10 Good Reasons To Remove Breast Implants

10 Dec 2013 at 9:00am

before after breast implant removal photo

by Brooke R. Seckel, MD

If you're happy, and there is no evidence of rupture or any other medical problem -- I don't recommend removing breast implants unless you no longer wish to have them.

The FDA estimates the "useful life" of these products to be 10 years. However, many patients have had similar devices in place for over 40 years and had no problems. Just because they are 10 years old does not mean you "have to" remove them.

That said, there are situations in which I do recommend removal and, if you desire, exchange to new implants. Some of the reasons for removal are listed, below.

1. Rupture

implant rupture

If your silicone breast implant ruptures, it should be removed according to current guidelines. New implants can be placed back into the breast after removing all possible silicone.

If they are saline, the device will deflate and the saline is then safely reabsorbed by the body. However, deflation of your saline implant creates an asymmetrical look, and you may want a replacement.

2. Capsular contracture

capsular contracture breast implants photo

Capsular contracture presents as firmness or hardness around the implant. It is caused by scar tissue forming around the device. In severe cases, it can cause discomfort.

If you are considering replacing the implants after experiencing capsular contracture, the surgeon will first remove the scar tissue in a procedure called capsulectomy. This is so the new implants will feel softer.  However, there is a 50% chance that capsular contracture will recur after insertion of the new implants.

3. Rippling of saline implant

breast implant rippling photo

Many women are troubled by visible ripples (or ones they can feel) near the axilla or arm pit. This happens most frequently with saline implants -- silicone is less prone to rippling. Rippling is also more common in thin women with less breast tissue. This is not a medical problem, but a cosmetic one.

4. Displacement or "bottoming out"

bottoming out breast implants photo

In some patients, the implant can become displaced to the side or sag down on the chest. Sometimes the implant falls abnormally low, revealing the scar, and creating too much fullness below the nipple.  Again, these are cosmetic problems and most women opt for revision and replacement.

5. Double Bubble

double bubble breast implants photo

In some cases, the device falls below the mammary gland and creates a second "bubble" or fullness below the crease.  This is usually repaired with replacing the implant.

6. Infection

Rarely, the implant prosthesis can become infected. I have seen infection once in 30 years, and it occurred after a nipple piercing. Infection of an implant can be life threatening, and removal is a surgical emergency. Signs of an infection are redness on the skin and fever. If this occurs, see your doctor immediately.

7. "Snoopy" Deformity

In some cases, the implant fails to drop down to a normal position. This can create a bulge above the nipple, which from the side view, has the appearance of the cartoon character Snoopy. Revision is usually done to correct this issue.

8. Breasts have sagged

breasts sagging after breast augmentation photo

Your breasts may have sagged and become smaller after having children, or with age. In most of these cases, a breast lift (or mastopexy) is done, and new implants are placed.

9. Exposure

If there is a break in the skin, and the device is exposed, removal is almost always recommended immediately.

10. You simply do not want to have them any longer.

before after breast implant removal

If there are no medical issues, removal of breast implants is very simple and usually not painful. Try not be too concerned that you will look deformed or abnormal. If there are no problems with the implant such as capsular contracture or rupture, you will just look smaller.

Have more questions about removal of breast implants? RealSelf doctors answer your questions here!

Comments (1)

That makes me feel better, I'm getting mine out ASAP!
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