First person: Insights about breast implant removal

  • GreenTemple
  • 2 years ago

We all have been in different places in our lives and made the decision to get breast augmentation. But what if you now want your implants removed? Here’s a little insight to assist you on your new journey and as a fellow explanter, I am speaking from experience.

My biggest fear before my surgery was how my breasts would look after surgery. I wondered if:

• I would have enough breast tissue left to lift

• my husband would still find me attractive

And yes, we have loved ones that tell us that they love us for us! But sometimes even that does not help to eliminate the fears!

My first step in conquering my concerns was to find a surgeon who is experienced in explantation surgery - without replacement. I did not want to choose someone who was likely going to try to talk me into more implants by telling me how terrible I would to look afterwards.

Also, I decided that seeing the same surgeon was not an option, especially since I basically lost confidence in my first surgeon. My advice - take your time and choose a Plastic Surgeon (PS) that you are comfortable with and one that will help you to decide on the right surgical procedure.

We all have various reasons for the removal:

• Change in life or relationship

• No desire for more elective surgeries

• Implants that have ruptured or capsular contracture or capsular calcifications

• Auto immune diseases.

With all surgeries there are risks! Breast implant removal risks include:

• Breast sagging

• Loose skin

• Infection

• Scarring

• Loss of sensation in the nipples

• Anesthesia complications   

Another consideration - you may need your implant capsule removed, which is called a “capsulectomy” or commonly referred to on the Realself site as “capsule removal.” This is often performed with implant removal or replacement. Whether the removal of the capsule is necessary or not is determined by your Plastic Surgeon.

 

Will I be depressed after my implants are removed?

An additional concern I had was the possibility of implant removal without replacement producing psychological distress. There are reports that state that some (but not all) women have go into distress due to the removal of their formerly large breasts which will be smaller. However, after a few months the skin over the breast tissue often does contract and the breasts fluff up and will appear fuller. Of course this varies from person to person. But I can say that your life will change for the better - your breasts may not look the same as with implants, but they will be your breasts. I cannot stress enough that not everyone will have psychological issues.

There are many “explanters” that are relieved and happier without them. I am! Just the pure joy of being able to hug someone is worth the explantation! After your procedure, I will warn you - you will need time to heal properly. Therefore, plan on relaxing at home the first two days after your surgery. You may take pain medication during this period of time.

After the first few days, most people are up and around, off all prescription pain medication, and usually have resumed basic activities. It is important to avoid all exercise, heavy lifting, and other more strenuous activities for the first three weeks. You will feel great within a couple of days of recovery but don’t over do it – its still major surgery. Compared to getting implants and having them removed – it's different!

I felt fantastic and unfortunately realized the hard way that I still need time to heal! If you go to work, expect to be more tired during the first week and sore by the end of the day. If your work involves a lot of moving of your upper body, take the entire first week off.

Bottom-line: Breast implant removal is an important decision. It brings drastic changes that can be a positive or negative. Keep in mind this is about you, for you, so take your time and take care of YOU. There are many emotions that will go into your decision from start to finish, but this is your journey, noon else! You will see your body change over night! Many women are elated after removal. They feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of their shoulders. One of the pros to removal is that you instantly look 10lbs leaner!! This is for you, about you and no one else. Having your family support you is important but not necessary – the most important person during this process is YOU!

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I have not yet sought pre-certification from insurance to have my implants removed, although I am closer to doing so. I have done a LOT of research --- reading as much as I can from all insurance carrier's policies. I believe, but cannot yet confirm, that the better diagnosis to pursue for explantation is Capsular Contracture -- if it is applicable. Most of what I have read of insurance policies, including Medicare, cover explantation (even if originally done for cosmetic reasons) if there is a clinical diagnosis of Baker IV (sometimes will indicated Baker III) CC. One advantage of this diagnosis is that it is a CLINICAL diagnosis -- not one that seems to require ultrasounds or MRIs, as I don't think that even validates. We still do not have studies that CONFIRM silicon implant sickness. So, you are entirely at the mercy of the insurance companies to go against their policies that all (/most) summarily disallow procedures of cosmetic nature. Meaning, might not consider leaking silicone a medical necessity, as the FDA studies and such are not affirming that either; although the FDA has acknowledged that some implanted women suffer fibromyalgia. The other symptoms that we suffer can be attributed to many different things, even menopause. Also, rupture can be difficult to prove, even by MRI that has ~20% inaccuracy rate. Or, you might have explantation based on a rupture diagnosis only to find that your implants were not ruptured. Insurance might then deny that claim you were so expecting to be paid. But, Capsular Contracture is a straight-forward diagnosis. It is painful, impedes normal activities, causes sleep disturbances, and interferes with routine mammography. Insurance companies seem to fixate on "pain" in a diagnosis. Again, I have not yet tested this pre-certification/claim theory, but I would be very interested to know if others have. I developed CC in both breasts within the first month of my BA. So, I have lived with Baker III and now Baker IV CC for 30 years! I just very reluctantly (but w/o much choice) had a traditional mammogram breast cancer screening. They were not able to get a good read because of the heavily scarred, hard implants; so doctor recommended ultrasound screening. The doctor reported no indication of "free silicone" (extracapsular) on either. I asked the doctor if she had seem many ultrasounds with ruptured implants and she basically said 'no'. So, they aren't always qualified to make that determination, and they are not conducting the breast cancer screening mammogram/ultrasounds for implant rupture. [Although a PS indicated concern from the mammogram.] She suggested an MRI for implant screening. I certainly don't have $4,000 for that! And, if I did, I could be explanted for a mere ~$2,000 more. Hope this information helps someone.
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thanks so much. I will email you all today. Sincerely, Sara Aronzon
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Thank you for sharing! I almost feel, after reading all the explant stories on hear, that breast implants should come with red warning labels on them, just like they put on cigarette packs. That way maybe when an insecure woman is in the doc's office and is being shown an actual piece of silicone, she'll see those scarlet letters and maybe think twice before putting those things in her body for no good reason! (It'll never happen of course, but I can dream...)
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Wow that is a wonderful idea!
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Hi I am network this sight and feel I can connect with you ladies all the feelings and emotions I am going thru at the moment , I had my BA 4 years ago and they have never felt right I am due to see a PS in June to talk about having them removed it has all been a journey thought they would make me feel better about myself but only worse the feeling of them are so unnatural and the lach of feeling you loose thru surgery they tell you it will possibly come back but has not , it has changed the way I look at boobs now and I think that natural would be so much nicer , reading the forum helps me relate to my inner feelings and yours I am frightened of the saggy skin and would love to think that some sensation will return and would appreciate any more information and support Thankyou ladies .
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I don't think you have anything to be afraid of. Make sure you find the right plastic surgeon. That is very important! Your plastic surgeon, if truthful will tell you if you would need a lift or not. It is not so bad and you will not have two empty socks. I have seen lots of pictures with great results. You can also go into the Delphi Forum in the "explantation forum" and see more stories. I believe there is a list of qualified plastic surgeons. Do not let your plastic surgeon talk you into another set of implants, they will never feel normal and you do risk a chance of getting ill from them. I pray you will find the right plastics surgeon.
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Thankyou for your reply I hope I have found the right surgeon , she has explained how I will most probably feel but does not recommend a uplift immediately she believes in letting them settle and if unhappy , I haven't got a lot of breast tissue but she told me to think of it as a journey and given time they will improve , the lady I have found also does reconstruction surgery for cancer sufferers and only specialises in breasts so I will let you know after Tuesday 8th as this is my surgery date . Your post has helped with the way I feel so I Thankyou xx
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Thank you, GreenTemple for your input and great advice. I think most of us have the same fears you mentioned, but it's nice that you wrote everything out for us. As you mentioned, it is very important to remember that we are doing this for US and no one else! We shouldn't let anyone deter us from what we need to do for our sake! It's our body and we need to take care of ourselves, if we no longer want these foreign bodies inside of us. Even though I had made the decision to have my implants removed, after I scheduled my appointment for April 11, 2014 and felt really happy I was finally going to do this, the next day I started having serious doubts all over again. I couldn't believe it! It was very frustrating to feel that way. Luckily, I found this website and spent days reading everyone's comments and looking at the before and after pictures. I don't know what I would've done if I hadn't found this site. No one understands how I'm feeling except for a person who has experienced what I have. It's made all the difference to have someone to talk to who has been through what I'm going through now. So, thanks to everyone, especially you for your contribution to this site! Of course, I am still going to have some fear, but that's normal for anyone who's going to have surgery. But, I definitely want my implants out for good! I had my implant surgery in 1991 and they hardened after only two years. I also lost sensation from my lower nipples down to the bottom of my breasts due to the areolar incision. I knew there was some possibility of nerve damage, but my PS assured me it would only be slight. That wasn't true. I have almost no feeling in my breasts at all. As I'm sure most women would agree, losing that sensation really was a bummer sexually. Combining the lack of sensation with my breasts feeling like baseballs really did a number on me and I began to hate them! The only positive thing was that I felt like I looked good in a bra, at last and I felt more womanly. Sexy. I even felt a sense of power, as weird as that may sound. I think that came from feeling insecure about myself as a woman, because I was flat-chested. It's funny what society does to us and what we do to ourselves when we think almost every other woman in the world has normal breasts and we don't. Why do we do that to ourselves? Anyway, I also began to have auto-immune issues two years after my implant surgery. I have fibromyalgia and have to take three different medications to get through the day and to be able to stay asleep at night. I have trouble concentrating and thinking clearly because of brain fog. I have a lot of fatigue and I get depressed often. I can't blame everything on my implants, but I definitely feel they are the reason for many of my health problems. I was in my 30s when I had my implant surgery and I was a very healthy person before then. So I don't think it's a coincidence that these problems happened after my plastic surgery. I am 61 years old now and I really regret I had the surgery. I wish I could tell every young woman or any woman that having bigger boobs just isn't worth it!
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Hi, I'm wanting to understand more clearly.. could you please tell me how long you kept the implants in before having them removed? Or are they still in? I'm having some health issues myself after 5 yrs. - actually first noticed tinnitus after the first month of getting the implants. Thank you.
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Am so happy you found this site and we were able to help! As far as regrets .... We live and learn then we learn to live!! Be well!
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I am so happy you found this site and found the information helpful! As far as regrets...you made decision at that time that was right for you and now you have made another!!! Be well knowing that your journey was necessary. We live to learn then we learn to live!!!
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Thanks, GreenTemple!
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Thanks, GreenTemple!!
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@Petunia53 Hi, I'm wanting to understand more clearly.. could you please tell me how long you kept the implants in before having them removed? I've been having tinnitus, brain fog, etc. Thx
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Are you asking me, kat771? If so, I had my implants in for 23 years. I had them and the capsules removed on April 11, 2014. I started getting autoimmune problems two years after I had the BA surgery and also Capsular Contracture. I'm so glad I had the implants removed! Have you found a plastic surgeon or do you have your surgery scheduled yet?
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Yes thank you Petunia! (& Green Temple) I have Not chosen a PS yet.. Just starting to inquire, but I'm really wanting local & IV if at all possible.. Great to have this support site & probably would have explant sooner had I found what I'm learning from all mt "sisters" here. Thx again! Best wishes.
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You're welcome, kat771! There are a lot of women here who have had their implants (both kinds) removed with a local, but I think only the ones who didn't have to have the capsules removed. Not sure about that. My surgery was supposed to take two hrs with general anesthesia, but it was harder to remove everything than expected so it took FOUR hrs!! Luckily, the implants weren't ruptured, though. I have the gory pics of the capsules posted, if you care to see that mess. Makes me cringe a little. Just glad to get them out and on my way to healing ompletely. Some people have found some of their illnesses or symptoms disappear or lessen after explanation. I haven't, yet. I have tinnitus as well, but not severely. Fibromyalgia too. BUT, those hard rocks are gone and my breasts are soft again and that's the most important part. I can finally give soft hugs again. :-) I have Kaiser insurance so I only had to pay a small deductible for my surgery, thankfully!! My PS is the Chief of reconstructive plastic surgery, so I felt very confident of his expertise and he treated me well, which was very important to me. He also had great reviews, so I wasn't too worried about HIM. Of course, I was scared of the surgery and outcome, but I think that's normal! But, like many women here, it wasn't nearly as awful or painful as expected at all. It does take time, for some more than others. It's been 9 weeks today and I still feel twinges and other changes. It will take time to heal. Some days are still better than others, but SO much better now. I never was in a lot of PAIN, anyway. Just some discomfort. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!! My hard breasts were uncomfortable and so embarrassing when I hugged people. No more worries about what those darn things might be doing to my health and it feels good to be all natural again!! Woo hoo! I wish you luck in finding an awesome board-certified PS who will give you exactly what you need. I hope you can find a great PS in your area. Just do your homework online. That's how I found mine! There's a great PS for you in your area, I'm sure!! All the best!
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Dear Petunia 53, Ok so All of your procedure was done under local & IV even though you had to have capsule removed too? And why was the capsule removed if there was No rupture of the implant? Did you stay fairly comfortable throughout? I'm just wanting to understand before I go in... Thank you so much!
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Hi kat771...No, I had general anesthesia (knocked out completely) because I had capsular contracture and my PS doesn't perform implant removal using a local, anyway. My silicone (textured McGhan) implants were in for 23 years and they were firmly attached and did NOT want to come out, I guess, so my surgery took 4 hours!! That's not the usual situation, so you can't go by what I went through. What you need isn't probably going to be anywhere nearly as involved as my surgery was. My recovery and pain levels weren't all that bad, though! Yours will probably be a "breeze" compared to mine. Good luck!!
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I have developed health problems too. I don't blame my saline implants entirely but I don't think they have helped. I was robustly healthy before and 10 years on...I struggle with joint pain, brain fog and low energy. I don't beat myself over my decision to have these things put in....but I do chalk it up to the "learn to love yourself regardless of what others think". I got my implants because I thought my BF would love me more and find me more attractive. We broke up a month after I got them....so yes...it's been a long, hard, expensive lesson I hope other young women learn from!
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I agree, I have similar auto-immune issues post implantation, chronic fatigue syndrome, and still unable to have it covered by insurance. It is so sad.
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Has anyone had Saline implants after a complete removal of breast tissue because of cancer scare--not a cancer diagnosis?
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I am wanting my implants removed for fear of breast cancer. It runs in my family. I also have calcification and capsular contracture. I have health issues as well. I really hope I can get my insurance to help pay. How long have you had your implants? I've had mine since 1997. I'm 40.
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Hi- I had the exact same situation. My insurance paid the removal portion of capsulectomy, I had to pay the portion that was putting new implants in. Sadly, I have now developed cc again and don't know if my insurance will pay to have them out again. Not sure what I am going to do at this point.
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