and mentally to ensure the best possible outcome.

Firstly, it is essential to maintain good overall health. This includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. If you smoke, it is highly recommended that you quit at least a few weeks before the surgery, as smoking can interfere with your body's ability to heal.

Secondly, you should schedule a consultation with your surgeon to discuss your expectations and any concerns you might have. This is a good opportunity to learn about the procedure, the recovery process, and the potential risks and complications. Your surgeon can also provide advice on what you can do to prepare for the surgery.

Thirdly, it is advisable to arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery and stay with you for at least the first night. You may also need help with daily tasks for a few days after the surgery, so it's a good idea to have someone available to assist you.

Lastly, prepare your home for your recovery. This might include stocking up on groceries, preparing meals in advance, and setting up a comfortable space where you can rest and recover.

Remember, preparation is key to a smooth surgery and recovery process. Take the time to prepare yourself physically and mentally, and don't hesitate to seek advice from your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Emotional and Psychological Considerations

Feeling self-conscious is normal
Feeling self-conscious is normal

The emotional and psychological implications of breast implant removal are equally important to consider. The removal of breast implants can have a significant impact on a woman’s body image and self-esteem, leading to feelings of insecurity or dissatisfaction.

Having a strong support system in place following the procedure can greatly help in managing these emotions. In the post-operative phase, receiving support from friends, family, or professionals such as a therapist is essential in managing emotions and adapting to the changes following breast implant removal.

Additionally, there are resources available that can provide invaluable support during this time. One such resource is Ready Set Recover, a physician vetted, online wellness platform that offers a framework to help individuals navigate their surgery preparation and recovery journey. Ready Set Recover can be a helpful addition to your post-surgery support system.

Finding the Right Surgeon for Your Implant Removal

Selecting the right surgeon to remove breast implants is a vital step towards the best possible outcome from breast surgery. A highly qualified plastic surgeon can elucidate the breast implant removal procedure, help manage your expectations, and steer you through the entire process.

Choosing a surgeon is not a decision to be taken lightly. You should ensure that the surgeon is board-certified and has extensive experience in performing breast implant removal surgeries. It's also important to feel comfortable with your surgeon, as a good rapport will help you communicate your concerns and expectations effectively.

You might want to ask potential plastic surgeons about their qualifications, the number of similar procedures they have performed, and their success rates. It's also a good idea to ask for before-and-after photos of previous patients. This can give you a realistic idea of what to expect from the surgery.

Remember, your health and satisfaction are paramount, and the right surgeon will respect your decisions and prioritize your well-being.

Experiences

Regaining Confidence
Regaining Confidence

Experiences with breast implant removal can vary greatly among individuals. Some women opt for breast implants removed for aesthetic reasons, while others decide to remove their implants due to health issues such as breast implant illness. Aesthetic reasons often involve a desire for a more natural look or a change in personal style. As our bodies age, our perception of beauty can evolve, leading some women to reconsider their decision to have implants. On the other hand, health-related reasons can include conditions such as capsular contracture, implant rupture, or systemic symptoms attributed to breast implants, commonly referred to as breast implant illness. These conditions can cause discomfort, pain, and other health concerns, prompting the decision for explant surgery. It's important to remember that each person's journey is unique, and the reasons for choosing implant removal are as varied as the individuals themselves.

Summary

Breast implant removal is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and planning. It’s crucial to manage your expectations and understand the factors that can influence your post-surgery appearance. Your surgeon can guide you through the various options available to improve your breast shape and appearance post-surgery. Non-surgical methods such as exercise and massage can also play a role in enhancing your breast appearance. It’s important to remember that every woman’s experience with implant removal is unique and influenced by a range of factors. So, embark on this journey with an open mind, a clear understanding of the procedure, and, most importantly, a supportive team by your side.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for breasts to fluff after explant?

Breasts can take between 6 to 9 months to fluff after implant removal, with some patients experiencing fluffing as early as three months after surgery.

Why is my chest concave after explant?

After explant, the removal of capsules can lead to a thinner flap of skin over the mastectomy site, making any existing concavity of the chest wall more pronounced.

Why is there a dent in my breast after explant?

The dent in your breast after explant may be due to the amount of scar tissue around the implants. Some patients may require a breast lift during the removal surgery to address this issue.

What is an explant and flat closure?

Explant surgery involves removing an implant, followed by aesthetic flat closure, which tightens and smoothens the remaining tissues to reveal a flattened chest wall.

What happens when you get breast implants taken out?

After getting breast implants taken out, it is common for the breasts to sag or appear misshapen. To address this, many people opt for a breast lift to remove excess skin and reshape the breast tissue, as well as reposition the nipple and areola if necessary.

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